Anyone 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!
Cinco 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!
Professional 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!
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!
The 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!
This is another creative project for discovering rhythms or developing fine motor skills. Castanets 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!)
Music is such a wonderful way to promote learning languages and bilingualism. If you’re celebrating Earth Day, here’s a fun way of combining caring for our planet with expanding your language skills in Spanish.
The song is based on my earth Day anthem heard all over the world, and if you haven’t heard it yet, check out the official video below (in English) and hear it yourself. We’re working on Spanish and other language video versions now. now!
Tenemos Todo El Mundo En Nuestras Manos
(New version of lyrics in English) Daria Marmaluk-Hajioannou (Spanish translation) Cecelia Fencer
Tenemos todo el mundo en nuestras manos. (chorus – sung four times)
Debemos reciclar, ahora que podemos.
Reducir, reusar y reciclar
Reducir y reciclar ahora que podemos.
Tenemos al mundo en nuestras manos.
Tenemos plantas y animales en nuestra tierra,
plantas y animales en nuestra tierra.
Tenemos plantas y animales en nuestra tierra.
Tenemos al mundo en nuestras manos.
Tomemonos de las manos, como hermanos.
Tomemonos de las manos como hermanos.
Tomemonos de las manos como hermanos,
tenemos al mundo en nuestras manos
Encuentra tus sueños y haz lo que puedas,
ten tus anhelos y lucha por ellos.
Encuentra tus sueños y haz lo que puedas,
tenemos al mundo en nuestras manos.
Tenemos todo el mundo en nuestras manos. (chorus – sung four times)
Did you now that March is Music In Our Schoolsmonth? 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?
If 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
Actual 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
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 listen 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.
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).
Lots of young children and those of us who are kids at heart have fallen in love with the latest Disney animated film set in the Pacific Islands, called Moana. If you haven’t seen it yet; I promise, no spoilers here!
While enjoying the film, music-lovers will notice a unique drum makes a brief appearance and helps our young heroine discover an important aspect of the history of her people. To most Westerns eyes, this sideways, longer wooden drum may look a bit unusual. Were you wondering what it was? Although we don’t get a good look at it, it’s most likely inspired by the slit drums or a log drums found throughout the Pacific Islands.
The drum pictured above is very similar to the one seen in the movie. Made in Papau, New Guinea, this elaborately carved slit drum is placed on two wooden rests and played by striking the top (open) area. Unpainted and left it’s natural color, the inner carved area is rubbed with white lime, making the beautiful traditional designs stand out. You’ll notice lots of similarities between the artwork and the tattoos in the movie and the carvings seen on the drum here!
Although you can’t walk into a museum and see this drum first-hand, you can check out it’s complete information page on the Brooklyn Museum website, where it is part of an “Arts of the Pacific Islands.” You can also check out the link below that shares another similar drum from Tokelau, three islands that are north of New Zealand and East of Australia. The Wikipedia page on the music of Tokelau has some very helpful background about this drum as part of communal singing and dancing rites and rituals, used to not only bring the people of the island together but to preserve and share ancestral history, just like we see in this latest movie about a strong young woman finding her way and saving her people!
Intrigued by this type of drum and want to share it with your child? There are definitely kid size slit drums; like the one pictured here, that any child can use to rock their world!
In 2017, the Chinese Lunar New Year begins on January 28th and we welcome in the year of the fire rooster!
Over the past years, we’ve shared some of our favorite music crafts that are easy to make for all ages and use recycled and “on-hand” materials. This year we decided to do share our 3 most popular music crafts as well as share our favorite Chinese New Year Pinterest Board, so you can explore a world of great crafts, foods, books, games and activities and related Chinese New Year Kids activities.
So bang a gong, make a paper lantern,color a New Years greeting and celebrate a beautiful Chinese Lunar New Year!
A World Of Great Crafts And Activities – Via Pinterest!
I’m proud to be part of the Multicultural Kid Bloggers networks who hosts a Chinese New Year Pinterest board. Visit here for an ever-expanding collection of great crafts, activities, coloring pages, books, foods and more. Some of our favorite are the pretty paper lantern craft, fortune cookie activity, the Chinese zodiac matching cards and … so … much … more!
Many years ago, I wrote a little song about the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech. I had always been a big fan of MLK’s speeches and writing and I wanted to create an easy-to-sing song that would take these big ideas and make them “singable” for kids. Little did I know that the songs would soon become of the most popular classrooms songs for sharing the life and legacy of MLK across the country.
If you haven’t heard the song already, you can see the Youtube video, here:
Have you read out enthusiastic review of our new favorite kid’s international songbook?
Well, we’re excited to say that – thanks to Mama Lisa’s World - we are giving away 2 digital copies of this amazing encyclopedia of 100 songs from diverse world cultures. That’s 352 awesome pages of songs, song descriptions, translations, sheet music and even details of how certain songs are used as games and activities.
This 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 also 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.
Many new parents – or tired parents – opt to stay home on New Year’s Eve and ring in the New Year with the kids! Even if you won’t stay up until midnight – you definitely need some fun noise-makers to mark the coming of a new year!
Here is a new New Year’s Eve project – big bottle shakers – as well as a list of favorite noise-making crafts from the past few years. Monkey drums and vuvuzelas, anyone?
Oh yes, and a very happy new year to all!
Big Bottle Shakers For New Year’s Eve!
Kids like to make lots of noise and these big rattles are perfect for safe and easy noise-makers. Start with a large recycled bottle (with a lid or cap) that’s clean and dry. Gallon milk jug containers and liter soft drink bottles work well for this craft.
Step One is to fill with whatever you have on hand. For louder rattles, add items like extra jingle bells, buttons, pebbles, dried macaroni or paper clips. For quieter rattles, add things like birdseed, sand, salt or sugar. Before you close the cap and seal the rattle, consider adding a bit of bling. Maybe some glitter that you have on-hand or some MYO confetti? (BTW, Our next post is MYO confetti – it’s messy but super simple!).
Step Two. Once you’ve filled your bottle with things that jingle and jangle, close the lid and seal with a sturdy tape, such as colorful electrical tape. This keeps the contents inside and makes the project more child safe.
Lastly; if you like, you can decorate the outside. You can add stickers, colorful tape or draw with permanent markers. You can also adorn the handle with streams of ribbon or yarn. This is a great way to recycle extra holiday wrapping and put it to a good use!
What else can you make? Check out these favorite posts from New Year’s Eves past.