Category Archives: African Music

Seed Pods Rattles From Peru, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Africa!

pacay shaker on lliqllaIf you lived in ancient times or tribal days – what would you use to make music? You’d probably look around you for sticks, stones, bones or even seed pods that fell from trees! These would make excellent percussion and if you’re lucky enough to live in a tropical region, there are several trees that actually grow very cool seed pod rattles such as the pacay shaker seen on the colorful Peruvian cloth above.  You can learn more about seed pod trees here or in the more detailed links below.

The Pacay “Ice Cream” Tree

Isn’t that a cool name for a tree? The tall and lovely pacay tree got this name because the soft white pulp between the seeds in the seed pods is delicious and a pacay fruit - ripefavorite among kids dating back to the Incan times in South America. In fact, the earliest story of this seed pod comes from when the Spanish invaded South America and the last Inca gave a basket of pacay seed pods to Pizzaro as a gift. Now grown as shade trees near coffee plantations in Peru, this giant 60 foot tree is also found throughout Central America and the beans (seeds) are eaten as well. In Mexico, the beans inside the seed pods are roasted and served on the streets as a snack!

The Flame or Flamboyant Tree

Although the seed pods to this tree appear similar to the pacay shakers, the trees flame treethey come from are really different. The flamboyant tree is native to Africa but found throughout tropical regions around the world.  In some locations, such as Puerto Rico, it’s a beloved and iconic image seem in everything from photos to folk art!

The tree itself is ornamental, smaller in size, has fern-like leaves and bright, beautiful red flowers so it’s easy to see how it got it’s name. Although the seeds here are not edible, the seed pods still make nice natural percussion instruments to use as shakers.

How Do You Make A Seed Pod Shaker?

That’s a trick question – you don’t! They work as rattles directly from the tree. Well, when dried, of course. If you’re in an area where these trees grow you’ll probably find seed pods that have fallen and are hard, dry and brown in color. At that point, pick them up and shake them and they are instant rattles!

Will each seed pod sound the same? Try several and see for yourselves!

Pacay Shaker in Josef's HandHow Do You Play One?

Although this is a really basic and simple instrument, there are several ways to get different sounds from a seed pod rattle. Try any of these:

  • Rattle it back and forth or up and down.
  • Rattle it slowly then build up a crescendo.
  • Hold it in one hand and tap it against the other.
  • March or dance while shaking it, letting the beat become part of your movement or music!

Links and Resources

Lost Crops of the Incas: Little-Known Plants of the Andes with Promise for Worldwide Cultivation https://www.nap.edu/read/1398/chapter/33#284

The Flame or Flambouyant Tree – https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delonix_regia

The Flamboyant Tree: A Puerto Rico Icon: http://caribbeantrading.com/the-flamboyant-tree-a-puerto-rico-icon/

Pacay: A Tree, a Fruit, a Bean, and a Musical Instrument – http://kidworldcitizen.org/2013/10/21/pacay-tree-fruit-bean-musical-instrument/

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A Trip Around The World In Song!

mama-lisa-book-coverThis is my new favorite international kids song songbook!

To be honest, I’ve been a huge fan of the website – Mama Lisa’s World – for years, so I was thrilled to be able to review this new compilation songbook. It has 100 songs from global cultures – including indigenous cultures – along with descriptions, sheet music, translations and notes on where to find MIDI and recorded version for listening. This book simply could not be more complete – or more fun!

Many of the songs that Lisa has selected are not just great songs, they are also games and offer wonderful ways to combine music, language and movement. Because translations come with each song, you can also easily start learning  simple words and phrases in other languages as well.

Where does this songbook go? It opens in Africa with welcome songs, circle dances and call-and-response tunes. Next, the songbook goes to Asia, with songs of friendship, love and play. After that, you can find favorites from Australia and the islands of Oceania. In the songs selected from Europe, you’ll meet familiar characters like the Sandman and Little Red Riding Hood. Of course, there are mama-lisa-book-pagealso songs from North America, including an Iroquois lullaby as well as English and French Canadian songs. The book closes with songs from Central and South America, including music with roots in Hispanic, Afro-Hispanic and Indigenous cultures.

What more do you need to know? This is definitely a must-have songbook for anyone who loves children’s songs and world music! You can buy both digital copies or a full size physical copy at the links below.

Links And Resources

Digital Copy From Gumroad (352 Pages/5.64 MG/3.99) https://gumroad.com/l/GvQVT#

Kid Songs Around The World: A Mama Lisa Book (Physical Copy) From Amazon http://a.co/3mx1z0o

Take A Nature Walk – Make An Instrument!

sistrums-sticksAutumn is such a great time to take a nature walk with your child!  Maybe you have a wooded backyard or a park nearby?  Or perhaps there is a natural area near your home where you can enjoy the changing seasons.

