Also see this post about tips and tricks for playing Orff instruments – click here.


I’ve had Orff I training, but even before I was officially certified in Orff, I have always liked using xylophones. I highly recommend taking Orff classes and/or attending Orff workshops. They have such hands-on ideas for getting the students actively involved in music making. (Video: See an Orff class in action.)

Anyway, this post is about how I leave my xylophones set up all of the time. I do that so it’s easy in a 30-minute lesson to have everyone take a turn on xylophones in a short period of time.

I can point and say: “Johnny, xylophone 1. Susie, xylophone 2…” Students go to the xylophones, pick up their mallets and wait.

I even sing a little ditty: “Pick up your mallets; don’t play yet!” – and students usually start singing it with me. They know if they play when they aren’t supposed to, they lose their turn.

I used this straight-line configuration for several years – and just last year I tried something that I liked even better (no photo, sorry). I put the xylophones in groups of 2 or 4 around the room at different stations. That caused less bottleneck and allowed for students, who are sitting in a U-shape on risers, to see xylophones without turning all the way around.

Each xylophone has a little eighth note with the number of the xylophone on it, both on the front and on the top.

By the way, while I’m talking about xylophones, I love these rolling stands. I have 2 of them: one for my BX (bass xyl), and one for my BM (bass metallophone, which I don’t use very much – something about the timbre bothers me). They are also adjustable to use for the AX and AM (altos), but I didn’t have enough money in the budget to buy that many. 🙁

Here, partners are standing across from each other as they compose their own melodies on “so, mi, la” pitches – 2nd grade.

Here, this partner group of three is practicing their composition, all playing together at the same time.