How to Play the Spoons

In less than ten minutes!

Did you know that the spoons have been used as musical instruments for centuries? And because they appear so many different places in the North American story, I get the opportunity to play them in several of my educational concerts for kids, and adults.

People love it!

A Super Fun Activity

Spoons are so accessible, they sound great, they connect to so many different facets of history (more on that in a minute), and best of all? Playing the spoons can be learned in a very short amount of time.

After showing an audience how to play the spoons, and then maybe getting a little fancy by running them down the length of my arm, or playing them on my feet, or against the side of my face (not recommended for beginners!), just when the interest of that 10 year-old (or 70 year-old) is at its absolute zenith, I’ll say something like:

“And you know what? When you get home tonight, you’re not going to believe what you’ll find in the kitchen drawer!”

Eyes light up!

Imaginations soar!

Talk about making lemonade out of lemons.

How to play the spoons

So, I encourage you to take a pair of spoons out of your kitchen drawer – – metal, plastic, wooden – – it really doesn’t matter, and spend a few minutes with this YouTube video. I initially posted this for teachers and students to use, but it’s really for everyone. Time to play the spoons!

There are so many tie-ins to pioneer life in North America, between the canal workers and the Great Lakes sailors and the cowboys and the lumberjacks and the homemakers and the westward travelers and the immigrants.

When people are supplying their own entertainment, anything and everything goes. (Have you seen this piece on learning to play hambone?)

In fact, there was a man in Northern New York who was known for playing the beer bottles! But that’s a whole different story.

I hope you’ll let me know how it goes for you! Please leave me a message below in the Comments section.

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5 Responses to How to Play the Spoons

  1. Hey Dave watched your video this afternoon and with New Zealand being on 4 week lockdown it was the perfect time to pick up a new hobby and though my leg is bruised and my index is blistered i’ve been having an absolute blast playing the spoons, the lesson was great easy to pick up and after a couple hours I’d been able to grasp all sorts of different tricks and techniques thanks heaps!

  2. That was delightful and clear! Thank you for posting this video! I’m going to try to teach myself to play the spoons for a little rhythm break in a musical number. That was just excellent teaching (and I’m a fourth grade teacher)!

    • Ha! Great to hear Dan, and I guess you won’t be surprised to learn that I work with 4th grade students all the time. It’s just about my favorite age.

  3. Hi Dave, I too am in Buffalo and wonder if you give lessons – My problem is that after just five minutes of holding the spoons I’m getting blisters on the inside of my first finger! Am I holding them wrong? Thanks.

    • Rosalie – it could be an issue of grip, or perhaps just holding them too tightly. I sent you an email with more.

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