As you take a walk in nature, look for any stick or small branch that’s formed in the shape of a “Y”.   If you find one, you can take it home and make a wonderful little musical instrument that actually dates back to ancient Egypt.

What Is A Sistrum

sistrum-posterSistrums are rattles that are found all over the world.  This clever little percussion instrument starts with some sort of forked object and then has a string or wire running between the two forks. On the strings or wires are objects that rattle and clank, making a lovely noise when shook back and forth.  In ancient Egypt, sistrums was used as part of the Pharaoh’s court and can even be seen pictured in hieroglyphics!

Supplies

Small stick or branch
Sand paper (optional)
Sturdy twine or floral wire
Colorful yarn
Noise-making Objects – buttons, beads, jingles, paper clips,
Recycled noise-making objects – soda tabs, bottle caps, compressed bottle tops (our next post will show you how to make and use these safely to avoid sharp edges).

Start with the Stick!

Once you’ve found a sturdy stick or branch that’s shaped like the letter “Y”, you making-sistrums-peace-valleymight want to take a bit of sandpaper and sand down any rough edges.  Then take the sturdy twine or floral wire and secure it to one side of the “Y”.  Now add any of rattling objects and hold the wire in place without wrapping it on the other side.  Check to see if you like the sound it creates.  If you do, then wrap the wire or twine securely in place.  If not, experiment with adding or removing objects to get the sound you like.

Here’s a hint, less objects often make a more pleasing sound!

Add extra strings of noise-makers if you like.

wooden-sistrumMaking It Unique

After creating the noise-making part of the rattle, you may wish to decorate the handle or the sides with colorful yarn, woven bands, electrical tape or even painting or adding other decorations. This is a very open-ended project and you can be very creative with it!

Learn About The History Of The Sistrum

If you want to tie this project into a study of world cultures, you can check out the Ancient Instruments of the Middle East kids music mini-course.  Or simply have fun with the Egyptian coloring page.  Links and other resources are below.  Happy crafting and music-making!

Links and Resources

Free Coloring Page – Egyptian Sistrum  https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Color-An-Ancient-Egyptian-Rattle-The-Sistrum-2166721

Ancient Instruments of the Middle East  kids music mini-course https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Ancient-Instruments-From-The-Middle-East-Mini-Lesson-2127995

Free Doumbek (Middle Eastern Drum) Poster and Coloring Page https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Middle-Eastern-Drums-Doumbek-Background-Coloring-Page-2049118

A Song For Mothers From South Africa!

HERE COME OUR MOTHERS

Mother’s Day in the USA is fast approaching, but you probably already guessed that mothers, moms and mums as well as grandmoms are celebrated all over the globe.  In South Africa, Mother’s Day is celebrated the 2nd Sunday in May and children honor their mothers with gifts, flowers and sweet gestures such as breakfast in bed or taking mom out to dinner.

Songs for moms can be found all over the world and this is one of our favorites. It’s not a traditional Mother’s Day song but it talks about the special bond between a mother and her child.  Here’s the story behind the song.

Here Come Our Mother’s Bringing Us Presents

In some of the small villages in South Africa where Zulu is spoken, moms often have their own garden or small farm. They work very hard growing good things for their family to eat. At harvest time, they collect what they’ve grown and stock it away for the year. But there’s always a bit left over. So they take their produce to market and sell it.  And then they buy whatever else they need.  But there’s always a bit left over.  With that little bit of extra money, the mother’s think about what their children might love to have from town… a delicious fruit, a special sweet or something else that will delight their child.

On that day, the children are always very good. They do their chores without being told. Perhaps they sweep up their yards or help out someone who lives nearby. They make sure they don’t squabble with their siblings. Then, when the kids finally see their moms coming toward home, they begin to sing this song, imagining what their mother’s might have brought for them.

It’s Interactive!

Like so many wonderful folksongs, this song is great for “remaking” with your family or classroom.  You can sing the song in exactly the same way,  but the items in the verses can change. Instead of apples and bananas, perhaps you’ll see blueberries and cherries. Instead of cookies and sweet things, you might find marshmallows, granola bars or maybe even chocolate chip cookies!

Feel free to play with the song and make it your own!  And a very happy Mothers Day to all!

