FAQs

Percussion Play is passionate about telling teachers, landscape architects, parents, garden designers, playground designers, farm and theme park managers all there is to know about outdoor musical instruments and percussion for outside spaces, inclusive playgrounds, and parks. Over time we have come to realize that whilst each outdoor space is unique, many of the questions people have when purchasing outdoor musical instruments or musical play equipment remain the same.

We have therefore compiled a list of these core questions to help you choose the right outdoor musical instrument for you. To get started, simply click a question below to start learning.

Do the instruments require any kind of 'Play Area Surfacing' or 'Safer Surfacing'?

The purpose of safer surfacing is to cushion the impact of a child’s accidental fall and reduce the severity of an injury. As our instruments are intended to be played while standing on the ground and not climbed on they do not have any requirements for impact-absorbing safer surfacing under BS EN-1177.

Additionally, for protection against injuries, all play equipment requires a recommended 'free space' zone. Free space is a minimum space around equipment that will reduce the risk of collisions. We confirm that our instruments if installed correctly and following our installation instructions have been independently inspected and comply with the dimensional requirements of BS EN 1176.

Wear and tear - Warning! These instruments are going to be popular, so if you plan to install them into the grass, you may want to consider some form of ground protection such as grass re-enforcement materials to prevent muddy surfaces appearing.

It is important to remember that from the first design, equipment selection, installation and initial risk assessment through routine maintenance and inspections, any organization or business that installs or manages a children’s play area must take responsibility for the overall safety of the equipment in place.

Why choose Percussion Play?

With an unusual combination of sculpture, play and music, our instruments make people stop, they challenge the individuals who encounter them to have a go, whatever their age. Integrated with architecture or landscaping they cross the boundaries of usual play equipment to allow hands-on music-making possible for any member of the public to enjoy - making them both desirable and fun. Ideal for landscape architects, local authorities and playground designers who are looking for dynamic, interactive playful items that add energy and soul to your outdoor area.

Constructed of durable, easily cared-for materials to avoid the worst effects of the elements and vandalism, all instruments are designed to avoid costly or long term maintenance. Where possible we've designed the instruments to be played simply by using your hands. Where beaters are required, we've engineered them as one complete piece so the ends do not become separated and they're attached using coated stainless steel cables. The instruments themselves are made from stainless steel with high corrosion resistance, making them outdoor musical instruments that stand out in terms of quality and performance.

Percussion Play instruments are a great way to keep the arts alive in the community and a great way to bring the community together, an opportunity for young children and their grown-ups to be creative and to find the joy in creating music together. Music-making promotes cooperation, interaction, and creativity - all things that help to build closeness and mutual affection. Music does not have an age limit or a required skill level, so it's something that groups of people can do together and all contribute to and benefit from. Our aim for inclusive design means that from the very beginning we consider creating something that is easily accessible, fun and enjoyable for as many people as possible. For further reading on the impact of music in communities, read our White Paper Come One, Come All: The Benefits of Music-Making Within the Community

Percussion Play wants to inspire musical fun and curiosity, to provide opportunities for meaningful musical engagement whilst outdoors. We are confident that our instruments can provide an alternative play solution to a number of challenging locations such as public parks, town centers, forests, and other public areas.

What are the benefits of outdoor musical instruments?

Playing an outdoor musical instrument does not have a required skill level or an age limit, so it's something that friends or families can do together, all contributing and creating their own musical ideas and sounds.

We strongly believe that outdoor musical play ticks all the right boxes – it offers cognitive, emotional and physical play opportunities. Outdoor musical instruments provide an alternative play solution to a number of locations such as public parks, school playground equipment, forests, and other public areas. They encourage cooperation and creative thinking - perfect for those who want to avoid conflict and create harmony in their outdoor environment and for playgrounds designed with inclusive play in mind.

There are no rules for musical improvisation, the focus is on creativity and expression and there are no instruments as easy to learn as ours, yet they’re capable of making some very complex, very beautiful music. Designed to be played by people with diverse abilities and to encourage inter-generational play, our outdoor musical instruments offer a unique solution for inclusive playgrounds, music parks, community trails, churches, and many other outdoor spaces. Our White Paper Play, Percussion, and 'Post-Age' Pedagogy: The Positive Effects of Intergenerational Music-Making looks into the vital role that music-making can play in facilitating cross-generational connections and play.

