Category Archives: Simple Instruments

Make Your Own Egyptian Sistrum And Join The MENA Blog Hop!

sistrum color image

We’re proud to be part of the Middle Eastern North Africa blog hop. Naturally we have a post about music, but make sure you check out all the other related posts (listed below) to learn more about this beautiful and culturally rich part of the world.

Crafting is a great hands-on way for kids to learn about world cultures, so our post shows you how to make a sistrum, a unique rattle that was used in the courts of the Pharoahs of ancient Egypt.

What is a Sistrum?

You can see images of sistrums in hieroglyphics found in the pyramids. A bit of study of the courts of the Pharoahs reveals that the sistrum was played mainly by women or priestesses and that it was played by moving it back and forth from side to side so that the metal bangles create a unique sound and distinctive rhythms.  It was often part of ceremonial or the sacred/religious music of the time.

sistrums - sticksMake Your Own Sistrum From a Tree Branch

If you take a walk in a wooded area, it’s easy to find a tree branch that is shaped like the letter “Y”. You can use the branch “as is” or cut and sand it down, if you like.

Next, you’ll need a bit of floral wire or craft wire. Wrap it around one side of the Y, then add whatever bangles you may have. Below we have a post showing how to safely make bangles from bottlecaps, which is a fun recycling project. Instead – or in addition to bangles – you can also use things like beads, making sistrums peace valleyjingle bells or bits of jewelry to add to the bling of your sistrum. Be as creative as you like!

Playing A Sistrum

Although the traditional way to play a sistrum is to move it back and forth only, it’s a rattle so feel free to use it as a percussion instrument any way you like.

Links and Resources

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

Make Your Own Bangles From Bottlecaps Post – http://www.tinytappingtoes.com/ecologynature/how-to-make-bottle-cap-bangles-for-recycled-musical-instruments/
Middle Eastern and North African Heritage Month | Multicultural Kid Blogs

Welcome to the third annual Middle Eastern and North African Heritage Month series from Multicultural Kid Blogs! Follow along all month long for great resources on teaching children about the heritage of this region, and link up your own posts below. Don’t miss our series from last year and from 2015!

You can also find even more resources on our North Africa and the Middle East Pinterest board:

 


August 4 Sand In My Toes on Multicultural Kid Blogs: 10 Fun Facts About the United Arab Emirates
August 8 A Crafty Arab: Jordan Craft Stick Flag Tutorial
August 15 Sand In My Toes: Wind Tower Craft (UAE)
August 17 All Done Monkey: MENA Countries Worksheets
August 18 Tiny Tapping Toes
August 21 Biracial Bookworms on Multicultural Kid Blogs
August 23 Jeddah Mom
August 28 Crafty Moms Share
August 30 Creative World of Varya

 

Link Up Your Posts!


 

FacebookTwitterGoogle+Share

Win 12 Great Multicultural Summer Music Projects

Summer Camp TPT CoverMusic camp?  Backyard staycation?  Last minute playdate?  We’ve created this fun compilation of activity pdf’s from our readers favorite projects for summer musical fun.  Not only are all these crafts made from items you already have around the house but they also teach about the cultural background of each instrument – such as Hawaiian pu’ili rhythm sticks or Aboriginal Australian didgeridoos and bilma clapsticks. And everything is so simple that even a grown-up can do it!

Want to win a copy? Jump on in right here!  Two lucky winners will get the this fun compilation so they can musically craft their way all around the world this summer.

If you can’t wait to get it, the TPT link is below – and it’s half price during the month of July. Plus there are links to related summer musical fun.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Links And Resources

12 Great Summer Crafts from DARIA’s TPT store – https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/12-Summer-Camp-Music-Crafts-3243132

Make An Ocean Drum From Recycled Materials – http://www.tinytappingtoes.com/babies-and-music/make-an-ocean-drum-for-world-oceans-day/

Make A Rhythm Tree: http://www.tinytappingtoes.com/early-learning-with-music/a-rhythm-tree-for-earth-day-or-any-day/

Make An Earth Day Nature Walk Rattle: http://www.tinytappingtoes.com/early-learning-with-music/make-an-earth-day-nature-walk-rattle/

 

The Yaqui Gourd Water Drum From Ancient Mexico 

ghana gourd drumOne of my favorite instruments to bring around to schools is a water drum made from a gourd. Kids and adults are often shocked when I pour water into one of the gourds and float the other on top to create the drum.  Then they are amazing by the deep, resonant sound. But where did a unique and creative instrument like this come from?  Interestingly enough, gourd water drums are found in both African cultures and in the indigenous cultures that inhabit present day Mexico and the Southwestern United States.

yaqui water drumWe caught up with a talented musician from Los Angeles named Christopher Garcia who not only plays them, but has thoroughly researched their background and shares these traditional instruments with audiences around the world.

