The Ukulele – 4 Strings and Jumping Fleas!

The sound of the tiny but mighty ukulele plays a big role in the folk music and dance of Hawaii.  But, did you know that it was originally modeled after a Portuguese instrument called the machete, brought to the islands in the 1800’s?  From there is evolved into the ukelele we recognize now, with a guitar-shaped body and 4 nylon or gut strings.

An Unusual Name

How did the ukulele (or oo-koo-le-le) get it’s name?  Some people translate the name from the Hawaiian to mean “jumping flea” and say that it describes the “fidgety” movements of the musician’s hands when the instrument is being played.   Others translate it a bit differently.  One of the last Hawaiian queens, Queen Lili’uoklani, said the name stood for “the gift that came here” by combining the Hawaiian words: uku (gift or reward) and lele (to come).

A Family of Instruments

Like many stringed instruments, there are several different types of ukuleles that vary in size and tone.  Most commonly, you can find these four different types: soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone. The instrument pictured here is a smaller-sized soprano ukulele.

Traditional Ukulele Songs

Here’s a short video that shows two ukulele players talking about how they began playing their instruments and performing a duet of a traditional Hawaiian song called “Noho Paipai” as part of a Hawaiian music festival.

Color A Ukulele

You can find a ukulele coloring page on DARIA’s world music for kids site at:

http://www.dariamusic.com

You can also find a full color uke poster plus coloring page at her TeachersPayTeachers store (.99) here:

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/The-Ukelele-A-Stringed-Instrument-from-Hawaii-Mini-Poster-and-Coloring-Page-1095283

The Paraguayan Harp

paraguayan harp from wikiFew countries consider music so important that they actually designate a national instrument.  Not so in Paraguay, where it’s beautiful and distinctive harp and harp music are considered national treasures and are loved throughout the region and the world.

Although there are many harps found in Europe, South America and across the globe, the Paraguayan harp is distinctively light, weighing only about 8 to 10 pounds. Tuned to a diatonic scale, the Paraguayan harp can have 32, 36, 38, 40, 42 or 46 strings and stands about 4 ½ to 5 feet tall.

But why talk about a Paraguayan harp, when you can listen to one?  Here are four videos our favorite Paraguayan harp songs along with a bit of description and explanation.

400 Harps Play The Song “Pajaro Campana”

A classic of Paraguayan folk music, here you see 400 harps (yes, really 400 harps!) perform this beloved song.  What is a pajaro campana?  Literally a “bell bird”, most people agree that it’s the name for a bird heard around the capital city of Asunción whose call sounds like a bell.

This mega-concert for harps was held at the “Plaza Uruguaya” on July 15, 2012 to mark the 475th anniversary of the capital city of Asunción, Paraguay.

Pajaro Campana  (The Bell Bird) Performed By Mariano y Ernesto

Here’s a second version of the same song.  This time, you can hear two harps playing together in the form of a duet.

Harpist, Celso Duarte Plays The Song “Iguana “

Videotaped at a family concert in Carnegie Hall  Dec 11, 2012, you can hear the distinctive voice of the Paraguayan harp as well as an ensemble of folk musicians playing shekere, quijada, upright bass and even dancing on a wooden box!

Moliendo Café Performed By Nicolas Carter on Paraguyan Harp

Moliendo Café means “grinding coffee” in English. The song was written by composer, Hugo Blanco and has a beautiful and haunting melody.  Performed here as an instrumental by harpist, Nicolas Carter, lyrics to the song are below the video clip.

Moliendo Café By Hugo Blanco

Cuando la tarde languidece

Renacen las sombras

Y en su quietud los cafetales

Parecen decir

Esa triste canción de amor

De la vieja molienda

Que en el letargo de la noche

Se deja sentir.

(bis)

Una pena de amor, una tristeza

Lleva el sambo Manuel en su amargura

Pasa incansable la noche

Moliendo café.

Cuando la tarde languidece

Renacen las sombras

Y en su quietud los cafetales

Parecen decir

Esa triste canción de amor

De la vieja molienda

Que en el letargo de la noche

Se deja sentir.