Outdoor musical instruments present schools with an excellent way of incorporating outdoor education into the day-to-day curriculum and children will love the fact that music can be used in a context outside of the classroom. They make wonderful playground equipment for schools and nurseries as well as outdoor learning and music resources. The introduction of a musical garden or outdoor 'soundscape' will excite and inspire children musically while enjoying the obvious benefits that arise from spending time in the natural environment.

Being outside is necessary for well-being and enjoyment of life itself and a number of Care and Nursing Homes are seeing the benefits of creating dementia-friendly sensory gardens for residents and visitors to enjoy, creating little sanctuaries that appeal to all the senses through the creative use of colors, smells, textures, and sounds. Music is important in all aspects of life and a crucial factor in any sensory environment. A musical sound garden combines the benefits of a sensory garden with playing musical instruments - an increasingly popular care home activity. Creating a sound garden for residents will engage their senses whilst having a little fun - an invitation to experience the outdoors in a new and fascinating way. Music motivates, enriches, relaxes, and energizes the elderly in nursing homes. For further reading, you may also be interested in our White Paper Music For Mood & Memory - The Benefits Of Music For People Living With Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia

Musical Instruments can be a wonderful addition to any inclusive playground and ensure your play space is fun for children of all abilities. Enhancing physical and mental development through the exploration of sound, Percussion Play outdoor musical instruments are accessible to kids with both physical and developmental disabilities.

Good design is an inclusive design. Percussion Play strives to design their outdoor musical instruments with inclusive play in mind, reflecting the diversity of people who will play them and not impose barriers of any kind. Our instruments provide physical, sensory, social, and creative play opportunities for children who may not normally have access to playground equipment.

A really great inclusive play space provides easy access and promotes inclusive play. Why not read our Case Study on Ireland's Most Inclusive Playground? Here the playground designers considered both physical and sensory disabilities as well as additional needs of children on the autism spectrum and those with motor coordination difficulties.

For further reading you may also be interested in our White Papers Beating the Drum for Equality The Benefits of Music for Those with Developmental Disabilities and Special Educational Needs and Sounds and the Spectrum: The Benefits of Music for Autistic Children or our magazine article Outdoor Musical Instruments and Music Therapy For Children With Special Needs

Where are Percussion Play Instruments made?

Percussion Play is very proud of the fact that all their instruments are made in Great Britain.

Although we always try to source materials from within Great Britain, there are a few, which are not available in the UK. Those materials are sourced from abroad however the quality we expect from them is as high as with any other material from Great Britain. By sourcing materials from Great Britain, we can be sure of the quality, support our industries, while having the added benefit of lowering our carbon footprint.

The assembly of Percussion Play outdoor musical instruments is done entirely by hand and then precision-tuned, which requires a great deal of experience and a good ear!

There is no language more powerful than the language of music. Music crosses all cultural and linguistic barriers. Find a country that does not have music of some kind, from Derry to Denmark from Darwin to Delhi, search anywhere you like. Every country will, without a doubt, have some form of music. Their people will make music, play music, and move to the music. Music is truly a language that is spoken by every person on earth.

We distribute our outdoor musical instruments to nearly every country in the world through independent distributors around the globe. To find your nearest Percussion Play Reseller click here

Are Percussion Play Instruments easy to install?

As well as being easy to play, all our instruments are designed to ensure easy installation. We realize installing your own instruments may seem a little intimidating, but we are confident you can do it!

We send all our products as readily assembled as possible, any assembly required is clearly laid out to ease the installation process.

Product-specific installation instructions are sent with each product although you can download a replacement if required. All our Installation Instructions are available for download here.

Do I need to be musical to play these instruments?

Trust us, anyone can play our instruments! Anyone can create beautiful, original music playing our instruments. Anyone can surprise and impress people playing our instruments. Anyone can have great fun and express themselves playing our instruments.

If you are anything like me and not musically inclined, learning to play guitar or piano is out of the question. But everyone loves music and appreciates the heart and soul that goes into making your own.

Of most people that claim things like ‘Oh, but I'm not musical at all', ‘I'm hopeless at keeping a tune' or ‘I have no sense of rhythm', only a small percentage turn out to be completely unmusical, it’s just that many people simply think they can’t play music. Maybe you’re one of them. Why? Maybe you took traditional lessons as a child and at some point got frustrated or confused and stopped. Just because you quit your lessons, doesn’t mean you have to give up your dream of playing music.

Edgard Varèse the composer, defines music as “organized sound,” saying, “to stubbornly conditioned ears, anything new in music has always been called noise.” So if you want to make music, it’s time to start making some organized noise. And we can help you!

