Tag Archives: world music

Where To Buy World Music Instrument – For Your Kids or Classroom!

sunita playing quijadaI’ve traveled the world to perform and I love to share really amazing world music instruments with my audiences when I play live.   The three most frequent questions I get are: “What is that?” “Where does it come from” and “Where can I find it for my child or my classroom?”.

These questions are not surprising. People around the world make music in some really beautiful and unique ways. It’s a great way to celebrate diversity or teach about world cultures.  And folk instruments are fascinating.  They generally come from natural or recycled materials,  like turning bamboo into Hawaiian rhythm sticks called pu’ili or using seed pods from the “ice cream tree” to make pacay rattles.  Bushel gourds turn into water drums and smaller gourds learn to dance as shekeres.  This is not just a fun sensory experience for a child but also a way to share creativity and encourage music-making as awesome tingsha, limberjack, kalimbaplay!

But if you haven’t just gotten off a plane from some remote location, how do you find these great instruments for your kids? Here are my best tips with an emphasis on places you can buy things that are fair trade.

SAFETY FIRST

Before we begin, I encourage any parent or teacher to think of safety first. Any

Rattles made from gourds, seeds, feathers and a donkey's jawbone

Rattles made from gourds, seeds, feathers and a donkey’s jawbone

toy or instrument may have small parts – such as beads that might break off – so keep that in mind. I also encourage parents and teachers to play with their child musically, then keep the instruments in a special place. This usually keeps things from breaking and keeps smaller children safe from choking hazards.

WHAT ABOUT FAIR TRADE?

When you go to work, don’t you want to be paid a fair or a great wage? Would you like to work all day then receive .24 for your labor? Heck, no!

I am a huge fan of fair trade.  Having lived in many third world countries I’ve seen awful working and living conditions and am thrilled to see many companies now that only offer fair trade products. I heartily encourage you to make that choice, whenever possible.

TEN THOUSAND VILLAGES

zamponas front and backTen Thousand Villages began as a fair trade endeavor, started by a Mennonite woman in the 1950’s. It’s now blossomed to a company with many retail stores across the USA and a brisk online business. Although Ten Thousand Villages does not exclusively sell musical instruments, they work with artisans in over 35 countries and have a beautiful selection of instruments from Asia, the Caribbean and Africa. My favorite items from their store are their panpipes (pictured here), kalimbas, African percussion, handbells, small gongs and beautiful singing bowls.

You can find their online store and list of locations, here: https://www.tenthousandvillages.com/

JAMTOWN

Exclusively a music retailer and wholesaler, Jam Town is based in Seattle and mini shekere for storeoffers a wide variety of hand drums, box drums (cajón) as well as diverse hand percussion. What they offer varies so stop by their online site and see what is available or locate a store that offers their products near by.
Although their customer service really could use improvement, I wholeheartedly recommend the quality and sourcing of their instruments. Buying from Jam Town means offering meaningful support to an artisan in a third world country where few opportunities exist. Plus, their website has a great clearance page, too.

https://jamtownlive.com/

The Didj Shop

Although not certified fair trade, this online store and website promotes all didg by treeIndigenous Aboriginal artists and their creations. The website is filled with great info from various Aboriginal cultures. The website is set up so it allows a person who wishes to buy a didgeridoo, the chance to hear it as an mp3 and often see an image and profile of the artisan who created it.
https://www.didjshop.com

The Didgeridoo Store

Although not certified fair trade, this store has some great low-priced didgeridoos and sells packages where a beginner can get a didg plus an instruction video.  They also sell Australian clapsticks that are beautifully decorated and other percussion items such as Indian ankle bells.  You can see those here: https://www.didgeridoo.store/percussion

ChapchasBOLIVIA MALL

This is a store that’s not certified fair trade, but they have been very helpful to me.  I’ve purchased large drums, panpipes, tinya drums and goat toe nail rattles from them. Their customer service is outstanding and it is my hope that they have the same care for the artisans who create their instruments.

https://www.boliviamall.com/en/musical-instruments.html
puili sticks on a leafHAWAIIAN INSTRUMENTS

Here’s an excellent site for learning about Hawaiian, Hula and South Pacific instruments. You can buy many of the basics such as these pu’ili rhythm sticks in their shop, here:  https://www.nakaniohula.com/

Is That Everything?