Una pena de amor, una tristeza

Lleva el sambo Manuel en su amargura

Pasa incansable la noche

Moliendo café.

Cuando la tarde languidece

Renacen las sombras

Y en su quietud los cafetales

Parecen decir

Esa triste canción de amor

De la vieja molienda

Que en el letargo de la noche

Se deja sentir.

Que en el letargo de la noche

Se deja sentir.

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Main Photo – Photo Credit By Aij (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Vuvuzelas – The Horn That Is Loved (And Hated) All Over The World!

Although this horn originated in South Africa, it seems to have found it’s way all over the planet – especially where soccer fans want to cheer on their team.   One South African fan claims he fabricated the original vuvuzela from a metal bicycle horn, but since that time you can see many different versions made from a variety of materials, including some pretty creative homemade horns such as some of the ones seen here.

We’re grateful to the Media Club South Africa for sharing these many images of how different cultures have adopted, altered or welcomed this unique instrument into their world.

Above: A vuvuzela playing a duet with a Slovakian wind instrument called the fujara.

Above left:  A homemade vuvuzela decorated in team colors played by a child in São José dos 
Campos, Brazil.

Above right: A dad and daughter in Seoul, South Korea watch their team at the 2010 Fifa World Cup match.

Below left: Even Spiderman loves the vuvuzela! Photo from Berlin, Germany, 2010 Fifa World Cup 
quarterfinals.

Below right:  A soccer fan from Uruguay plays his homemade version of a vuvuzela as his team beats Ghana in the 2010 Fifa World Cup 
match.

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During June 2013, you can win a vuvuzela on DARIA’s monthly song page here:

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

You can also find easy directions to make your own from recycled materials here:

http://www.dariamusic.com/docs/Vuvuzela.pdf

What is a Vuvuzela?

The vuvuzela has been called the most annoying or irritating instrument in the world.  Originating in South Africa, this loud collapsible horn became popular at soccer matches – especially the World Cup 2010 – and has since spread to countries all over the globe

Although it’s roots are not certain, many historians believe it was inspired by the horn of a kudu (antelope) and early versions were used to call villagers to community gatherings.  The word “vuvuzela” is a bit of a mystery.  Some people trace it to a Zulu phrase meaning “to make a vuvu sound”.  However one South African soccer fan named Freddie “Saddam” Maake feels he invented this unique creation by fabricating one from an aluminum bicycle horn and he identifies the word vuvuzela as coming from Zulu words meaning “welcome”, “unite” and “celebration.” Another group, the Nazareth Baptist Church in South Africa, has evidence that the vuvuzela was used as part of their worship before it became universally popular in the soccer stadiums.

So why do people love or hate this horn?  Well, first of all, it’s loud.  In fact, some sporting events and other venues and locations  have banned the horns.  Experts agree that being too close to one played at full volume for an extended period of time can cause noise-induced hearing loss.  Secondly, they only make one note and can drone on, although some serious players claim they can get a variation in sound by playing the vuvuzela like a didgeridoo.

Can you make your own version of a vuvuzela that won’t be as loud as it’s soccer match cousins?  Yes!  Check out the pdf below to find a craft activity that uses recycled materials to make your own homemade version. http://www.dariamusic.com/docs/Vuvuzela.pdf

Want to hear one?  Check out Vuvuzela Radio at the link below where you can hear a vuvuzela proudly proclaiming it’s one note,  24/7!

http://www.vuvuzela.fm/

Photo Credits:  Image of a boy playing vuvuzela and a South African Stadium worker playing a vuvuzela in the World Cup stadium in South Africa (above) are courtesy of MediaClubSouthAfrica.com.  This outstanding website shares a wealth of information about all aspects of South African life, arts, history, travel and tourism and can be found at:

http://www.mediaclubsouthafrica.com

Two Easy Musical Crafts And 16 Activities For Cinco De Mayo Fun!

