Tag Archives: Mexico music

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/

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3 Great Music Crafts for Cinco De Mayo!

Childhood LearningCinco de Mayo is a wonderful time to learn more about Mexican history and culture. Making and playing simple instruments from Mexico is great fun for even the youngest child. Here are three easy music crafts that will let your little one try their hand at joining in the musical fun of this special holiday!

Make Some Maracas!

If you have two small water bottles and two toilet paper rolls, plus a bit of filling and tape, you can make a sturdy pair of great-sounding maracas.  Basically, maracas are two rattles held by the handles and played with both hands. Imagine the fun you can have with music and with music and movement with these!

prize maracas 1Professional maracas have different sounds in each of the containers and you can try that as well. You can fill your recycled instrument with combinations like beans and rice, paper clips and erasers or smaller and larger dried pasta pieces. That way the left and right maraca will make different sounds when shaken and you can create even more the rhythms with the pair!

homemade button maracasNeed a full tutorial, with different playing suggestions? You can find one here: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Latin-American-Intruments-Make-Your-Own-Maracas-1428029

Be A Guiro Hero!

Even if you don’t recognize the word “guiro”, you’ll know the sound right away! It’s the instrument that makes the “b-r-r-r-r-r-r” sound often heard in Latin American and Caribbean music. And it’s really fun for kids to play!

homemade guiro and 6 raspsThe sound is achieved by rubbing a stick, a scraper or a rasp over a series of ridges – and any plastic water bottle with firm ridges makes a fantastic guiro. Filling the water bottle with colorful shredded paper, confetti or similar items makes it even more fun to play. When I do this project with kids or classes, I like to use an unsharpened pencil attached to the bottle with colorful yarn as my scraper, but there are lots of other items you can use as well and each one produces a unique sound. Try whisks, hair picks, chopsticks or even plastic spoons, forks, or sporks for percussion play!

Click, Clack…Castanets!

This is another creative project for discovering rhythms or developing fine motor skills. Eli and Button CastanetsCastanets originally came from the European region of Spain and Portugal and some historians believe they were actually made from tapping together walnut shells before they were crafted out of wood.

Our recycled project doesn’t include nuts or carved wood. We create fun little workable castanets out of sturdy paper and buttons or various sizes. You make them in pairs and – you guessed it – each different set of buttons makes different sounds.

Playing suggestions? Get the hang of tapping them together and separately. Then play along to your favorite songs or try singing and tapping at the same time. Often played as part of the flamenco music tradition heard in Spain and in Mexico, you’ll be amazed at how a talented castanet player can use this tiny instrument as part of a breath-taking performance.

Here’s an example of a well-known flamenco dancer and castanet player named La Emi from Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Is Cinco de Mayo Mexican Independence Day (Spoiler Alert – No!)

By the way, do you know what the 5th of May actually celebrates?  If you don’t you can check out this history freebie from my TPT Store here: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/What-is-Cinco-De-Mayo-2514584

Links And Resources

Free Mariachi Guitar Coloring Page
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Mariachi-Guitar-Coloring-Page-2511636

Hear or Color a Guiro   http://www.dariamusic.com/guiro.php

Make Your Own Guiro from TPT
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Make-Your-Own-Latin-American-Guiro-1230266

Cinco De Mayo Music Crafts E-Book From TeachersPayTeachers
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Cinco-De-Mayo-Music-Crafts-2507025

10 Musical Crafts For Exploring Hispanic Heritage
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Celebrate-Hispanic-Heritage-Musical-Craft-And-Coloring-E-Book-1427919