What can I play?


  • Percussion instruments are hit, scraped or shaken to create a sound with players often using their hands or sticks to hit an instrument.
  • There are many types of percussion including drums, cymbals, xylophones.
  • Pianos are sometimes considered to be percussion because they are similar to a xylophone.

Find out more about percussion instruments here or click on the pictures to find out more about the different percussion instruments.


image of grand piano

  • The piano is a keyboard instrument with strings struck by wooden hammers coated with a softer material (modern hammers are covered with dense wool felt; some early pianos used leather).
  • It is played using its keyboard, which is a row of keys (small levers) touched by the performer with the fingers and thumbs of both hands, causing the hammers to strike the strings.
  • It was invented in Italy by Bartolomeo Cristofori around the year 1700.
  • The English word piano is a shortened form of the Italian pianoforte which means soft and loud
  • Most modern pianos have a row of 88 black and white keys: 52 white keys for the notes of the C major scale (C, D, E, F, G, A and B) and 36 shorter black keys raised above the white keys and set further back, for sharps and flats.
  • The piano is a crucial instrument in Western classical music, jazz, blues, rock, folk music, and many other Western musical genres. Pianos are used in soloing or melodic roles and as accompaniment instruments
  • pianos can be played alone, with a voice or other instrument, in small groups (bands and chamber music ensembles) and large ensembles (big band or orchestra). 
  • Bandleaders and choir conductors often learn the piano, as it is an excellent instrument for learning new pieces and songs to lead in performance and pianos are used to help teach music theory, music history and music appreciation classes.


image of an electric keyboard

  • An electronic keyboard, portable keyboard, or digital keyboard is an electronic musical instrument, an electronic version of a keyboard instrument.[1] 
  • Electronic keyboards include synthesizers, digital pianos, stage pianos, electronic organs and digital audio workstations. In technical terms, an electronic keyboard is a synthesizer with a low-wattage power amplifier and small loudspeakers.
  • They are played by pressing the white and black piano-style keys which when pressed connect the switches, which trigger the electronic circuits to generate sound. 
  • Electronic keyboards are usually designed for home users, beginners and other non-professional users. They typically have unweighted keys.and are more affordable and practical than a piano.


image of a full drum kit

  • drum kit (also called a drum settrap set, or simply drums) is a collection of drums, cymbals, and sometimes other percussion instruments set up to be played by one person.[1] 
  • The player (drummer) typically holds a pair of matching drumsticks, one in each hand, and uses their feet to operate a foot-controlled hi-hat and bass drum pedal.
  • The drum kit is a part of the standard rhythm section and is used in many types of popular and traditional music styles, ranging from rock and pop to blues and jazz

Find out more about musical instruments on the BBC Bitesize website