No way!  I’ll keep adding to this article but I encourage you to subscribe to this blog to see what’s new. And let me know if there’s a shop or a vendor you’ve found that create beautiful instruments. I’d love to list them here or even do a special post on what they do.

Wishing you a happy, musical day!

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Seashell Trumpets Around The World

Nagak Seashell trumpet from KoreaDid you know a seashell can be a musical instrument?

Years ago, I saw a picture of a conch shell used as a trumpet in an ancient Aztec drawing. As I’ve visited other counties, I’ve discovered that large shells have been used in many different ways in ancient and modern times, all over the world.

Here are just a few of the world music traditions that use sea shells as natural trumpets and horns.

MEXICO

In Aztec culture, the shell trumpet was very symbolic and often associated with the breath of life as well as the rhythms of the sea. Similarly, it was associated aztec conch trumpetwith the call to prayer, marking time during the day and night, rhythms of the moon, fertility and with Ehécatl – the Aztec God of the Wind.

Here is the first picture that piqued my curiosity. It is a musician called a “quiquizoani” playing the conch trumpet. Researchers found 7 different types of conch shell trumpets played in the ancient Aztec culture of Mexico. They also discovered that conch shell trumpets were used by the Aztec military in a manner similar to modern day bugles.

One of the best sites for information on Aztec instruments, including great pictures from important archeological sites is Mexicolore.com. You can find Mexico Lore’s conch shell page here: 
http://www.mexicolore.co.uk/aztecs/music/conch-trumpet

KOREA

A nagak is a large elegant seashell used as a trumpet, mainly in military parades. You can see it above in a photo of a procession at the royal place in Seoul, Korea. Also called the na, sora or godong, it is made from the shell of a sea snail that is sometimes called Triton’s Trumpet.

JAPAN

horagaiIn Japan, large conch shells called Horagai (法螺貝) (or jinkai (陣貝) have been used as trumpets for many centuries. Special schools still teach students to play the traditional music associated with the conch.

In ancient times, conch trumpets were used by certain sects of Buddhist monks to signal their movements across mountains or to accompany religious chanting. Unlike shell trumpets from other parts of the world, Japanese shell trumpets are fitted with mouthpieces of bamboo or bronze that allow them to create several different notes rather than just one single trumpet blast. Samurai used the war shell; known as the jinkai, as a communication device during battles. Playing different combination of notes would signal warriors to attack, withdraw, or change strategies during battle. Here is an example of the Japanese shell trumpet where you can hear the different notes being played:

PUEBLO CULTURE (USA)

Although the location is many days travel from the ocean, conch shell trumpets were found in the burial chambers of recently discovered (Native American) Pueblo ruins in New Mexico. You can read about what else was discovered there, here: https://makingmulticulturalmusic.wordpress.com/2017/02/22/conch-trumpets-flutes-and-turquoise-beads-treasured-items-of-an-ancient-culture/

FLORIDA (USA)

Not to be left out, there is a conch shell trumpet contest every year in the Florida Keys. Adults and kids participate and try to make beautiful music – or at least long sustained blasts – from their own gorgeous shells.

You can check out some of the champion “conch honkers” from the 50th anniversary contest in Key West, here:

What Is Your Country’s National Instrument?

charango full color imageYou probably know that different countries have different languages. And diverse cultures have different holidays and foods. But did you know that almost all countries in the world have a national instrument?

What’s A National Instrument?

What is a national instrument?  It can be an instrument discovered or played in a country, like the South African vuvuzela horn.  It can also be a musical instrument that holds cultural and symbolic importance for a state, a nation or a particular race or ethnicity of people.  Some are drums, some are stringed instruments, some are percussion instruments but all hold a special significance to the citizens of that country and represents the unique character of the people it is identified with.

sistrum-posterFor instance, think about a balalaika from Russia or the ukulele from Hawaii. Can a country have more then one national instrument?  Yes, several countries have multiple instruments listed as their national instruments.  For instance, Greece has an ancient national instrument – the lyre, and also a modern one, the bouzouki. Peru has both the Afro-Peruvian cajón (box drum) and the Andean charango, a stringed instrument made from the shell of an armadillo.