We believe music should be available to all comers. Percussion Play has designed all of their instruments to be played by both experts and ‘budding musicians’ – basically all people with a love of music. Knowledge of music, keys or scales is not required just the willingness to have a go. Making music that sounds good has never been this easy. Why? The fundamental reason is the use of the pentatonic scale. Consisting of five notes and found in practically every form of music in the world, the Pentatonic scale contains almost no clashing or dissonant notes. Put another way, you can play almost any notes of a pentatonic scale in almost any combination, and they’ll sound great together.

It’s wonderful to improvise using a scale that always sounds good. So, what is a pentatonic scale and how did it come to be? Our White Paper Five Notes To Rule Them All: The Power of the Pentatonic Scale explores the theory behind the scale, it's origins and relevance today.

Are Percussion Play Instruments for Schools?

Percussion Play’s instruments present schools with an excellent way of incorporating outdoor education into the day-to-day curriculum. Our outdoor musical instruments make wonderful playground equipment for schools and nurseries as well as outdoor learning and music resources. We highlight the importance of Music Education in our White Paper Music Matters

Our musical instruments are designed to withstand the elements and live outside all year to help create an outdoor environment that supports young children's health, wellbeing, development, and learning. Children will love the fact that music can be used in a context outside of the classroom and possibly engage with musical outdoors in ways that are not really possible indoors.

Due to their clever design and use of the pentatonic scale, our instruments are so easy to play that children are able to develop musical skills without having to manage any technical demands of an instrument, showing children what can be expressed and achieved through music. With pentatonic tuned musical instruments, the technique is not a problem, given the simplicity of the instruments. Dissonance is not a problem, given the pentatonic scale. When one experiences the simplicity of making pleasing melodies and harmonies on the pentatonic scale, suddenly making music becomes achievable and exciting. Music in the early years supports children's all-round development and helps to shape their skills in concentration, memory, and listening. To aid this physical and cognitive development and lay a strong foundation in aural and rhythmic skills, every child must be given the opportunity to discover their musicality. Find out more about the Pentatonic Scale for Early Years here or why not read our White Paper Five Notes To Rule Them All: The Power of the Pentatonic Scale

With a little imagination, music can be incorporated into numerous settings throughout the day. Creating areas for music and sound exploration inside and out will help integrate music into the everyday experience of the children. The introduction of a musical garden or outdoor 'soundscape' will excite and inspire children musically while enjoying the obvious benefits that arise from spending time in the natural environment. For a little inspiration, why not head to our Case Studies page to see examples such as the outdoor learning grounds at Buffalo Rubbing Stone School or the ADA accessible music garden at Park Hill Elementary

Children will be able to explore new sounds whilst enjoying the benefits of the outdoor elements - fresh air and sunshine (well, fresh air at least!) A musical playground will provide young children with opportunities for early interaction and positive experiences with music. A facility where children can explore, create and develop their own musical ideas and sounds - maximizing the musical potential of a child during their most rapid developmental period while discovering the joy and empowerment of music-making.

What size are the instruments?

We want our outdoor musical instruments to be fun and easy to play for all age groups from Pre-schoolers to Seniors.

The dimensions for all Percussion Play instruments can be found under the Instrument Information tab 'Dimensions' on each individual product page. See our Duo as an example.

The supplied height of the instruments is designed to be suitable for children age 7 to adults. However, to make them suitable for younger children you simply need to set the instrument lower in the ground by digging a little deeper when you are installing the instrument. This is all made clear on the installation guide.

If looking for musical instruments specifically designed for younger players, take a look at our Rainbow Trio - occupying less space than the full-size instruments this bright and inviting ensemble requires less budget too – making them appealing for smaller establishments such as nursery schools, pre-schools, and kindergartens. You can even bring the outdoors in by installing the instruments to a wall indoors.

From what materials are Percussion Play instruments made?

We design our outdoor musical instruments using a mix of materials. We choose the best quality materials to create the right look, sound, durability and price.

The majority are made from Stainless Steel, Aluminum, GRP (Glassfibre Reinforced Polymers) ABS and Hardwood.

About the Materials We Use:

GRP (Glassfibre Reinforced Polymers)

GRP is a composite material or plastic reinforced by fine fibres made of glass. GRP is a lightweight, extremely strong, and robust material with a better strength to weight ratio than steel. It won't warp, shrink or rust. It’s virtually maintenance-free with durability in even the most extreme conditions. GRP is also referred to as 'Fibreglass', 'Composite Plastics' and in the USA 'FRP'.