Mexican flagA friend of mine recently did a post for Babble titled: Cinco De Mayo, Beyond Donkeys and Sombreros.  It was a wonderful article offering 16 great ways to get beyond stereotypes about Mexico and Mexican culture and have fun while learning with kids.

The post includes easy outdoor games the require no special supplies such as “Mar y Tierra” (Sea and Earth) as well as simple instructions for making an easy piñata, a woven “God’s Eye” or discovering the works of Mexican artist, Diego Rivera, among others.  All great ways of moving beyond stereotypes to real projects and activities that provide more authentic ways to celebrate culture and discover diversity.

Included in Mari’s post is one of my crafts that shows how to make a homemade guiro.  A guiro can be used to accompany almost any type of music from Mexico or to learn a new song or two from this region such as De Colores or Cielito Lindo.  Along with using homemade and real maracasrecycled materials to create a colorful homemade guiro, you can also collect small water bottles and create an easy, child-safe version of maracas, another instrument heard throughout Mexican, Central America and Latin American music.

Here’s how to find Mari’s activity-filled post as well as detailed instructions on how to make your own maracas and guiros, plus other related links.

Wishing you all a happy 5 de Mayo!

Cinco De Mayo Links

Screen shot 2013-05-03 at 3.25.47 PM16 Crafts And Activities To Help You Celebrate Cinco De Mayo Beyond Donkeys and Sombreros By Mari Hernandez-Tuten

http://www.babble.com/latina/celebrating-cinco-de-mayo-beyond-sombreros-and-donkeys/

Make Your Own Guiro

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

Make Your Own Maracas

http://makingmulticulturalmusic.wordpress.com/2011/10/12/make-some-marvelous-maracas/

la cucaracha smile(2)A Silly Video to the Mexican Song – La Cucaracha!

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yfka9m6NhzE

A Video of the Mexican Song – La Bamba

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EGICzWLJ5Qg&list=UUImOHUJ3bk2yKXh4iaieKVQ&index=7

All About The Song – La Bamba

http://makingmulticulturalmusic.wordpress.com/2012/09/04/lets-dance-tola-bamba/

An Instrument from An Armadillo? The Charango!

charango full color image If you were to travel to the Andes mountains of South America you might hear a small stringed instrument called a charango.  At first glance, it looks a bit like a mandolin, but instead of four sets of double strings like the mandolin, the charango has five sets of double strings for a total of ten strings.  And there’s something else that’s different about it.  If you turn over one of the older style charangos, you’ll see that it is made from the shell of a hairy armadillo!

harry-the-armadilloIf that seems like an odd choice for an instrument, it helps to know the background of how this strange and beautiful instrument came to be.  Historians believe that the majority of instruments in the Andes before the Spanish arrived were wind and percussion instruments.  There were an amazing variety of flutes – some several feet long.  There were different sizes and shapes of panpipes as well as rattles and drums that varied from location to location.  When the Spanish Conquistadors arrived in the 1500’s, they brought guitars, mandolins and the harp.  Many of the records dating back to that time period share how local musicians adopted and integrated these stringed instruments into their culture with great enthusiasm.   Since wood was scarce; especially at altitudes that soared above the tree line, the hard shell of an armadillo became the sounding “bowl” for their new world version of the old world mandolin.

Screen shot 2013-03-12 at 3.24.17 PMYou can hear the unique sound of the charango on many of the songs on DARIA’s new album – Cancioncitas De Los Andes/Little Songs Of The Andes.  You can also color your own version of a charango as well as other instruments from around the world on the craft and activity page of DARIA’s website as listed below.

Cancioncitas De Los Andes / Little Songs Of The Andes – On Itunes

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/cancioncitas-los-andes-little/id602798167

Cancioncitas De Los Andes / Little Songs Of The Andes on Amazon mp3

http://amzn.com/B00BG9ABEE

DARIA’s World Music For Kids – Craft and Activity Page

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

During the month of March 2013, you can download a free mp3 of the song, El Condor Pasa, at the link below:

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

Make Your Own African-Style Tongue Rattle

The beautiful, wide and diverse continent of Africa has some truly amazing and clever musical creations. One of my favorites is a small percussion instrument called a tongue rattle.  Generally made from carved wood, the rattle is shaken quickly back and forth and a “tongue” within the two carved sides makes a noise like a person who just can’t stop talking.

