Jo May

Folk musician and teacher Jo May will be bringing the art of playing the spoons to The World Music Workshop festival this July.

Jo provides an assortment of metal, wooden, plastic and joined-up spoons (for younger participants) and she teaches a variety of techniques and rhythms, often incorporating songs and body percussion too. Spoons Workshops are accessible for all ages and abilities, and help to develop many skills including rhythm, co-ordination, fine motor skills, creativity, copying, listening, performance and teamwork.

Jo often works with another musician who provides a fantastic accompaniment for the spoon playing.

Spoons can be played as a makeshift percussion instrument, or more specifically, an idiophone related to the castanets. They are played by hitting one spoon against the other.

Here are some of the basic techniques Jo will be covering:

Fire tongs style: a pair of spoons is held tight with concave sides facing out and with index finger between their handles to space them apart. When the pair is struck, the spoons sharply hit each other and then spring back to their original position. The spoons are typically struck against the knee and the palm of the hand. The fingers and other body parts may also be used as striking surfaces to produce different sounds, rhythms, rattles and visual effects.

Salad serving style: one spoon between little, ring, and long finger; the other spoon between ring, thumb, and index finger in such a way that they can be rotated with ring finger as the common axis. They can be hit to each other at the convex sides by gathering the fingers (mostly middle and thumb).

Castanets style: two in each hand one spoon held concave-side against the palm held down by the thumb, one between ring and middle fingers with finger tips in the concave side balancing the handle. They can be hit to each other at the convex sides by gripping with the middle and ring fingers.

One spoon held concave-side against the palm, and handle jammed tight under the wrist watch belt, another in between ring and middle fingers of the left hand hitting the latter castanet style, and a third spoon in the right hand hitting both spoons in the left hand, drum stick style.

Jo’s teaching demo


Year Contributions
2018 Spoons Workshops