How it plays opens at Grainger this week – Grainger Museum, May 8-November 1

The Grainger Museum at the University of Melbourne’s new exhibition and performance project How it plays: innovations in percussion threw open its doors on Wednesday.

Spanning 120 years of practice, How it plays: innovations in percussion brings together a range of percussion instruments that have been created, composed for, and played by radical musicians who have sought to change the way we hear and play music.

“To Percy, music wasn’t just about ‘how it sounds’ but ‘how it plays’,” said curator Heather Gaunt. “In other words, he believed in the power of music that can be played by absolutely anyone, to be transformative….to contribute not only to the aural beauty of our world, but also to our wellbeing and community connectedness. For everyone to be a musician, you have to have access to instruments that can be ‘sounded’ easily. This is where innovative percussion comes in.”

A series of public programs will help visitors further explore the collaborative exhibition and performance project created by Grainger Museum, Federation Handbells (Museums Victoria and Creative Victoria), Speak Percussion, Faculty of Fine Arts and Music and Melbourne School of Design.

Professor Chalon Ragsdale from the University of Arkansas will provide insight into Percy Grainger and the Century of Percussion on Sunday July 212pm, and on Thursday August 22, 12pm renowned Melbourne glass artist Elaine Miles will discuss Reflections: Contemporary glass sculpture in performance. Miles’ beautiful glass gongs, which are part of the exhibition, have been played by Speak Percussion as part of their Glass Percussion Project.

Expanding on the Museum’s new direction in children’s programming, freelance percussionist Dan Richardson will lead Come and Play! A kids composition workshop in the exhibition’s interactive hub during the winter school holidays on Sunday September 21 at 2pm.

Acclaimed Melbourne performance ensemble Speak Percussion will deliver a performance of Bell Curve on Thursday 3 October at 7pm, a mesmerising performance in which bell players are installed across the performance space and controlled by networked wireless click tracks. Audiences are interspersed amongst the performers, experiencing both the intimacy and complex exchange of rhythmic and spatial structures.

Public programs are free, but bookings are essential at

How it plays: innovations in percussion continues the Grainger Museum’s commitment to creativity, community engagement and collaborations.

How it Plays: innovations in percussion
Grainger Museum, Gate 13, Royal Pde, Parkville
May 8- November 1, 2019