And, at the end of this post, you’ll find our DIY water drum craft. Although our plastic water drum doesn’t sound exactly like the real thing, it does produce great drum sounds and is a fun way to encourage sensory play with water and sound.

Christopher Garcia – Teaching About Indigenous Meso American Instruments

Before Spanish Conquistadors arrived in present day Mexico and the Southwestern US, indigenous cultures such as the Yaqui were flourishing with rich music and cultural lives. Many of these indigenous groups trace their history to the civilizations of the Mayan and Aztec peoples. Beautiful and unusual instruments used in their music include the water drum, singing stones, unique flutes and a marimba made of turtle shells. Christopher details many of these unique instruments at his website below, but here you can see him playing the gourd water drum and the gourd water drum plus the turtle shell marimba and singing stones.

Turtle Shells, Singing Stones And a Wooden Drum

Make Your Own Version Of A Gourd Water Drum

plastic water drum playingWe’ve done a whole post on taking various sized rounded plastic containers, floating them on the surface of the water and getting some of the same tones you’d hear on gourd water drums. You can get creative and try it yourself in a bucket, kiddie pool or basin of water, or check out that full post at the link below.

Links and Resources

Make A Gourd Water Drum from Plastic Containers
http://www.tinytappingtoes.com/uncategorized/musical-water-play-a-myo-gourd-style-water-drum/

Christopher Garcia’s Indigenous Instruments of Mexico/Mesoamerica
http://indigenousinstrumentsof mexicomesoamerica.weebly.com/

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/

5 Tips to Introduce Your Child to the Ukulele

running boy and uke

Guest Post By Colleen Kinsey

The ukulele is a fun sized instrument that has kids and adults, grinning after the first string is plucked.  Ukuleles are the perfect instrument for kids because they are small and easy to play, plus it’s relatively inexpensive compared to other instruments. Learning the ukulele will increase your child’s memory skills, improves coordination, boost confidence, and nurture skills to make them successful as adults.

When I talk to parents, one of their favorite reasons for getting their kid started on the ukulele is because the soft, mellow tune isn’t heard throughout the entire house! Before you run to the local music shop and to purchase one, follow these five steps to introduce your child to the ukulele.

ukulele COMPLETE coloring pageStart from the Very Beginning

Music lessons take all forms and can begin right after birth. As a new parent, swaying and dancing with your baby introduces them to a musical environment. With your toddler, you can play simple movement activities and games. Even playing music in the car can count as a music lesson, which helps them build a positive relationship with music.

Around the age of three, you can start putting your child in more formalized lessons. The goal isn’t to pick up a ukulele and start plucking, it’s more for them to develop basic skills like identifying a beat or a melody. When you’re looking for classes, make sure you and your teacher have the same musical goals for your child.

By the age of 5, you can introduce your child to a variety of instruments. I recommend finding a program that allows your child to play many different types. Forcing your child to only play the ukulele, without trying out other options can be a recipe for disaster. It helps to see what instrument your child is drawn to and enjoys playing before investing in one.

If you and your kid decide that the ukulele is the right instrument, you can start them in formal ukulele lessons. When your child reaches the age of 10, they will have acquired enough skills and physical strength to play the ukulele for longer periods of time.

Choose the Right Ukulele

Before you run out to buy a shiny new ukulele, make sure you are getting the appropriate size, shape, and style for them to learn on. I suggest consulting with a music teacher or a knowledgeable ukulele player before buying this uke prize packinstrument. If you purchase one for your child without doing a bit of ukulele research, you will risk their ukulele education being counterproductive.

