Instruments From Ancient Mexico – The Conch Shell Trumpet

conch shell trumpetA conch shell is a beautiful thing.

But who would guess that cultures all around the world would not only admire it’s beauty but also figure out that – with a few minor modifications – it becomes a completely functional, natural trumpet!  Among others, there are conch trumpets heard in music from the South Pacific, Tibet, Korea and pre-Incan cultures.  Archeological finds and older documents also place it in Aztec culture and ceremonies as well.  Here’s a bit more about the Aztec conch shell trumpet.

aztec conch trumpetPictured here is a musician called a “quiquizoani” playing the conch shell.  The name is in the Nahuatl Indigenous language of Mexico and this specific image can be found on page 23 of the Aztec Codex “Magliabecchi”, currently preserved and archived at the University of Utah in the United States.

One of the best sites for information on Aztec instruments, including great pictures from archeological sites and historical references is Mexicolore.com (see resources below).  Their research shows that there were 7 different types of conch shells and that the largest was called the ‘quiquiztli’.  As you might imagine, the shell trumpet was highly symbolic and associated with the breath of life as well as the rhythms of the sea.  Similarly, it was associated with the call to prayer, marking time during the day and during the night, the moon, fertility and Ehécatl – the Aztec God of the Wind.

Research also shows that conch shell trumpets were used by the Aztec military in a manner similar to modern day bugles.

Conch Shells in The USA

Closer to home, conch shells are part of a unique contest in the Florida Keys.  Although the tradition of blowing the conch trumpet dates back over 200 years, it was originally used mainly for maritime signaling. Recently, however, the contest is a lot more colorful with contestants that vary in age from 3 – 83 and even perform with unique outfits, hula hoops and other novelty approaches.

Want to find out more about this modern conch contest?  Check out the link below for some amazing variations on this ancient musical theme

What Does A Conch Trumpet Sound Like?

Check out this short video where a young buy demonstrates how to cut the conch shell and how to practice getting the trumpet sound.

http://multikidsmusicvids.com/?p=1002

Resources

MexicoLore’s Conch Shell Page
http://www.mexicolore.co.uk/aztecs/music/conch-trumpet

Florida Keys Newsroom – Info On The Annual Conch Shell Blowing Contest
http://media.fla-keys.com/section_display.cfm?section_id=295

Learn a Chinese New Year Song!

Chinese New year ImageIn 2014, January 31st marks the first day of the Chinese New Year and we welcome in the year of the horse.

The Chinese New Year is a feast for all the senses! It brings delicious foods, parades, firecrackers, red envelopes and family gatherings.  And, of course, the popular song: Gong Xi Gong Xi.

Lyrics to this song are simple and easy to learn.  Here is a version in pinyin and English as well as two video versions to help you sing or share this song with children at this exciting time of year.

Gong Xi Gong Xi

Měi tiáo dà jiē xiǎo xiàng (Every big street little alley)

Měi gè rén de zuǐ lǐ (In everyone’s mouth)

Jiàn miàn dì yī jù huà (The first sentence (we) say when (we) see each other)

Jiù shì gong xǐ gong xǐ (Must be” “Congratulations! Congratulations!”)

Gōng xǐ, gong xǐ, gong xǐ nǐ ya, (Congratulations! Congratulations! Congratulations to you!)

Gong xǐ, gong xǐ, gong xǐ nǐ (Congratulations! Congratulations! Congratulations to you!)

Videos

Ni Hao Kai Lan Gong Xi Gong Xi

 

What Can An Erhu Do?

Erhu - Color ImageAlthough you might not recognize the name “erhu”(二胡; pinyin: èrhú, [êɻxǔ]), you would immediately know it’s distinctive sound.  One of a family of stringed, bowed instruments from China, the erhu is sometimes called a Chinese fiddle, a 2 stringed violin, a southern or spike fiddle and it’s origins date back at least a thousand years ago to when it was brought to China by the Xi people of Central Asia.

From these humble beginning, the versatile and evocative sound of the erhu has won it a major place in Chinese orchestras, as well as a starring role in modern musical ensembles  including, jazz, pop and even rock groups.

How Is The Erhu Made?

The erhu is an unusual instrument in many ways.  It consists of a small sounding box made of a hard wood, such as sandlewood, that was traditionally covered with snake or python skin.  Some musicians and orchestras; such as the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra, have recently sought out more ecologically-friendly versions and developed a series of erhu and related instruments that are made from a polyester membrane instead of snakeskin.

