Our recent music month included some good crafting time and more play with rhythm and tone. Even if you are not very musical, a little bravery is probably all you need. Our music time was expanded by the “play” we incorporated with our new instruments.
Shakers and Drums
We made shakers out of juice boxes filled with rice (grains are good for something after all!). Mine were not that pretty, but clear vitamin bottles filled with beads would be, or stacking cylindrical bead cases, or plastic water bottles, or you can glue together the halves of a mature coconut to make a natural shaker. If your containers are clear you can fill them with glitter and beads, metallic ribbon pieces or colourful beans to create interest. The most fun part of having shakers was using them to sing the same songs over and over again, to build a “rain storm” of sound, to pretend to be rattle snakes and to dance with one in each hand to rhythmic songs.
On the week that we did drums, I started with tuna cans. We worked up through small and large plastic yogurt containers, metal mixing bowls and plastic pails. We drummed with chopsticks, table spoons, wooden spoons, plastic spatulas and our hands. We talked about what made low sounds, musical sounds. I named animals and they chose how they would make a sound for that animal (a mouse running, a woodpecker pecking, an elephant wandering, etc.). On one day we just used our bodies and our hands to make different rhythmic sounds. When the circle time was over I turned the music up and they added rhythm to whatever came on my playlist.
Cardboard Cutout Guitars
I cut out large cardboard guitar shapes, then used applesauce containers, popsicle sticks and some elastic bands to create guitars. We had fun painting personal designs on the front of them on the first day, then strung them the next… then re-strung them, then re-strung them again, then I figured out the popsicle sticks on the back and solved all our problems. Small elastics are best (green onions, not broccoli); they create a much more pleasant sound and they won’t pull the guitar out of shape. The blue and pink ones pictured here are too thick.
They dressed up as “princess rock stars” (their idea) and rocked out.
This one was a quiet activity. I added the food colouring to the glasses first, then invited everyone to the table. We started with only one colour each, then slowly added more as we talked about why the sounds were higher or lower. The wine glasses were very pretty, but tall water glasses would provide more variation in tone. We played with chopsticks. We sang a bit, but the girls primarily loved taking turns doing little performances of original numbers for each other.
Before we finished, we dumped our water into a collective glass bowl to see what colours we could make.
Of course music month also included our usual music time and stories that centred around musical themes. A visit to your local library can produce an armful of books that have themes about instruments, fun music for children and cultural music. If you’re not brave enough to sing parts of stories that are meant to be, look for audio recordings in the library as well.