High strength - Corrosion-free - Extremely safe - Fire retardant - Cost-effective - Weatherproof - Durable

Percussion Play uses GRP to make the notes on the Duo, Marimba, Sansa Rimba, Cadenza and Wall Marimba. The sound it produces is fast and punchy.

Aluminium

Aluminium is a very durable material designed to withstand the rain, sun, wind and snow. It is lightweight with high strength and resistance to corrosion. After iron, aluminium is now the second most widely used metal in the world. This is because aluminium has a unique combination of attractive properties:

Low weight. High strength. Superior malleability. Easy machining. Excellent corrosion resistance

Aluminium can be reused for the same purposes over and over again. Unlike many other materials, aluminium does not lose its unique properties.

Percussion Play uses aluminium to make the notes on many instruments including among others the Duo, Sansa Rimba, Cadenza, Mirror Chimes, Tubular Bells, Freechimes, Cadenza and Harmony. The sound it produces is clear and bright.

Hardwood

The notes of some traditional instruments such as the Akadinda are made from hardwood, usually Padauk. About as heavy, but stronger than oak, padauk is known for its bright orange-red heartwood. The timber is strong, durable and extremely resistant to rot or termite attack with excellent weathering properties. Left to nature, the UV sun rays and traditional weathering, the Paduak’s appearance will change from vivid red toning down to dark purple-brown.

Padauk has excellent tonal qualities. It’s used for drums in its native Africa due to its low acoustical dampening properties. It is most frequently used in high-end joinery and cabinetry but is also used in boat-building, agricultural implements, decking and flooring.

This extremely stable timber has an attractive appearance together with high strength properties.

The only maintenance required is washing the timber using a brush and soapy water once or twice a year. This will remove algae and lichens where required.

Percussion Play uses hardwood to make the notes for the Grand Marimba, Tutti and Akadinda. The sound it produces is strong deep and resonant.

ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene)

ABS is a thermoplastic that is easy to machine and fabricates. ABS is an ideal material for applications when impact resistance and strength are required and is easy to paint and glue. The ABS we use for the lids of our Rainbow Sambas and Conga Drums has a very tight surface structure with good shock absorbance which results in a great sound when struck.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

PVC is used extensively across a broad range of industrial, technical and everyday applications including widespread use in building, transport, packaging, electrical/electronic and healthcare applications.

PVC is a very durable and long-lasting material which can be used in a variety of applications and we use it for the resonators of Rainbow Sambas and Conga Drums.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is known as a steel alloy, meaning that it has several metals that have been melted together with increased protection from the elements by the addition of chrome and nickel. Stainless steel does not corrode, rust, and cannot be stained with water like ordinary steel. Stainless Steel is bright, easy to maintain and clean - perfect for rigorous environments.

With proper care, stainless steel has a useful life expectancy of over 100 years, and it is totally recyclable. Over 50% of new stainless steel comes from re-melted stainless steel scrap.

Percussion Play uses stainless steel to produce many of their instruments including among others the Babel Drums, Tembos, Bell Lyre and also the frames and legs for other outdoor musical instruments.

How do I import Percussion Play instruments to the United States and how much does it cost?

Put simply… “With ease and it only costs 8%” How?

To save you the time and hassle of spending hours trawling through pages of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) of the United States and understanding the various definitions and rules we’ve done this already.

We identify and export all of our instruments using commodity codes according to the HTS for trade between the UK and the United States of America.

The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Regulations 19 CFR 24.23(b)(1) require Formal or Informal customs entries for commercial goods which are subject to a Merchandise Processing Fee (MPF) (Formal entries are required for imports of commercial goods valued at $2,500 or more). We take care of this for you.

Freight costs vary from instrument to instrument and are dependent on not only the weight of the instrument but also the space occupied in transit. We pack everything with space-saving in mind to keep the freight costs to a minimum, sometimes this means a little instrument assembly may be required, however, full assembly instructions are always provided and we also have the assembly videos for a number of instruments.

How much does all of this cost and what is the cost of Freight?

Our incurred freight costs range from 4.2% to 13.0% of the US Dollar MSRP.

Duties payable can be as much a 5.3% of the US Dollar MSRP excluding freight costs.

MPF is nominally 0.3464% to a maximum amount not exceeding $485 however shall not be less than $25.

We subsidize these costs and in total, we charge a nominal fee of 8.00% on the US Dollar MSRP for Customs Entries, Freight, and Duties meaning you don’t have to do anything.

