At NFPS we run an ensemble program using Marimba’s, xyzlaphones, and percussion instruments. Each level has an ensemble which rehearses for one hour a week. If your thinking of trying to get an ensemble program going that is inclusive, easy to make astart with and enjoyable then I recommend these instruments – plus it sounds so much better than recorders.
The advantages are they are diatonic (all playing in the same key) which allows you to write your own bass lines simple melodies , chordal accompaniments and rhythem parts. The basics to teaching composition.
The costs for these instruments range depending on quality but you dont need to buy the most expensive, the more the better at this age. We actually had the large Marimbas built for the school by a company called Mountain Marimbas at a relatively cheap cost If your looking for music John Madin has written great books for all levels that come with a CD etc.
Below is an example of a very simple piece fully composed by the children – You can hear the 4 parts, melody, bass line, rhythm and accompaniment and we also introduced the idea of a B section that shifts the mood of the piece slightly.