Links and Resources

Screen shot 2016-05-05 at 11.22.41 AMFree Lyric Sheet – Here’s Come Our Mothers https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/A-SONG-FOR-MOTHERS-DAY-Here-Come-Our-Mothers-501097

Here’s Come Our Mothers From Itunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/i-have-a-dream/id49532398

Here’s Come Our Mothers From Amazon mp3 https://amzn.com/B0013PLG40

Color the Mothers –  2 Free Coloring Pages From Video http://www.dariamusic.com/docs/HERE%20COME%20OUR%20MOTHERS%20-%20Moms%20page.pdf http://www.dariamusic.com/docs/HERE%20COME%20OUR%20MOTHERS%20-%20KIDS%20PAGE.jpg

A Mother’s Day Song in Spanish http://multikidsmusicvids.com/?p=1619

Turn a Milk Jug Into a Recycled Shekere

recycled shekeres in classDo you know the three R’s? Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

How about the four “R’s”?   Reduce, Reuse, Recycle… and Rock Out! While you’re going greener and thinking about reducing or reusing plastic, here’s a fun way to turn large containers into child-size versions of African shekeres.

What’s a Shekere?

I wonder if shekeres were “original recycling projects”. Perhaps someone looked at dried gourds and decided they could be made into musical instruments. To do this, a netting of beads (called a skirt) was crafted around the gourd and small beads, seeds or shells were strung in the fiber to create the sound of the instrument. Most music historians believe the shekere began in West Africa but can now be found with variations in size, beadwork, shape and manner of playing throughout the African continent and around the world.

A Milk Jug Shekere

Since you probably have more plastic containers than cleaned and dried gourds, start by finding an empty milk jug, large water bottle or similar item from your recycling bin. Before you begin, make sure it fits nicely into your child’s hands.

Recycled shekere plus paper to beadBeading With Stickers or Markers

Doing intricate crafts like beading is great fun but takes practice and patience, plus motor skills that can be a difficult for small children. Here’s an easy alternative.

If your container is clear and clean, you can place stickers directly onto the plastic bottle or draw “beads” with markers, making colorful patterns or shapes. If there’s a label on the container, you can cut out a piece of poster board or construction paper to fit the container and lay the paper flat. This makes for easy “sticker beading” and a fun way to explore patterns, shapes and colors with your young child.

If you’re working with a classroom of kids or have a limited time to do this project, you can skip the aspect of trying to “bead” the shekere and allow the kids to simply decorate the outside of the container.

Sounding Good!

mini shekere for storeIn traditional shekeres, the sound comes from the beads or seeds rattling on the outside of the gourd. In our recycled version, we’ll need to add something inside the container to create the sound.   Here are some suggestions for a quieter recycled shekere: sand, salt, sugar, tiny pasta (like acini de pepi), seed beads, Q-tips and paper clips. Here are some fillings you can use to create a louder instrument: pebbles, dried pasta, dried beans, popcorn kernels, marbles or pennies.

Once you’ve filled your shekere and you like the sound it makes. Put the cap on and seal it into place with heavy duty tape to keep this project child-safe.

plastic shekereTime to Play

Although a shekere is a rattle, there’s a lot of different ways you can play it. Here are some playing suggestions:

Hold the handle and shake.

Hold both sides and rattle the contents back and forth.

Hold both sides and toss it gently while twisting it.

Hold it vertically and toss it gently from hand to hand.

Peru_Preschool_ShakureSit a short distance from a friend and toss it back and forth.

With a group of children, sit in a circle and toss it from child to child around the circle.

Try any of the above ideas while singing or while music is playing. Try to shake along to the beat.

Links and Resources

Hear A Shekere

http://www.dariamusic.com/shekere.php

Color a Shekere Online

http://www.dariamusic.com/color_Shekere.php

Bead an African Shekere

https://makingmulticulturalmusic.wordpress.com/2013/12/04/bead-your-own-african-shekere/

2 recycled smilk jug shekeresMake a Classroom Shekere (From A Gourd)

http://tinytappingtoes.wordpress.com/2013/08/05/easy-gourd-shekere-for-a-child-or-a-classroom/

An Alphabet Shekere Game

http://www.trueaimeducation.com/2012/10/guest-post-learning-letters-with-an-alphabet-shekere.html

Sekere.com – Beaded Sekeres from Master Craftswoman, Sara Fabunmi

http://www.sekere.com

Cultural Value of the Shekere, Article By Sara Fabunmi

https://makingmulticulturalmusic.wordpress.com/2011/10/25/the-cultural-value-of-the-sekere/

A Vuvuzela – This Horn’s For You!

The world cup is coming up and who doesn’t love to cheer on their favorite sports team with a mighty blast of a honking horn? Whether you’re a soccer fan or just want to make some joyful noise, it’s easy to create your own homemade horn that looks a lot like the vuvuzelas used in soccer matches around the world!