We have shown an example of this below:-

Rainbow Sambas MSRP $2,620

We charge import costs of $209.60

Total Costs Delivered Duty Paid (DDP) = $2,829.60

If you would like more information please Contact Us or drop us a quick line below and one of our friendly team will be on hand to answer your questions.

How do I import Percussion Play instruments to Canada and how much does it cost?

To save you the time and hassle of spending hours trawling through pages of the Canadian Customs Tariff (as defined by the Canada Border Services Agency - CBSA) and understanding the various definitions and rules, we’ve done this already.

We identify and export all our instruments using commodity codes according to the Canadian Customs Tariff for trade between the UK and Canada.

In Canada, there are three types of sales tax: a federal Goods and Services Tax (GST) at a rate of 5%, a provincial sales tax (PST) which rate varies by province, and a combination of both, a Harmonised Sales Tax (HST). Sales tax is calculated based on the sum of the value of the goods, the duty. The GST (5%) is payable on most goods at the time of importation under Part IX, Division III of the Excise Tax Act. We take care of this for you.

Freight costs vary from instrument to instrument and are dependent on not only the weight of the instrument but also the space occupied in transit. We pack everything with space-saving in mind to keep the freight costs to a minimum. Sometimes this means a little instrument assembly may be required, however, full assembly instructions are always provided.

How much does all this cost and what is the cost of Freight?

Our incurred freight costs on average are almost 14% but can be much as 23% of the Canadian Dollar MSRP and to some provinces are even greater.

Duties payable can be as much a 6% of the Canadian Dollar MSRP (excluding freight costs).

We subsidize these costs across all our products and in total, we charge a nominal fee of 8%* on the Canadian Dollar MSRP for Customs Entries, Freight, and Duties - meaning you don’t have to do anything.

(*Freight for some Provinces are still currently POA these are NL, PE, NT, YT, NU)

We have shown an example of this below:-

Rainbow Sambas: MSRP CA$3,540

For Freight DDP to ON, QC, BC, AB, MB, SK, NS, NB we charge import costs of CA$283.20

Total Costs Delivered Duty Paid (DDP) = CA$3,823.20

If you would like more information, please Contact Us and one of our friendly team will be on hand to answer your questions.

What if I can't find exactly what I am looking for?

If you’re looking for great quality outdoor musical products for a community garden, playpark, playground, forest trail or care home we can create what you have in mind. For landscape architects, garden or playground designers looking to create a custom outdoor music project - having a partner working alongside you is critical to your success. With our unrivaled expertise in design and manufacture, Percussion Play delivers winning bespoke musical solutions from start to finish. This service can range from using different color materials, making small changes to one of our current designs such as creating a different scale to producing a completely unique item.

A great example of one of our bespoke musical solutions are the chimes that play 'I do like to be beside the seaside' on the musical trail along the historic Boscombe Pier. They proved so popular, we created the standard product My Tunes - highly resonant chimes that are arranged sequentially so that by simply striking the notes in order a familiar tune is played. My Tunes can be personalized to suit a specific location or target audience and make wonderfully unique and playful items for multigenerational fun at family attractions, theme parks, museums or farms to name a few.

If you have an idea which you would like to bring to life which is not within our standard product range please Contact Us. We have a passion for new ideas and we're constantly innovating to create exciting new outdoor musical instruments, large or small. We can make your order just for you in our workshop, with no minimum order quantities. We are confident that working together only our imaginations are the limit. Let us help you bring your sound sculpture to life and have some fun along the way!

Ground Fix installation involves you having to dig a hole to install the instrument post/s directly into the ground to be concreted in.

Surface Fix installation is ideal for when it is not possible to dig into the ground (e.g. concrete or expensive safer surfacing which you do not want to damage). The 'surface plates' provided can be fixed/drilled in the desired location using recommended suitable ground anchors - bolts or fixings (not supplied) for a quick, easy solution.

You need to specify which type of install you require when ordering your instruments. Product-specific installation instructions are sent with each product however all our Installation Instructions are always available to view or download here at any time.

You know you want a great combination of outdoor musical instruments, but just don't know where to begin to ensure the different instruments you select will work together harmoniously. Don’t worry, we’ve done the hard work for you! Our ensembles or outdoor musical instrument collections facilitate the decision-making process while passing along some cost savings to you for good measure.

Our Ensembles or Collections range from just three instruments - the Rainbow Trio Ensemble - to our biggest and most diverse arrangement the Septet Ensemble that can accommodate in excess of twelve players at any time. We have collections ideal for urban environments that require no mallets, as well as collections for those with big ideas but small budgets!