The bow used for an erhu was originally made of a bamboo stick strung with horsehair.

Is It A Violin?

Although the sound of the erhu is similar to the Western violin in many ways, there are several striking differences.  First, the erhu has two strings and the violin has four.  Next, the erhu is played on the lap of the musician while the violin rests between the shoulder and chin of its player.  Also, on the erhu the strings are pressed but do not touch the fingerboard and the bow does not leave the strings.  On the violin, fingers touch the fretboard to create different notes and the bow will move on and off the strings while it is being played.

If you take a look at the video below from Danwei TV, you’ll be able to see many of the unique qualities of this beautiful traditional instrument from China.

If you’d like to print out a version of the erhu coloring page seen above, you can visit the links below.

Playing The Erhu

One musician comments on playing the instrument and performs a popular folk song called “Running River” on the erhu.

Resources

B+W coloring page of the erhu from DARIA’s world music for children site:

http://www.dariamusic.com/docs/Erhu%20BW%20Coloring%20Page.pdf

Free Coloring Pages of World Music Instruments from DARIA:

http://www.dariamusic.com/crafts.php

Color poster of erhu plus b+w coloring page from TeachersPayTeachers:http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/The-Erhu-Chinese-Violin-Instruments-From-Around-The-World-1037355

“Gong Xi! Gong Xi!” – The Excitement of Chinese New Year

In 2014, Chinese New Year celebrations begin on January 31st and we welcome in the Year of the Horse.  We’re republished this popular post by writer and teacher, Amanda “Miss Panda” Hsiung-Blodgett, who shares her New Year experiences, memories, photos and songs with us. 

“Gong Xi!  Gong Xi!” – The Excitement of Chinese New Year

The fragrance of Mom’s special stew and the “Ten Vegetarian Delights” fills the kitchen just before Chinese New Year arrives. That’s the first memory that floods into my mind each time someone asks me about the Chinese New Year celebration. In my opinion it’s the best of all Chinese festivals and has been my favorite since I was a little girl.

Growing up with Chinese New Year
Links of sausage, strips of bacon, and cured fish hung to dry on bamboo rods (back then the equivalent of clothes lines in the West) in almost every yard. We would run around with friends from one yard to another to check out how soon these goodies would be ready to eat. The smell of all the cured meat was another one of the indicators to me that Chinese New Year was just around the corner. Vendors with all kinds of Chinese New Year decorations, such as large gold-nugget-shaped candy containers, cut-paper artwork, and spring scrolls with lucky words are everywhere in the open market and in the stores. For a small fee professional calligraphers will even write your spring scrolls for you with their big Chinese calligraphy brushes. Big and small rolls of firecrackers are being sold and traditional Chinese New Year music fills the air of the open market as you walk through the crowd.

The Fifteen Days of the Chinese New Year Celebration:

Preparations kick off – The preparations for Chinese New Year start on the 23rd day of the last month on the Chinese lunar calendar. On this day, the tradition is to send the “kitchen god” (the protector of the family and the most important of Chinese domestic gods in Chinese mythology) back to the sky to report to the Jade Emperor (the supreme ruler of all heaven and earth) about how the family has been doing the whole year. The portrait of the kitchen god is posted on the wall in the kitchen. Families might spread melted sweets on the mouth of the kitchen god’s picture so that he would go and say only sweet and good things about the family.

Out with the Old and In with the New – The next few days see a major cleaning of the house. All clutter should be removed, the house dusted from ceiling to floor and the bedding in each room thoroughly washed. “Chu jiu bu xin” (remove the old and decorate the new) is the concept behind this major clean up. We are also welcoming the new year by posting lucky, red paper spring scrolls on the front door. Phrases or words like “xin nian kaui le” (Happy New Year); “gong xi fa cai” (congratulations and prosperity) and “ fu” (good fortune) and “chun” (spring) can be been seen on doors everywhere.

The Chinese New Year’s Eve Family Feast – Chinese New Year’s eve dinner marks the beginning of the Chinese New Year celebration. This is a family reunion feast bringing together grandparents, or even great grandparents, down to newborn babies. It is a celebration of the togetherness of the family. It is very important to have the Chinese New Year’s eve dinner with the family. People make every effort to be back in their hometown as soon as the festival holidays begin. For those who cannot make it for the dinner because of work or being overseas, parents will prepare a seat and set up everything for him or her to represent the reunion of every member of the family.

