A pair of spoons is held with concave sides facing out and with a 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 and for visual effect.
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 moved 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 held down by the thumb, one between ring and middle finger.
One spoon in the left hand, one under the watch belt, these hit with one on the right hand.
As percussion, spoons accompany fiddle playing and other folk sets. An example is seen in Midsomer Murders Series 6, episode 2, where Detective Sergeant Gavin Troy plays the spoons at a house party joining a fiddle player who is entertaining the guests. He uses the first technique. The guests also contribute percussion by hand clapping in time with the music.
In Canada, the spoons accompany fiddle playing in Québecois and Acadian music. Also, Newfoundland and the Atlantic Provinces popularly play the spoons at family gatherings. Playing the spoons is rarely seen in Western Canada.
The spoons in Greece, as a percussion instrument are known as koutalakia (Greek: κουταλακια), which means also, spoon. The dancers hold the wooden koutalakia, to accompany with a variety of knocks their dance rhythms. The most of them, are very beautifully sculpted or painted.
Spoons are often used in ethnic Russian music and are known as lozhki (Russian: Ло́жки[plural]; Pronunciation: Ложка (help·info)[singular]). The use of spoons for music dating at least from the 18th century (and probably older). Typically, three or more wooden spoons are used. The convex surfaces of the bowls are struck together in different ways. For example, two spoons are held by their handles in the left hand, and the third, held in the right hand, is used to hit the two spoons in the left hand. The hit, in a sliding motion, produces a typical sound. One can also hold three spoons in the left hand and put a fourth into the bot or the pocket. A fifth spoon is then held in the right hand and used to hit the other four. Finally, one can hold the bowl of a single spoon in the left hand and hit it with another spoon. In this style, different sounds can be emitted by holding the bowl more or less tightly.
These wooden spoons are commonly used in performances of Russian folk music and sometimes even in Russian orchestras. A video of a choir performing a Russian folk song with spoon and balalaika accompaniment can be found below.
Kasik (spoon) is a Turkish percussion instrument. The ones made from boxwood are particularly favoured. The handles are taken between the fingers and the oval parts are held towards the inside of the hand in a back to back position. There are also different holding styles.
British actor Sylvester McCoy, who most notably played the seventh incarnation of Doctor Who, is adept at playing the spoons, as evidenced during his tenure on Doctor Who as well as in his role in Ian McKellan's King Lear.