Have your kid test out a few ukes at the music shop. My favorite method is to pick 3 ukuleles that are the appropriate size, style, and in your budget then let them choose their instrument. After all, they are the ones that are going to be playing it every day. Empowering your child to choose their own ukulele and make decisions helps cultivate a good relationship with the instrument.

Be an Involved Parent

I have seen many children that have real talent and knack for the ukulele, but ukulele parenttheir skills fall flat due to the lack of time spent practicing at home. Having a practice schedule at home goes well beyond mastering the instrument. It teaches your child self-discipline, which is something that will help them be a successful adult. Self-discipline isn’t second nature for a child, so it’s your job as the parent to find engaging and positive ways to encourage self-motivation.

If you have a child that struggles to get their daily practice in, try different approaches to the task. Consider what time you’re having them pick up the ukulele. The typical student will practice after school, but sometimes children are more motivated at the beginning of the day. It may take some trial and error to determine what works best for your family.

I had one parent that thought of a unique way to motivate their child. They got a handful of dried beans and let their child decorate the beans with paint and glitter. When they practiced at home, she would get a bean for each part of the lesson she completed. Finding fun ways to motivate your child will help them associate fun with learning the ukulele and teach them self-discipline.

 Set Easy to Accomplish Goals

A practice session can be useless without attainable goals for your child to accomplish. Children will feel proud when they have successfully completed a goal, which will motivate them to continue playing. Writing down what they want to accomplish or adding gold stars to their practice log is a great way for them to feel proud of themselves.

Work with your ukulele teacher to determine what the appropriate benchmarks should be. Each practice session should incorporate multiple goals, whether it’s to hit every ukulele chord without faltering or play a song from start to finish.  Here’s a great resource for learning  ukulele chords .

Performances

Ukulele girlPerformances provide a motivation to practice, because your child will want to play well front of other people. Your music teacher should have an end of the year recital, but as a parent you can incorporate small performances throughout the year.

Start by having your kid play the ukulele for the family after dinner. The sound of applause after a song well done is a great incentive. If your child feels comfortable, some don’t, try to get them to play at your extended family gatherings. This provides them a safe environment to play in front of people they know. It also allows them to get over the feeling of stage fright and boosts their confidence.

Not only is the ukulele a fun instrument to play, but it helps teach your child self-discipline and boosts their confidence. Learning the uke increases their math, listening, reading, comprehension, and social skills all excellent reasons to put a ukulele in your child’s hands.

About The Author  – Colleen is a traveler, ukulele instructor, and Editor in Chief to  Coustii a website devoted to teaching guitar and ukulele skills to people online. She is based in Des Moines, Iowa, but her ukulele has been with her around the world.  You can find out more about here musical travels, here: Travel Meets Happy.

Make An Ocean Drum for World Oceans Day

me and the dolphinHave you heard of World Oceans Day? Celebrated annually on June 8th, it’s an internationally recognized and celebrated day to learn, share, preserve and promote one of our most magnificent resources, the oceans and seas.

The World Oceans Days website (link below) is a wealth of information – including research on pollution, posters in 15 languages, and a variety of action steps that anyone can take to make a difference. Visit the site to learn how oceans regulate our climate, generate most of the oxygen we breathe, clean the water that we drink and so much more.

Want to combine your learning with a fun recycled music craft?  Here’s a way you can reduce, reuse, recycle and make a great homemade drum that sounds remarkably like the sea!

What Is An Ocean Drum?

If you live near the sea or have visited an ocean, you know the wonderful, traditional ocean drumrelaxing sound of waves coming and going along the seashore. An ocean drum is a 2 sided hand drum that – when played – sounds just like the surf. In fact, if you close your eyes, you can imagine you are right there on the beach, hearing the waves as they come and go.

Above is a picture of a traditional ocean drum.

Make Your Own Recycled Ocean Drum

blue ocean drum kimbertonCheck your recycling bin.  Do you have a sturdy pizza box or a mailing box with dimensions somewhat like the one seen here?  If you do, you can fill the bottom of the box with sand, salt, seed beads or any tiny pasta (like acini de pepe). There’s also some great ways to create a window to the drum, decorate the outside and seal the box so the contents don’t escape and you can use it for weeks to come.