My mother always prepares ten dishes for the New Year Eve’s dinner and every dish is a special treat. Fish is a must-have dish. The word for fish in Mandarin Chinese is “yu” and it has the same sound as the Chinese word for “remaining” or “surplus.“ We never finish the fish dish because we want to save one big piece of the fish to symbolize a surplus of wealth and all things good in the new year. The Chinese New Year saying that goes with this practice is “nian nian you yu” – “every year (we) have leftover/surplus (wealth).”

Red Envelopes – Hong bao – 紅包
After the family meal, it is time to say lucky words to grandparents and parents and it is time for the Red Envelope. In my family we use the traditional Chinese style, we kneel down in front of Mom and Dad, and bow to say auspicious phrases like:
Xīn nián kuài lè     新年快樂        Happy New Year
Shēn tǐ jiàn kāng    身體健康         Good health
Wàn shì rú yì         萬事如意         May everything go as you wish
Gong xǐ fā cái         恭喜發財         Congratulations and prosperity
Then Mom and Dad give each of us a red envelope with cash in it. Instead of spending the cash right away the tradition is to put the red envelope under your pillow and so that it will keep you young and healthy. When the children are grown up and independent then it becomes their turn to give red envelopes to their parents. I remember how proud I was when I gave my parents red envelopes when I first started working.

Taboos
For the first few days of the new year, some families do not use knives or scissors in order to lessen the risk for cuts and accidents, which would signify bad luck for the year. Some families do not sweep the floor to avoid symbolically sweeping away their wealth. If something is broken like a glass or a bowl you will hear people immediately say “sui sui ping an”, which means every year is safe and peaceful.  Why?  It is a play on words, as the Chinese word for “broken” has the same sound of the word “year”. The rule of the thumb during this time is to say good and sweet things in order to bring on a good and sweet year.

Firecracker Fun
On the New Year’s Eve families stay up late to enjoy family time and catch up with the visiting brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and cousins. The most exciting time of the evening for me was when we set off firecrackers. There are all kinds of firecrackers, some spin, some fly, some hop, some shoot high and some have beautiful showers of sparks with a huge explosion at the end. We play hard and stay up past midnight. The tradition of staying up late on New Year’s Eve is good luck and is said to give parents long life!  At midnight we set off the long strings of firecrackers to welcome in the new year!

The 15th day of the Chinese New Year – Lantern Festival
Lantern festival marks the completion and the end of the Chinese New Year celebration.  On this day, children carry lanterns around in the park or in the neighborhood. When I was a little girl my brother and other neighborhood boys would help me make a lantern out of a tin milk can. We used nail and hammer to poke holes on the bottom of the tin can and then placed a candle inside. An iron wire will be attached to the top to make a handle and then a wooden stick will be attached to the wire to carry the lantern. The older boys would use bamboo sticks to make torches. As soon as it got dark, you would see the torches and lanterns everywhere. Now, we don’t see torches or tin lanterns anymore. Instead, you see beautifully designed paper lanterns with battery-operated lights for children. It is always a fascinating scene when you walk in the park and see hundreds of children carrying their flashing lanterns around.

Music
Music is an important part of the Chinese New Year just like Christmas carols are an important part of that celebration in the West. We hear traditional New Year’s tunes on the radio, on TV, on the street, in the stores and in the markets. The one you will hear over and over again is the “Gong Xi, Gong Xi” song. It is a fun and easy one. Below is a short version of it for you in pinyin along with the English translation. You can listen to it here. I hope you enjoy it.

Měi tiáo dà jiē xiǎo xiàng (Every big street little alley)
Měi gè rén de zuǐ lǐ (In everyone’s mouth)
Jiàn miàn dì yī jù huà (The first sentence (we) say when (we) see each other)
Jiù shì gong xǐ gong xǐ (Must be” “Congratulations! Congratulations!”)
Gōng xǐ, gong xǐ, gong xǐ nǐ ya, (Congratulations! Congratulations! Congratulations to you!)
Gong xǐ, gong xǐ, gong xǐ nǐ (Congratulations! Congratulations! Congratulations to you!)

Celebrating away from “home”
Now I am far and away from Taiwan where I grew up. What I always do when the Chinese New Year is approaching is call my Mom and ask her what she is doing She tells me she is preparing the “Ten Vegetarian Delights” and that she has started the stew. I tell her that I can smell it already. She chuckles and replies “How is that possible?” Then my Dad takes over and tells me it indeed smells incredible and that he will mail the dish to me by international express carrier to ensure its freshness. We all end up laughing about the idea and sharing the great memories we have for the festival. This is what I love the most about the Chinese New Year – the celebration of the family!