It’s loud, funny, clever and a great way to allow kids to explore making rhythms and creating music.

A Few Simple Supplies

To make a homemade version of a tongue rattle, you need two (same size) plastic or styrofoam cups, tape, two twist-ties, yarn or string and some small items for making noise inside the cups. Beads, paper clips, buttons or metal washers all work perfectly for this craft.

Assemble Your Rattle

To make your cups work like a tongue rattle, turn them over and poke two holes in the top.  Next, fold a small twist-tie in half. Then, take a small string or a piece of embroidery thread and string beads, buttons or other noise-makers onto it and tie it into a circle.  Slip the string circle with the noise-makers onto the twist tie and twist that into place, attaching it inside the cup.  Adjust your string for size so that it will rattle about an inch or so from the far end of the cup. Here’s a picture of what that might look like.

Once you’ve assembled both cups, place them together and tape them up.  Now you’re set to move your hand back and forth and get the same kind of sound that’s made by one of these unusual African instruments.

Different Sounds From Different Materials

If you want to make several rattles you can compare how different ones might sound.  A rattle made with two plastic cups using heavier beads or metal washers as noise-makers may be rather loud.  A rattle made with two styrofoam cups and plastic paper clips may be a bit quieter.  You may want to experiment with what’s inside that creates sound or what’s on the outside as decoration for your musical creation.

Play Your Tongue Rattle

To play a tongue rattle, flick your wrist back and forth while holding it.  Play it slowly.  Play it quickly.  Or try something tricky like starting slowly, going faster and faster and then come to a complete stop. Sounds cool – doesn’t it?

After you’ve discovered some of the sounds your rattle can make, put on some of your favorite music and play along.  See if you can play in time with the beat or match the rhythm you’re hearing.  You might be surprised at how this simple instrument can really speak to you!

Win a Carved African Tongue Rattle

During October 2012 we’re giving away a really cool tongue rattle plus two other African instruments.  You can learn more and enter here:

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

More Crafty Musical Fun From Africa And Around The World

Explore a shekere made from a dried gourd or a recycled milk jug.  Turn bobby pins into a working mbira thumb piano.  Make the type of ceremonial instruments found in the hieroglyphics of Ancient Egypt. Find all this and more at:

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

The Sistrum – An Instrument That Dates Back To Ancient Egypt

Illustration by Madcow Designs (www.madcow-designs.com)

Almost every culture in the world has created some form of instrument that will either shake, rattle or roll.  Ancient Egypt is no exception.

If you could travel back in time to the days of the pyramids and pharaohs you might see a special kind of hand-held rattle called a sistrum.  Played mainly by women, it was moved from side to side and the bangles would rock back and forth creating a unique sound and a distinctive rhythm.

What exactly did a sistrum look like?  We’ve created a coloring page based on many of the hieroglyphics and historical data that we’ve found. We’ve also come up with some fun ways that you can make your own sistrum at home.  You can either start with a wire coat hanger or you can take a nature walk and look for a branch shaped like the letter “Y”.  And your bangles?  They can be jingle bells, pop-top tabs, metal washers or even buttons beads or seeds.  Whatever you use, you’re sure to create an amazing sounding instrument that’s both old and new at the same time!

Download – A Sistrum Coloring Page

Download Instructions – How To Make a Recycled Sistrum (With a Clothes Hanger)

Download Instructions – How To Make a Natural Sistrum (With a Tree Branch)

WHAT’S A POW-WOW DRUM ?

It’s big.  It’s beautiful and it has a voice like thunder.  It’s a pow-wow drum!

Seven Cedars Native American Group Women's Drum group perform at the University of Pennsylvania Museum

Have you ever been to a pow-wow or Native American gathering? Some are private and closed to the public, but many are advertised and open to anyone who wishes to come.  Some have wonderful dance contests with big prizes, most have great food and wonderful vendors with beautiful handcrafts and other items.  All of them have music and at the center of the music is a big drum, played in unison by a group of men or women. That’s a pow-wow drum.