What’s a Vuvuzela?

Although it’s now a common site at soccer matches all over the globe, it’s hard to tell exactly how the vuvuzela was invented. One South African soccer fan claims stadium workers vuvuhe invented the vuvuzela by reshaping a bicycle horn into a mightier instrument and there are pictures from the 1950’s and 1960’s that prove it. Later, the vuvuzela was used as part of worship in South African churches but this type of stadium horn clearly took center stage when the world cup came to South Africa. Dozens of reporter from around the globe declared their love (or hatred) of this new musical fad!

A Real Vuvuzela Is Loud!

vuvu south koreaReal vuvuzelas are incredibly loud and are actually banned from some public areas in South Africa for that reason. They are also rather big – some more than 18 or 24 inches long! Thankfully, kids versions are smaller, quieter and some even come as plastic, collapsible horns that can be easily taken to a local game or sports events.

Make Your Own Vuvuzela

Can’t find a vuvu near you? Then make your own version out of some basic materials from around the house. Here’s what you need:

kyra pl;ays a vuvuMaterials:

Plastic cup

Cardboard roll from paper towels

Manilla folder

Sturdy tape and

Materials for decoration

vuvu brazilYou can find step-by-step directions in the craft pdf below, but it’s quite easy. The plastic cup becomes the bell of the horn and fits into the cardboard roll. You’ll add a bit of manilla folder to fill out the horn and then decorate with your favorite colors or emblems from the team of your choice. Then, you play.
Check out the free craft pdf’s below for playing tips as well. And get ready for a good, hearty hoooonnnnk!

Win A Vuvuzela Plus a World Cup Activity Pack from KBN

On June 5th, my friends from Kid Blogger Network will give away a pack of world cup activities and prizes. I’ll donate the plastic vuvuzela, so you can win one of your own. Check back to this blog to get word of when the contest is live or subscribe to my feed to never miss a new musical post!

vuvu thumbnailResources

Make A Vuvezela Craft Activity – Free From WORLD MUSC WITH DARIA

http://www.dariamusic.com/docs/Vuvuzela.pdf

Make A Vuvezela Craft Activity – Free From TeachersPayTeachers

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/The-Vuvuzela-Make-Play-Your-Own-South-African-Stadium-Horn-1242716

A Song About Mothers from South Africa

HERE COME OUR MOTHERS - coloring page

A while back I recorded a folksong that I learned from Ladysmith Black Mambazo – the amazing vocal group from South Africa.  “Here Come Our Mothers, Bringing Us Presents” is a beautiful mixture of  English and Zulu lyrics and tells the story of a group of mothers returning home to their children.

Although it’s not a traditional “Mother’s Day” song, it has been used in many multicultural celebrations of moms around the globe and can be found free on my TPT store during May 2014, here:

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/A-SONG-FOR-MOTHERS-DAY-Here-Come-Our-Mothers-501097

Here’s the video with a big shout out to Philadelphia-based artist (and mom), Brittney Knox who created both the artwork and animation here.

Here’s how the story behind the song goes.

In one small village in South Africa, the women worked very hard all year long to grow wonderful things in their gardens.  When the harvest was done and the crops were stored, they had some extra that they took to town to sell.

After they sold what was extra from their bountiful harvest, they bought the supplies they needed and had a little money left over.  With that money, they purchased treats and special things to bring home to their children.

On that day – at home – the children were busy being very good.  Perhaps they were sweeping the yard, or cleaning up.  They were taking good care of their siblings and not fighting with them – not one bit!   And since they waited all day for their mothers to return, they were very excited when they saw them returning to the village.

The song:  “Here Come Our Mothers, Bringing Us Presents” is what the children would sing as they imagined what was inside the baskets and bundles coming home as treats.  It was a wonderful way to celebrate their mother’s return.

Although most moms get presents on Mother’s Day and the moms in this folk tune bring the presents, the concept behind the song is universal.  Mothers have a special place in their children’s hearts – both when they are young and forever!

 

 

 

Simple Instruments from Africa For Children

Making music with young children is a great way of combining creativity and fun with learning about global cultures.  Whether you are quietly crafting, reading and researching or drumming and dancing, here are some simple instruments that can be a part of any study of the diverse and beautiful cultures of Africa.

this tongue rattle hereMake It Rattle!

Different types of rattles can be found throughout Africa and the world.  They are easy to hold and play for kids of all ages and almost all abilities.   Here are three very different rattles from Africa – one that even can be seen in hieroglyphics that date back to ancient Egypt!  All of these are perfect to be made and played by small hands!