Happy Chinese New Year!  Have a fantastic year of the snake!

About The Author – Amanda “Miss Panda” Hsiung-Blodgett (whose Chinese last name literally means “bear”) is the mother of two young bilingual children and the author of the “Let’s Learn Mandarin Chinese with Miss Panda!” audio CD, a Chinese learning series for young children. She homeschools her children in Mandarin Chinese and is a native Mandarin Chinese speaker who is passionate about teaching and learning – and having fun while doing both!  For more information about “Miss Panda” visit her at on the web at misspandachinese.com, and on Facebook and Twitter.

World Fair Trade Day – A Great Time To Explore Musical Instruments from Around The World

Almost everyone can relate to this.

They’ve had a job for which they were underpaid or underappreciated.  Well, picture that in a third world setting where people have few employment options.  They work in dirty, unsafe conditions with unreasonable work hours and sometimes cannot protest or complain without fear of retribution or brutality.  The recent fires in Bangladesh clothing factories have highlighted how the worst of these unfair practices can create deadly and tragic results.

Is there an alternative?  Especially if people want to purchase special items from other cultures, such as clothing, chocolate, coffee or musical instruments like these beautiful handbells from Nepal?  Yes, there is fair trade!  And May 11th marks World Fair Trade Day, so it’s a good time to learn more about this important topic.  You can check out the 10 principles of fair trade below.

One of my favorite fair trade stores was started by a Mennonite woman in the 1940’s named Edna Ruth Byler.  She knew that if people in third world nations or village settings could do what they loved such as traditional arts and crafts and they were sold at fair prices, then these people could live with dignity and keep vibrant, safe communities alive.  She named her project: “Self-Help Crafts Of The World”.  Over 60 years later, the store is now called Ten Thousand Villages and has numerous physical locations as well as an online store for purchases.

What does Ten Thousand Villages sell?  It has an amazing array of handcrafts, jewelry, coffees, teas, soaps and other items.  And musical instruments.  You can find rainsticks from Chile and colorful folded palm rattles made in India.  They offer delicate tingsha bells and beautiful singing bowls in a variety of shapes and sizes.  There are gourd rattles, kalimbas (pictured here) and drums from Africa, ocarinas and whistles from South America and an ever-changing array of products that have been purchased and certified fair trade.  For most items, you can read the story behind the artisans as well as how and where each object was created.

This year on World Fair Trade Day, I’ll be at my local Ten Thousand Village store sharing the magic of singing bowls – how each one is different and unique and can be used to create beautiful sound as well as for healing purposes.  If you can’t get to one of these stores, feel free to visit them online and consider purchasing some of the wonderful goods that they offer.

Purchasing “fair trade” makes a difference for the planet, not only in the lives of an artisan, but because it makes a statement.  It’s great to know that we can vote with our dollars for a world that treats everyone with dignity and respect!  And if you purchase an instrument “fair trade”, you’re contributing to world harmony – in more ways than one!

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During the month of May 2013, you can win this beautiful rainstick made by a cooperative of artisans in Santiago de Chile.  (2nd give-away on page)

http://www.dariamusic.com/monthly_song.php

Resources And Links

World Fair Trade Organization

http://www.wfto.com/

10 Principles of Fair Trade

http://www.wfto.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2&Itemid=14

Ten Thousand Villages – Home Page

http://www.tenthousandvillages.com/

Musical Instruments From Ten Thousand Villages

http://www.tenthousandvillages.com/products/musical-instruments

Gongs, Handbells and Singing Bowls: Three Great Instruments For Exploring the Culture of China, Tibet, Nepal and Asia

Although the cultures and traditions in these regions are immensely diverse, they do have one thing in common.  About 4,000 years ago, craftspeople in this area of the world discovered how to work with bronze and similar metals.  They began creating useful and decorative objects and soon discovered that the perfect mixture of copper, tin and other available metals created amazing-sounding musical instruments as well.  Through a process of metal-smithing and working with molds, they learned to create gongs, bells, hand cymbals and even bowls that can “sing”.  Some master craftspeople even claim to use secret ingredients that give their creations unusually beautiful or “perfect” tone!

Here are some posts that can help you explore these unique musical instruments and use them as a part of your music-making, meditation (quiet time), cultural studies, homeschool or classroom fun.