Ocean Drum Tutorial Free

Want a step-by-step tutorial plus other great info on this drum and world music instruments? Until June 16th, we’ve reduced the price of this great kids music resource to – free!  (Note: If you read this post after June 16, 2017 and need a free educator’s copy, just contact daria at dariamusic at yahoo dot com for more info).

Links And Resources

ocean drum pdfFree Tutorial – MYO Ocean Drum – https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Ocean-Drum-Craft-1567951

World Oceans Day – Main Sitehttp://www.worldoceansday.org/

Find An Oceans Day Event Near You – http://www.worldoceansday.org/events_list

Playing The Spoons As an Instrument – In Russia!

Russian wooden spoonsAnyone who has experienced “down home” American folk music has probably heard a musician play the spoons. If you haven’t – then you’re in for a treat and check out the post below titled: “It’s So Easy to Play The Spoons!”

But, did you know that playing spoons as percussion is a part of traditional Russian folk music as well? Although the sound of the clicking and clacking of the spoons is similar, the Russian technique of playing adds a few really neat twists that put it in a league of it’s own!

Russian Spoons or Lozhki

Known as lozhki (Ло́жки), Russian musical spoons most often are the beautifully carved and decorated wooden spoons famous in that part of the world. Where American spoon players usually use two silver spoons in one hand, Russian players typically play three or more and use both hands. They can also put extra spoons in pockets or on their clothes and use them as extra percussion surfaces.

If you watch this video of a folk orchestra featuring a spoon player, you’ll see some pretty amazing hand (and foot) work!

How do you pronounce “lozhki”? You can hear the correct pronunciation of the Russian word for spoons here: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b5/Ru-%D0%BB%D0%BE%D0%B6%D0%BA%D0%B0.ogg

Links and Resources

It’s So Easy to Play The Spoons! http://www.tinytappingtoes.com/classroom-music/its-so-simple-to-play-the-spoons/

Balalaika – Free Coloring Page: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Balalaika-Free-Coloring-Page-3030487

A Rhythm Tree For Earth Day Or Any Day

Here’s a great project for Earth Day or a summer camp or group play activity. It’s a fun way to combine recycling and reusing materials with discovering rhythm and creative music-making.

A while back, we did a post about rhythm trees and you can find that listed below.  But since we also get questions about the best components for this project, we thought we’d share a list here, just in time for outdoor musical fun.

And remember, if you don’t have the perfect music tree, you can also do this project on a clothesline or between poles on a playground.

So here’s our top suggestions.

Pizza Pie Plate Gong

STARR GARDENS - a few instruments for Rhythm TreeThese sound great and provide a nice large surface for tapping and drumming. Look for used metal containers such as turkey pans or pizza pie plates. They can be painted and decorated and hung at various heights from your tree or clothesline. If you can find trash can lids or used pans or pots that aren’t too heavy, they might make a nice addition to the project as well.

Milk Jug Rattle

Rhythm tree - clothesline instrumentsClean a large plastic container and add some rattling components inside. Decorate the outside of the container, if you like as well.  Seal it up and hang it for a nice sound when tapped. If you hang it low enough, kids can also grab and shake or “swoosh” the container for a different kind of percussion sound.

A Giant Guiro

rhythm tree - paper towel roll guiroThreading together wrapping paper or poster tube rolls makes for a giant guiro. Take a stick or a whisk and brush it down the sides for a fun repeating percussive sound.

 

Hanging Log Drum

rhythm tree playing tubeIf you can find a large tube like these, you can hang it up and play it like the type of log drums found in Africa, the Pacific Islands or the Northern Native American tribes, like the Inuit.  Tapping different sections of the drum will produce slightly different sounds – what fun!

Play With Your Hands – Or With Recycled Mallets

homemade guiro and 6 raspsSome of the instruments you hang can be tapped or played with your hands. Easy mallets can also be created from wooden dowels, wooden spoons, sticks, unsharpened pencils, plastic spoons or forks, hair picks, chopsticks or similar objects.

 

What Else Can You Find To Make Music With?

little-guy-and-washboardThe best part of this project is seeing how creative kids can be with everyday items. Encourage your little ones to come up with suggestions of what else might become part of an amazing and fun musical tree.

