Instruments, Music and Performing


“Songs facilitate emotional bonding and even physical interactions such as marching or dancing together and thus may help cement ties that underlie the formation of societies.” – Scientific American Mind

The class, since I have been with them and even before, has been interested in music. Someone will belt out, “Yellow Submarine” at any given moment and before you know it, the whole class is marching around, singing, and playing imaginary guitars. They also love to hear, “Flight of the Bumblee”, which is often chosen as a song to listen to during clean up. Last week, they started to discuss various instruments they thought they heard. I played similar orchestral numbers, and they used loose parts to create the instruments they thought they heard.

This week, our Atelierista helped set up the studio to scaffold this interest. She projected four different performances, each a different musical genre. She had a variety of loose parts, and four chairs to sit at. First, we listened to the Boston Symphony Orchestra: Beethoven Symphony 7 (1989)

A: I want to be a conductor.

O: I am a conductor, stick in hand.

A: Is this a violin? (holding stick over loom)

AN: This is my violin. (mirroring A)

A: What is that he is holding? (the conductor) I am not a conductor.

T: I have a long long long….(watches video)….long long trumpet in the sky!

A: I am a conductor.

During most of this video, they marched around with some sort of materials sticking in the air. They seemed most drawn to the conductor.

Next, we watched the Wynton Marsalis Quintet + Sachal Jazz Ensemble (traditional jazz instruments and pakistani instruments together). This time, A and O put various objects including tubes and sticks up to their mouth.

T: I’m playing the trumpet, it’s up here.

A: (Makes noise through tube).

T to O: I saw music with you at the festival.

O to T: And now we watch music at school!

O: I am the conductor.

T: I am the singer.

T: I am a trumpeteer.

O: I play the saxophone.

The next video we played was Talking Heads: Burning Down the House. They noticed the guitars right away, an instrument they are most accustomed to. Each child grabbed a loom, and strummed or plucked the string while marching around the room. 

O: This is my guitar.

T: This is my guitar, this is the neck of the guitar.

Last but not least, the last song was Ringo Starr performing Yellow Submarine.  Their faces lit up when they heard it start, and the energy in the room instantly skyrocketed.

T: It’s Yellow Submarine!

When the song ended, O and A clapped. O asked, “What is this going to be?

K, our Atelierista, recapped the four videos we saw. She asked about specific instruments, such as the Sitar.

A: I think it’s a guitar.

O: Trumpet! Actually, I don’t know that is the Sitar. It is the Sitar, K.

K asks about the flute – saying she isn’t sure what kind of flute it is.

O: Maybe it is a hand flute.

A: (about his loom) This is my Bitar not mu guitar.

O: (about his stick) This is my flute guitar.

A climbs onto a tree stump and says, “I’m on the stage and you can see me on the stage.”

K grabs more stage pieces and each child climbs onto one.

A: That guy has a microphone.

O: Because the stage is…because…people singing so he needs the microphone.

I wonder if we bring these loose parts into the classroom if they will continue to use them as the new instruments they were introduced to. We played some of the songs in the class when we finished with lunch, and they recognized them and enjoyed hearing them again, even without the accompanying videos. I wonder how else we can explore new instruments and sound-making materials. I would like to move some stage pieces to our classroom, to see if performing is an important part of their exploration or not. 


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