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During the month of February 2013, we’re giving away a beautiful set of Tibetan handbells.  You can find that Rafflecopter give-away here:

http://www.dariamusic.com/monthly_song.php

Resources

Free One page download on a Handbell craft

http://www.dariamusic.com/crafts.php

Detailed pdf on Tibetan Handbells, Plus a Make-Your-Own Handbell Craft

From Teachers Pay Teachers

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Explore-Tibetan-Handbells-Plus-a-Make-Your-Own-Handbell-Craft

Make Your Own Tibetan Handbells – Blog Post

http://makingmulticulturalmusic.wordpress.com/2013/02/05/make-your-own-tingsha-handbells/

Make Your Own Chinese Gong Craft

http://www.dariamusic.com/crafts.php

Can A Bowl Really Sing?  Tibetan Singing Bowl Post

http://makingmulticulturalmusic.wordpress.com/2012/02/09/tibetan-singing-bowls-can-a-bowl-really-sing/

Related Resources

“Gong Xi! Gong Xi!” – The Excitement of Chinese New Year

http://makingmulticulturalmusic.wordpress.com/2013/02/02/gong-xi-gong-xi-the-excitement-of-chinese-new-year/

Sing, Play and Speak With Your Children In Chinese !

http://tinytappingtoes.wordpress.com/2013/01/07/sing-play-and-speak-with-your-children-in-chinese/

 

Make Your Own Tingsha Handbells

Most historians believe that about 4,000 years ago, craftspeople in the region around China began experimenting with metal and bronze. Although the region around China, Tibet, Nepal and Southern Asia is quite diverse, these countries share a common history of discovering and creating unique musical instruments made from metal such as gongs, bells, singing bowls and handbells known as tinghsa. Tingsha (also, ting-sha) are two small, rather heavy cymbals that are attached to a rope or piece of rawhide. They are usually about 2.5 to 4 inches in diameter and can be plain or have decorative images on them. Some have symbols such as dragons that are considered lucky or they may have mantras or other words or phrases that are a part of prayer or devotional practices.

Tingsha can be played in two different ways. Either the string is held and the two bells are allowed to strike each other or both cymbals are held and tapped together to make them ring out. Because the sound of tingsha bells is so beautiful and relaxing, they are often heard in the United States as part of

yoga or meditation practices.

MAKE YOUR OWN TINGSHA BELLS

Want to make your own version? Here is an easy project to create your own tingsha bells out of recycled materials.

SUPPLIES

Two matching bottle caps – “Snapple” caps work perfectly

String or yarn

Paint, textured paint or glitter and glue for decorating the handbells.

To make the hole in the bottlecaps:

A piece of wood (as a work area)

Hammer and nail or hammer and awl

Start by creating a hole in the center of each of the bottlecaps. You can do this by putting the bottlecap; outer side up, on a work surface (such as a spare piece of wood) and tapping it gently with a hammer and nail or use a hammer and awl.

Once you’ve created the hole, it’s a good idea to turn the cap over and tap it with a hammer to flatten the sharp edges around the hole. This makes it safer to handle when adding the string.

To decorate your two “cymbals”, you can paint or add textured fabric paint. You can also apply glue and glitter. When you’re done and they are dry, you are ready to string them together.

Thread the strong or yarn through each side and make a knot to hold it into place. Check that you like the length of your tinghsa and adjust the knots accordingly.

Play and have fun!

Ghungroo – Indian Style Ankle Bells

One of the most wonderful things about instruments from around the world is that each is played in it’s own unique way.  Some are plucked, strummed, bowed or tapped. African shekeres can be tossed back and forth or up into the air.  Indian-style jingles or bells are worn on the ankles and create beautiful rhythms as part of several types of traditional dance styles.   If you create a pair, you can use them to explore rhythm and dance in some really creative ways!

Ankle Bells In India

Ankle bells play a special part in Classical Indian dance and in belly dancing.  In Indian dance, there’s a great deal of emphasis on movement of the eyes, the palms of the hands and the feet.  The ankle bells draw special attention to the elegant footwork of the dancers.

Traditional ankle bells are known by various names in different parts of India. In Tamilnadu, they are known as Salangai.  In Kerala, they are called Chilanka.  Sometimes these musical anklets are strings of bells that look like a piece of jewelry.  Sometimes they are fastened to a lovely string or chord. In North India, you can find ankle bells called ghungroo.  Most often, these special ankle bells consist of rows of jingles sewn into place onto leather or cloth pads then buckled or tied securely onto a dancer’s ankle.  Young dancers have smaller anklets with 2 to 4 lines of small bells and adult or professional dancers will often have 4 or even 5 lines of bells.

