Percussion is known for being loud, abrupt, and sometimes even painful to listen to, but if done well, percussion can add a layer of mystical wonder to your worship. It’s more than just a drum kit sitting on the back of the stage, and it often doesn’t get used to its full potential. Percussion must be considered carefully and used appropriately. Use it inappropriately and you’re likely to add unpleasant noises and distractions to your set. Use it correctly and it will establish a rapport with the hearts of the congregation.
Percussion builds energy, or soothes a clamor. Think of percussion as the subtle pulse in your chest. You don’t know it’s there unless something intense is happening, or if you specifically check it. You will notice when something’s wrong because it’s terribly painful. And without the heart’s subtle beat in your chest, life can’t be sustained. Consider adding these creative DIY percussion instruments to your worship: shakers, cajons, stomp boxes, stumpf fiddles, and rainsticks.
- Shakers are the most simplistic piece in the percussion world. One of the best sounding shakers I’ve heard was a homemade shaker made from an aluminum pop can filled with rice and mix of lentils. Experiment with the shaker by creating different mixtures of ingredients to perfect the sound.
- Cajons create a warm addition to the percussion ensemble with a mix of soft highs and smooth lows. They vary in size, but the larger they are, the deeper sound the gets. A Cajon is a 13 x 13 x 19 in. box made from 1/2-in. plywood. However, one side is built with 1/8 plywood for the striking façade. To create a better sound, put a three-inch port on the opposite side of the striking façade.
- Stomp boxes, like shakers, are also a very simplistic form of percussion, but if all you have is an acoustic guitar, use a stomp box to add a rhythmic layer to your worship. To make one, simply glue and fasten together an 8 x 12 x 3 in. box made out of 1/2-in. plywood. Then drill a 1¾-in. port on one side, and your box is complete.
- Stumpf fiddles are an assortment of bells and whistles, quite literally. A stumpf fiddle is a stick with a rubber stop on the bottom. Fastened to it are wood blocks, bells, shakers, stretched springs, and a tin pan drum. Most famously, the Rend Collective used a stumpf fiddle in “Build Your Kingdom Here.” It creates an assortment of sounds. Check it out for yourself.
- Rainsticks color and texture your worship with the sound of rain. If used correctly, the stick can temper the worship mood. It’s easy to make as well. Get a piece of three-inch ABS tube about three to four feet in length, fill it with rice, beans, or grains of your choice, and insert two-inch screws sporadically throughout the full length of the tube.
What homemade instruments have you used in worship? Who do you know that uses homemade instruments to enhance their worship? Tell us in the comments.