Discovering Cultures Through Music

Instruments are a really fun starting point for discovering and learning about world cultures. Perhaps you have relatives or ancestors from another culture. Music is a great starting point for sharing that culture with your kids. Perhaps didgeridooyou’ll travel to another country, here’s a fun way to find out more about what you’ll see and hear in advance. Likewise, if you’re simply exploring the world from the comfort of your couch, finding out about national instruments is a great way to discover the many wonders of the musical world.

Below is a link to the Wikipedia compilation page of national instruments. This is a great source because each countries entry has a clickable link to learn more. Also below are links to free coloring pages and to one kids E-book where you can color your way around the world with unique musical instruments like the sitar from India or goat toe-nail rattles from Bolivia.

What’s your country’s national instrument?  Did you already know it? I’d love to hear from you about this!

Links and Resources

Wikipedia’s List of National Instruments  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_national_instruments_%28music%29

Australia – What Is A Didgeridoo https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/What-is-a-Didgeridoo-2816257

Ancient Egypt – Color A Sistrumhttps://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Color-An-Ancient-Egyptian-Rattle-The-Sistrum-2166721

young boy and vuvuzelaSouth Africa
 – Make Your Own Vuvuzela Stadium Horn 
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/The-Vuvuzela-Make-Play-Your-Own-South-African-Stadium-Horn-1242716

Russia
 -Balalaika –Poster and Coloring Page
 https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Balalaika-Mini-Poster-and-Coloring-Page-917136

Hawaii
 – Ukulele Poster and Coloring Page 
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/The-Ukulele-A-Stringed-Instrument-from-Hawaii-Mini-Poster-and-Coloring-Page-1095283

Peru – Make Your Own Cajón - https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/The-Cajon-Make-And-Play-Your-Own-Box-Drum-1236616

Peru – Charango – Poster and Coloring Page 
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/The-Charango-An-Instrument-from-South-America-Mini-Poster-and-Coloring-Page-613417

Argentina and Brazil – Guitar Coloring Page https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Guitar-Coloring-Page-649967

Let’s Color A World Of Music – 12 Instrument E-Book https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/LETS-COLOR-A-WORLD-OF-MUSIC-1253263

Using Multicultural Music to Bond with Your Toddler

A Guest Post by Prerna Mallik of “The Mom Writes”

Need a fun and interesting way to spend time with your always on-the-move toddler? Check out multicultural music CDs and videos. These song-filled CDs derive inspiration from the variety and richness of cultures around us and are a great way to bond with your preschooler.

Here’s more about them:

What is Multicultural Music?
Multicultural music consists of songs, videos or lyrics that present a variety of different cultures. These can be used as is or maybe adapted to suit our own native culture. You may not realize it but we’ve all been exposed to multicultural music at some point of time or the other. Feliz Navidad is an excellent example of this.

How Can Multicultural Music Help Your Toddler?
Multicultural music is a fantastic way of spending time with your toddler, having fun and learning as well. Music from across the world teaches toddlers that while we may have different colors, languages and homes, we are all one. We feel the same emotions, experience the same challenges and celebrate in pretty much the same way.

Multicultural music opens up a whole new world for a toddler. Literally. Listening to a song can lead to many fun bonding activities. For instance, if you listen to a song from Mexico, you can do the Mexican hat dance, spend time reading about that country and try to make some hot chocolate like in the popular song “Bate Bate Chocolate”. If you like songs like “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” from Africa, you can make a great preschool craft – a sticker shekere (http://makingmulticulturalmusic.wordpress.com/2011/07/30/make-a-sticker-shekere/ ) that is just as much fun as the real instrument from Africa. And you and your young child can play along to your favorite songs.

Doesn’t that sound like a whole lot of fun!

Another great way to use multicultural music is to pick a country each month and then, listen to the songs from that part of the world. For instance, you can pick Latin America and listen to a variety of songs in Spanish and other languages found in Latin America. You can find a lot of fun, free songs online. Three great websites are DARIA’s World Music for Kids (www.dariamusic.com), Mama Lisa’s World (www.mamalisa.com/world/) and Kiddiddles (www.kididdles.com/) .

World music is a fantastic way of inspiring interests in geography, history and cultural studies. Pop in a CD on your way to the school or on a road trip and you’ll have preschoolers singing in a variety of languages before you know it!

Have you listened to multicultural music with your toddler?

Prerna Malik is a mom, a home manager and a web content expert. Join her at The Mom Writes where she talks about parenting toddlers, living green and simple, and being in the business of writing. Find her at www.themomwrites.com