Ankle Bells For Indian Brides 

Along with dance traditions, ankle bells also play a part of the special clothing and adornment of brides.  According to ancient texts in Sanskrit, women should have 16 different special adornments on their wedding day.  These include ankle bells as well as henna, flowers in the hair, rings, bangles, armlets, wristbands, toe rings, perfume and sandalwood paste.  This photo by Indian blogger, Divya Mohan (used by permission) shows a beautiful set of ankle bells as part of a bride’s amazing and special wedding outfit.

Kids and Ankle Bells

It’s great to allow kids to explore sound through movement by playing with ankle bells.  You can do this while playing music from India or experiment with how ankle bells sound when dancing to your favorite songs or other types of music.   Kids can tap their feet or stomp in time with the music.  They can also march or dance and the bells will create different rhythms that mirror their moves.  Creating sets of ankle bells made with different materials or in different sizes and shapes will also allow kids to experiment with the different sounds they are creating as they dance.

Make Your Own Ankle Bells

Check out this easy set of instructions to make your own version of ghungroo using simple craft supplies.

Make Your Own Ghunghroo Instructions

http://www.dariamusic.com/docs/Ankle%20Bell%20PDf.pdf

Related Links

Pictures From An Indian Wedding.  Blogger, Divya Mohan wrote this post that details many of the beautiful customs and beliefs that are part of a traditional Hindu Indian wedding:

http://divyamohanspeaks.blogspot.in/2011/10/we-believe.html

Want to Explore Indian Arts and Crafts? Try making Henna Hands – an easy version for kids here:

kidworldcitizen.org/2012/06/07/henna-hands-a-simple-craft/

Want to learn more about the beautiful and unusual instruments of India?  Dr. Peyman Nasehpour’s website, shares a variety of  different traditional Indian instruments along with pictures and descriptions:

http://nasehpour.tripod.com/peyman/id29.html

Where To Find – Indian Ankle Bells! Indian ankle bells (from a small family-owned business in India with a positive employment practices) are now available from DARIA’s Little Village store here:

http://dariasvillagestore.storenvy.com/collections/34585-all-products/products/3833353-indian-ankle-bells

Tibetan Singing Bowls – Can A Bowl Really Sing?

One of the most exciting things about exploring instruments from around the globe is how completely unique and different they are.  Shapes, sizes, materials and manner of playing instruments vary from culture to culture or from country to country. One great example of an unusual instrument is a bronze or metal bowl from the region of Tibet, Nepal or Northern India.  Called “singing bowls”, these instruments date back to the dawn of the bronze age – about 3,000 years ago – and are pictured in some of the oldest artifacts found in this region.

But can a bowl really sing?  These specially crafted metal bowls do create beautiful tones when they are struck gently with a mallet or when pressure is applied to their sides in a circular motion.  In the same way that a water glass creates a ringing tone when rubbed with a finger, these bowls ring out in tones that are considered to be relaxing, meditative and even healing or therapeutic by many.  The beautiful and complex sounds they create is the reason they are said to “sing”.

How big are singing bowls?  You can find smaller singing bowls that fit in the palm of your hand.  You can also find sizes and shapes that are as big as a large soup pot or a cauldron!  In addition, there are also crystal bowls that are played in the same manner as the metal singing bowls.  These are especially beautiful in sound and appearance and many believe that they possess even greater healing properties.

Singing bowls can be very simple and plain or they can be beautifully adorned with symbols and writing such as Buddhist mantras, a type of repeated prayer.  Commonly manufactured in Nepal, China and Japan; singing bowls can be found as part of Buddhist prayers and meditation throughout Asia, as well as part of yoga or spiritual practices around the world.

Singing bowls are also used in classrooms in a variety of different ways.  They can help students focus, call for quiet or can help a class develop better listening skills.  Timothy Lomas, a talented art teacher with a good deal of international experiences shared this description of his work: “I teach art at the IDEAL School of Manhattan. It is an inclusion school which means that we have students with special needs (Down Syndrome, ADD, ADHD, Asperger’s, etc) alongside typically developing students. Transition time is always a challenge. To get the students settled and ready to work I introduced the Tibetan Singing Bowl. I demonstrated how to use it and passed it to the student that was the quietest and most attentive. They then would pass it to the next student they thought was ready.”  Says Timothy: “I started with one bowl but now have several and the students know to go directly to the box and pull out the bowls. It’s a great way to get the class centered and focused for a creative experience!”