One thing that most folks notice right away about the pow-wow drum is that all the drummers are playing together in unison. Although there is a drum leader who usually chooses songs and indicates the beginning and end of a song, all players strike the drum together – creating a powerful beat that sets the stage for singing or dancing to the music.

MAKE YOUR OWN VERSION OF A POW-WOW DRUM

Children in Nazareth, Israel explore their own homemade drum

According to Native American music historian; Tom Bee, the first pow-wow drum played was probably a skin stretched between many hands and played with sticks, mallets or beaters.  A drum like this can be played by many people at the same time and is easy to make and enjoy.

To make the drum, you’ll need a large piece of durable fabric like vinyl, suede, leather or fake skin from a fabric store. Cut your fabric to resemble a large animal skin.

Girls at the Museum of the American Woman in Dallas, Texas decorate their own version of a big drum

You’ll also want to make a beater for each drummer. To make the beaters, start with a wooden dowel or chopsticks or unsharpened pencils. Wrap them with electrical tape to form a “head” that can beat on the drum.

A beautiful drum beater.

PLAYING THE SKIN DRUM
Drummers situate themselves around the drum, holding the skin in one hand and their beater in the other. Then, they strike the drum together – at the same time.  It makes for a powerful sound and shows how any activity can be stronger when it is powered by cooperation and created by the joining of many hearts and minds as one.

DRUMMING TOGETHER
To practice drumming together, you may wish to try a simple song used by DARIA 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…

(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 be raised in the air).

Each drummer can take a chance at leading this short song or any one person can lead the song and then point to another player to have the next chance to lead. It’s a fun way to build the skill of playing together cooperatively!

Here’s hoping you make some beautiful music with this great activity!  Check out some of these links below as well:

Hear a Pow-Wow Drum
http://www.dariamusic.com/drum.php

Hear a Pow-Wow Drum song by Starfeather Native American Group
http://www.dariamusic.com/drum.php

Color a Pow-wow Drum (online)
http://www.dariamusic.com/color_Drum.php

Color a Pow-wow Drum (print-out)
http://www.dariamusic.com/docs/color_drum.pdf

Make A Drum Beater
http://www.dariamusic.com/make_beater.php

All About The Talking Feather
http://wp.me/p1gB0a-3D

Teaching Kids the Wonderful Diversity of American Indians
Excellent article by Bernhard Michaelis of Native Child

http://www.nativechild.com/article.html

Make Some Marvelous Maracas!

Although Cinco De Mayo is celebrated in May and Hispanic heritage is highlighted in the USA from September 15 – October 15th, any time of year is great for making and exploring Latin American culture with this simple musical craft.

Maracas are one of the simplest instruments to play for young children or the beginning musician. They are essentially rattles with handles. They come in pairs. You put one in each hand and you shake, rattle and roll! Of course, if you’ve seen experienced percussionists play maracas, you would be amazed at what they can make them do. So, a pair of maracas are versatile little instruments for “just jamming with the kids” or for exploring rhythms, beats and tempos as a fun way to learn more about music.

Most folks consider maracas to be native to Latin America, however, similar instruments (pairs of rattles) can be found in cultures around the world. Most often associated with the music of Cuba, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Venezuela, Jamaica and Brazil, maracas have been played for centuries. One set of maracas made of clay were found in ruins in present day Columbia. They were used by the indigenous people of that area and dated back to almost 1,500 years ago.

Maracas come in all sorts of sizes, shapes and designs!

What are maracas made of? Most traditional maracas are made from natural materials such as gourds, clay, wood or coconut shells. More modern ones can be made of plastic, leather or other synthetic materials. They are filled with small objects such as seeds, pebbles or dried beans. To create “recycled rattles” you can start with smaller water bottles from the recycling bin and be even more clever with fillings – finding things you can easily use from around the house, garage or in your junk drawer.

