As children come to learn more and more about how music is put together, they will begin to have new ears to hear any music. They add critical thinking skills to their musical experiences and will enjoy many kinds of music. They also come to understand and love music as they have hands on experiences creating their own music. They can have that experience through private lessons or by just doing some of the fun lessons that I will share.

The lessons will center on the Elements of Music: Beat, Rhythm, Style, Melody, Expression, Form, Timbre, Harmony, and Texture. You can watch as children become confidant at discussing these elements and hearing them in the music they listen to each day. They will enjoy using these elements to create their own music.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

RHYTHM LESSON 5 - The Rhythm Band

Usually when we think "music" we think melodies, but percussion instruments have no melody.  Percussion pieces are made up of rhythms.  Now that the children know a bit about rhythm and
can read our rhythm icons, they are ready to be a Rhythm Band.

In order to be a Rhythm Band, you need a simple assortment of Rhythm Instruments.  If you are home schooling you probably don't have these on hand and probably there is no reason in the world to purchase them.

One of the really fun units I did with 3rd graders at my elementary school combined their science unit on sound with my rhythm unit in music.  As they studied how sound is made, they created their own instruments.  Then they brought their instruments to the music room and we became a rhythm band.  So let's look at creating some instruments.

Percussion instruments are basically in 3 categories:  Instruments you tap, shake, or scrape.  Within those 3 categories you can create different sounds by using different materials.  I suggest the following:


Drums can really be made from just about anything that has the shape of a drum. I like to make a drum from an empty oatmeal box. Cover your oatmeal drum with construction paper, or paint it if you prefer. Decorate with other craft materials by drawing or gluing things onto the drum. I have made these for my nursery kids at church and in my final step gave them a couple of layers of decoupage glue (Mod Podge).  This gives the drum a layer of protection and a little more resonance.  If you don't want to make the drums you can always use plastic Tupperware-type bowls. I know that some people think of pots and pans as drums but they make more of a bell or cymbal sound so I wouldn't categorize them as a drum. I would prefer you look for objects around the house that sound like a drum. Depending on your choice of materials you could either play your drums with your hands (like a bongo or conga drum) or use wooden spoons (like a snare drum).

Check this website for instructions for making your own bongo drums:  http://www.makingmusicmag.com/features/make-your-own-percussion.html
Rhythm Sticks
You can beat two wooden spoons together for this one. You can also buy wooden dowels very cheaply at home improvement stores or craft stores. Just beat them together in time with the beat of the music.  Here is another idea that looks really fun to do:   http://siayla.blogspot.com/2009/03/abiyoyo-story-and-rythum-sticks.html

Wood Blocks
Wood Blocks can be make of just a scrap of wood.  If you can get a piece of hardwood you will get more resonance.  Tap it with a dowel or wooden spoon

Cut a small rectangular piece of thick cardboard for each castanet. Then glue a small piece of wood (1 ½" or more in diameter) onto each end of the cardboard. Next, fold the piece of cardboard in half so there will be a piece of wood on each end. The child can then click the two sides together to make rhythmic music.  Or try this idea:  http://www.makingfriends.com/music/castanets.htm

Finger Cymbals
Use small jar lids to make these.  http://familycrafts.about.com/od/jarlidcrafts/a/jarlidmusic.htm

The best thing to use for cymbals is two metal pie pans. Simply have your child strike the two pans together when it seems to fit best in the music. These larger cymbals are


Egg Shakers
You know those bright-colored plastic eggs we use at Easter every year? Keep a few out of your stash and fill them with rice, dried beans, or elbow macaroni. Be sure to securely tape up the eggs so they won't pop open while your child is shaking away. You can fill other containers with rice or beans also. Try old spice containers or little jars with lids, like baby food jars or other small jars.  The sound will vary with the size and materials of the containers.  Have fun experimenting! 

You have probably made paper plate tambourines by filling putting bells or beans inside the plates and stapling them together.  Here are some instructions that I really like because there are no staples on this homemade version, nor anything loosely placed inside that can come out and make a mess.  The bells are tied to the paper plates.  I would suggest using chinet plates and decorating them before assembly and even coating with Mod Podge to make them last.   Check this website:  http://www.ehow.com/how_10022723_make-childrens-tambourines.html

Pick up a little bag of the jingle bells from your local craft store. Different size bells make different sounds so you might like to experiment with sizes.  String them with a strong string that will not break.  My preference for playing jingle bells is for the children to hold them in their hands and with a snap of the wrist play the bells to get a good sound that is "on the beat".


Sandpaper Blocks
Get some sandpaper and cut it to fit two wooden blocks. Glue the sandpaper to the blocks. The kind we use at school have the sandpaper wrapped around the blocks and stapled to the wood so that it can be replaced when it wears out.  I would also get a medium grit paper.  If the grit is too small you won't get much of a sound.  The child can scrape these together in rhythm to the music.

The guiro is a Latin instrument made of  wood with definite grooves in the wood.  It is played by scraping it with a stick.  You can make one with those plastic water bottles that have ridges along the sides.  A dowel or chopstick makes a good stick for scraping it. You can decorate the plastic bottle with permanent markers - but I wouldn't turn any young child loose with a permanent marker so this is a job for an adult.    Check this website:


Tomorrow I will add some great music links and rhythms so you can play your instruments and become a great rhythm band!!

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