Links and Resources

Make Your Own Rhythm Tree:  http://www.tinytappingtoes.com/classroom-music/a-music-tree-or-rhythm-clothesline-for-outdoor-musical-fun/

Natural Instruments – Sticks, Stones and Bamboo Percussion For Kids: http://www.tinytappingtoes.com/uncategorized/all-natural-instruments-sticks-stones-and-bamboo-percussion-for-kids/

Seven Awesome Summer Music Activities:  http://www.tinytappingtoes.com/early-learning-with-music/7-awesome-summer-music-ideas/

Turn A Milk Jug Into A Recycled Shekere: http://www.tinytappingtoes.com/classroom-music/turn-a-milk-jug-into-a-recycled-shekere/

The Pow-Wow Drum – Making a Beat, Together With Friends!

#31daysofrhythm FB

Did you now that March is Music In Our Schools month? What a great way to focus on how music enriches the lives of all students, young and old!

I’m part of a group of music educators that want parents, teachers and everyone to find lots of fun and creative ways to share music with kids. This year, our theme is “31 days of rhythm” so I wanted to share a bit about how pow-wow drumming.

What’s A Pow-Wow Drum?

Seven Cedars Sing At University of Pensylvania MuseumIf you’ve ever been to a Native American gathering, the pow-wow drum is at the center of the event.  At most pow-wows you’ll see a group of either men or women gathered around a big drum and everyone is playing and singing at the same time. They are all playing in unison, meaning the goal is to strike the drum together. And when a great drum group is playing, it sounds like thunder and shows the power of what people can do when they work (or play) cooperatively!

Make Your Own Pow-Wow Drum

DALLAS girls making drum at women's museumActual pow-wow drums are beautiful and many are very special and sacred. But I’ve done a post that explores the first pow-wow drum and you can easily make that at home. You can find it here as well as check out the sound of a traditional drum group playing and singing: http://www.dariamusic.com/drum.php

You’ll Need a Drum Beater

To play a pow-wow drum, each drummer needs their own beater. Check this link feathered drum beaterfor an equally simple craft to make your own pow-wow drum beaters: http://www.tinytappingtoes.com/classroom-music/make-a-little-drum-beater-for-a-big-drum/

Now Let’s Play!

Every child can find a place around the fabric drum, holding the drum with one hand and their beater in the other. Then, they strike the drum together – at the same time. At first, a teacher or adult may want to tap out a beat to any familiar song and encourage the children to play along, hitting the drum at exactly the same time. Once the kids get the idea, the leader can also ask the children to kids drumming in DARIA workshop - ISRAELlisten carefully and do what she/he does. While playing the same song, she/he can play softer and they should tap softer.  He/she can play harder or a bit faster or slower and the drum group should do the same.

In Native cultures, drumming is just one way of teaching cooperation and listening skills as well.

Drumming Together

To practice drumming together, you might wish to try a simple song I used while teaching music and English in the Middle East. The students wanted to learn the days of the week in English so they drummed to the following little song. Whoever was leading set the pace and played the rhythm as they sang. When they finished, they pointed to someone who had listened and played well to be the next leader.

(one beat) Sunday,
(one beat) Monday,
(one beat) Tuesday,
(one beat) Wednesday,
(one beat) Thursday,
(one beat) Friday and
(three beats) SAT-UR-DAY (beaters must stop and raised in the air).

Happy drumming and check out all the posts for the 31 Days of Rhythm right here: https://musicedblogs.com/

Make An Irish Drum – Tutorial Free This Week!

Need a last minute St. Patrick’s Day craft?  You’ll love to make and play this easy Irish drum. And learn a bit about it’s history and culture as well.

To get your free copy, just head over to my TeachersPayTeachers store, where’s Screen shot 2017-03-15 at 1.38.20 PMit’s marked down to “0” until March 19th. And while you’re there – would you kindly follow me on TPT to get monthly notices of what’s new and other musicals freebies and goodies you might like. https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Irish-Drum-Make-and-Play-Your-Own-Bodhran-and-Tipper-2410657

Don’t have time to get the tutorial?  Here’s an older post that tells you all about the bodhrán (pronounced bow-ron) drum.

http://www.tinytappingtoes.com/uncategorized/make-your-own-bodhran-irish-drum/

Wishing you have a happy, healthy and green St. Patrick’s Day!