Tongue Rattle

http://makingmulticulturalmusic.wordpress.com/2012/10/02/make-your-own-african-style-tongue-rattle/

Caxixi Rattle

http://tinytappingtoes.wordpress.com/2013/02/05/make-your-own-woven-caxixi-rattle/

Egyptian Sistrum Rattle – Make It From A Recycled Hanger

the Eco-Egyptian Sistrum

Egyptian Sistrum Rattle – Make It From A Tree Branch

the Natural Egyptian Sistrum

Egyptian Sistrum Coloring Page
the Egyptian Sistrum Coloring Page

South African drummer - farahHands On The Drum!

There are an astounding number of different drums and drumming traditions throughout Africa.  Crafting a simple hand drum from recycled materials is a great place to start an exploration of drumming for very young children.

http://www.dariamusic.com/docs/Make%20Your%20Own%20African%20Drum.pdf

Shake A Shekere

In this unique and beautiful percussion instrument, the rattle is on the outside of the gourd.  It can be shaken back and forth, tossed hand to hand or used like a ball in simple children’s musical games.  To hear or color a shekere or find crafting instructions and simple activities, check out the links below.

shekere iconHear A Shekere

http://www.dariamusic.com/shekere.php

Color A Shekere Online

http://www.dariamusic.com/color_Shekere.php

Make Your Own Shekere

http://www.dariamusic.com/make_Shekere.php

Easy Gourd Shekere For A Kid Or A Classroom

http://tinytappingtoes.wordpress.com/2013/08/05/easy-gourd-shekere-for-a-child-or-a-classroom/

Alphabet Shekere

http://www.trueaimeducation.com/2012/10/guest-post-learning-letters-with.html

 

Easy Gourd Shekere For A Child – Or A Classroom

Peru_Preschool_Shakure

A shekere is a wonderful, versatile instrument from Africa.  Made from dried gourds of various sizes, the instrument has a netting over its rounded area that is beaded or woven with shells, seeds, nuts or other objects that rattle.  Since making the knots for the netting can be hard for smaller hands, we’re sharing a simplified version perfect for making with a child, a group of siblings or a classroom of kids.

Start With A Gourd

Shekeres are made from dried birdhouse gourds.  After they are harvested and stored for about a year in a dry location, they become sturdy and have a hardened outer shell.  As the gourds dry, the shell may not look perfect so some craftspeople sand the shell, bleach the shell or even paint and decorate it to make it more appealing before they begin the beading process.  You can try any of those approaches as well or use them “au natural”.

white gourd + necklace - shekere being madeMake A Gourd Necklace

The formal beadwork on a shekere is called a skirt.  For this project, our gourds will only have a necklace instead of a full “skirt”.

Take a piece of string, twine or embroidery thread and twist it around the top of the gourd, marking where it will overlap.  Measure it tight enough to stay on the gourd, but loose enough to rattle.  Don’t tie the string but instead lay it flat on a work surface.  It can be helpful to tape it into place.  Looking at the length of the string, you can get a good idea of how many strands of beads you can create to put onto it.

little gourd shekereJingles, Jangles and Bangles

Collect your bangles!  Look for any type of beads, buttons, jingle bells or similar objects you can use to create the sound of your instrument.  Here are some ideas for making several different types of creative shekeres.

Parent/Child Shekere

Parent and child create strands of noise-makers and they are strung alternately on the gourd.

Sibling – Friendship Shekere

Sister and brothers or friends create strands of noise-makers and they are strung on the gourd.

Classroom or Group Shekere

Each student or participant makes one string of noise-makers to add to the classroom instrument.

After you’ve finished creating your strands, add them to the necklace and tie it into place on the gourd.

mini shekere for storePlaying A Simple Shekere

Although these easy shekeres may not seem as versatile as their bigger cousins, you can hold them from the top and create several different types of rhythms. And if dried gourds are not readily available in your area, we’re also sharing a link below for making a recycled version out of plastic milk jugs.

Experiment with what you’ve created and have a blast!

shekere iconShekere Resources And Links

Hear A Shekere

http://www.dariamusic.com/shekere.php

Color A Shekere Online

http://www.dariamusic.com/color_Shekere.php

Make Your Own Shekere From Plastic Milk Jugs

http://www.dariamusic.com/make_Shekere.php

alphabet shekere 2Use A Shekere To Learn The Alphabet!

http://www.trueaimeducation.com/2012/10/guest-post-learning-letters-with.html

Shekere Kits And Step-By-Step Tutorial Available from DARIA’s Little Village store

http://dariasvillagestore.storenvy.com/