Get Out Your Materials !
Although you can use any type of small plastic bottles, the 8 oz (236 mL) size water bottles are just perfect for this project in size and shape. If you’ve sworn off plastic, then ask around. A neighbor, classmate or local store may offer you what they might have sent out as recycling.

You’ll also need two toilet paper rolls and some sturdy tape. Electrical tape works best and colorful electrical tape adds a nice decorative touch to what you are creating.

Then you’ll need some fillings. Remember each filling produces a different sound, so that may also be part of your plan for creating your set of maracas. For instance, sand or salt maracas will be very quiet. Dried beans, macaroni or large bead maracas will be nice and loud. Here are some suggestions that you can find around most every household:

Sand, salt, pebbles, birdseed, rice, beans, small beads, large beads, dried pasta, rice, dried peas or beans, small washers, paper clips, small erasers.

A complete supply list is provided below as well as some suggestions for great sounding maraca combinations.

Make Your Maracas
First take your clean and dried 8 oz water bottle and fill with your chosen contents. Close it up with the cap and then listen to the sound. Once it sounds good to your ears, then you can move to the next step. But first, check out how many professional maracas are made – they are created to be slightly different in sound.

Many sets of maracas are “pitched” differently. In other words, shaking the right hand one will sound different from shaking the left hand one, so you can create some great patterns by playing with the sounds. For instance, if you make my version of rice and beans maracas (described below), the rice will be sound a bit softer and higher in pitch, the beans a bit louder and lower in pitch, so you can build rhythms on those sounds. You can also describe the rhythms in a fun way, such as rice, rice, beans, rice, rice beans or rice, beans, rice, rice beans. Almost anyone can learn new rhythms and even complicated rhythm patterns with this creative approach.

So, now you’ve decided how you want your pair of maracas to sound and you’ve tightened the cap on your two water bottles. The next step is to create the handle. Take your two toilet paper rolls and make a straight cut from one end to the other. Tighten the roll in on itself to about the size of a ¾ inch dowel and then apply your electrical tape. Start wrapping the tape around the bottom part of the rattle on the bottle and move down onto the new handle. Wrap slowly, covering all the cardboard of the toilet paper roll and you will have created a rather sturdy handle for your new instrument.

Now you are ready to play.

Time To Jam
Do you want to just jam? Then simply pick up your instrument and shake, shake, shake. Or dance around, move and groove, and shake things up to your heart’s content. If you want to get into more of the maraca’s musical possibilities, then take some time to check out what they can do.

Aside from shaking them back and forth where the sound comes from the contents striking the sides, you can swoosh them around. By moving your hand in a circular motion, the contents of your maracas won’t hit side to side, but will whoosh a bit around in the bottle, creating a different sound. You can also “crescendo” your maracas. You start by shaking them quietly and slightly and then build little by little to get the loudest sound. It’s a fun way to begin or end a song.

You can also make several pairs and mix and match. What sound patterns can you create? Which maracas sound best to you or sound best as pairs? Does a certain pattern sound like a song you know? Or does a song you know inspire a new pattern? Despite the fact that these are really simple little instruments, they can truly inspire hours of musical fun.

SUPPLIES (for one pair of maracas)
2 eight oz (236 mL) water bottles
2 toilet paper rolls
Electrical tape (colorful, if possible)

Filling for your maracas – any of the following:
Sand, salt, pebbles, birdseed, rice, beans, small beads, large beads, dried pasta, rice, dried peas or beans, small washers, paper clips, small erasers.

GREAT-SOUNDING COMBINATIONS FOR MARACAS
Rice and Beans Maracas
Rice in one maraca, beans in the other. The color and the sound are different, making it really easy to create patterns.

“Back To School” Maracas
Colorful paper clips in one, small extra erasers in the other. A nice difference in the sound between the right and left hand.

Sand and Little Pasta Maracas
These are really quiet and subtle. The sand or salt maraca is softer then the tiny pasta (choose acini de pepe, pastina or orzo pasta) making this a great choice for kids that want to learn to listen, kids with noise sensitivity or for learning some of the aspects of playing a percussion instrument quietly but effectively.

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