It’s A Caxixi!

caxixis 4 lying downCaxixi (pronounced ka-shee-shee) rattles are beautifully woven, small, hand percussion instruments that can be found in Africa and South America.  These simple rattles have a flat piece on the bottom originally made from a dried gourd.  Modern caxixis can have plastic or metal bottoms as well.  The rest of the rattle is a woven “basket” that holds small items which create the sound when it is shaken. The basket area is made of pliable fiber and can be one color or beautiful patterns of colors woven together.  Some caxixis have two baskets attached to one handle.

Although this instrument may look quite simple, a caxixi rattle can make a wide variety of sounds.  You can shake the contents against the softer side of the woven rattle for one sound or against the harder bottom part for another tone.  Skilled percussionists can create some really intricate rhythms with caxixis and they are often used by singers in West Africa when performing with a drum group.  In Brazil, the caxixi is often seen creating the percussion sound for a unique stringed instrument called a birembau.

On modern jazz recordings, you can frequently hear the caxixi played by Brazilian percussionist, vocalist and berimbau player, Naná Vasconcelos.

Make Your Own Caxixi

If you are up for some serious crafting, a Brazilian site called Soul Capoeira shows you how to make real caxixis from fiber and gourds at the post below.  If you’d like to try an easier version from recycled materials – a great project for kids – check out the post from Tiny Tapping Toes, below.

During the month of August 2013, you can win a caxixi rattle in an easy Rafflecopter contest here:

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

Links

Soul Capoeira’s Make Your Own Caxixi Post – From Reeds or Rattan and Gourd Shells

http://soulcapoeira.org/music/how-to-make-a-caxixi/

Make Your Own Caxixi From Recycled Materials

http://www.tinytappingtoes.com/uncategorized/make-your-own-woven-caxixi-rattle/

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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

https://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

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

Make Your Own Rainstick

cactus rainstick 1AHave you ever heard a rainstick?  It’s a long, mainly hollow tube that makes a quiet sound when tilted from side to side, very much like running water or gentle rain.

What Makes The Rainstick Sound?

pieces of dried chola cacturOriginally rainsticks were made of natural materials such as the dried lengths of the chola cactus. These long “arms” of dried cacti have small spikes inside so when they are filled with pebbles, seeds or small objects, the contents can’t easily swish back and forth.  Instead, the seeds, pebbles or beads gently fall between the spikes creating the unique sound associated with the rainstick.  You often see these instruments in South America in countries such as Chile or in the American Southwest, where these cacti are plentiful.

two homemade rainsticksMake A Mailing Tube Rainstick

Since most people don’t have dried cacti in their recycling bin, here’s a way you can reuse an old mailing tube or poster container and still make a great-sounding instrument.  If you can’t find one of these at home, ask around.  Chances are good your recycling needs can be met by a neighbor or family friend and you can save one more object from getting into the waste stream!

Creating The Rainstick Effect

To turn a mailing tube into a rainstick, you need to find a way to create an obstruction – something that will block the materials inside from falling at one time.  In bamboo or gourd rainsticks, a series of wooden spikes are used.  Instead of that approach, we’ll create a wire “maze” using a combination of floral wire/jewelry wire (or any lightweight wire) and pipecleaners.

Twisted wire ready to be placed inside the mailing tube

Cut a length of wire about two to three times the length of the tube. If you cover the ends with a bit of tape, it’s easy for a child to help scrunch the wire up giving it many twists and turns in a way that will still fit inside the diameter of the tube.  Then, twist in some pipecleaners cut in half, throughout the length of your tangled wire.  All these things will help catch the contents as they go from side to side to create the pleasing “falling water” effect.

Tune Your Rainstick

The sound of your rainstick will vary greatly depending on what you decide to put into it as well as how much of that item you choose to add.  For a quieter rainstick, use smaller objects such as seed beads, birdseed or tiny pasta such as pastina or acini de pepe.  Slightly louder are objects like rice, dried lentils, small buttons or paper clips.   Even louder are larger dried beans, pebbles, marbles or any large macaroni.

maraca-contentsHere’s a good way of “tuning” your rainstick. Have several bowls of contents nearby.  Close one end of your rainstick and add the contents.  Seal the other end and try the sound.  Dump it back into your bowl and try another.  What sound is most pleasing to you?  Or mix and match contents.  It’s a fun way of experimenting with sound to discover what sounds best to your ear.

Once you’ve decided on the perfect sound for your rainstick, there are lots of creative ways to decorate the outside of the instrument.  You can color with crayons or permanent markers, create stripes from colorful tape, or even decoupage photos or magazine pictures onto the tube. You can paint a coat of glue on the rainstick and slowly wind different colors of yard around it.  You can also cut squares or small pieces of fabric, cover them with a layer of glue and create a quilt or collage effect for a beautiful handmade rainstick.  Feel free to get creative and make something that is truly unique!

Play Your Rainstick

Rainsticks are most often played by simply turning them upside down.  However, you can also hold them horizontally and shake the contents back and forth like a rattle or shake the stick as the contents fall producing some nice variations in ways to play this simple but versatile instrument!

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.

——————————–

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

https://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

https://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

https://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!

The Quijada – A Latin American Instrument Made From a Donkey’s Jawbone

Musical instruments can be as diverse as the many peoples and cultures on the planet.  One of my favorite unique instruments is a traditional rattle from comes from Afro Peruvian culture called the quijada.  Made from the jawbone of a donkey (the word quijada means jawbone in Spanish), the instrument looks more like an artifact from a museum than an instrument used in a musical band!  And, it’s loud. The jawbone is held in one hand and punched firmly with the other fist.  When the long teeth shake back and forth in the sockets, a loud, rattling or buzzing sound is created.  Since the teeth are slightly uneven, some percussionists also play this jawbone by dragging a stick or rasp over it like a guiro.

Believe it or not, the lower jawbone of a donkey, horse or zebra is also used in several other cultures, with different names and slightly different methods of playing, of course.  According to music historians, you can find similar jawbone instruments in Argentina, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, and in some types of Mexican folk traditions such as “Costa Chica” music.

Can you make your own version of a quijada at home?  Since jawbones aren’t handy around most homes, creating an authentic one might be difficult.   However, you can create the type of rattling percussion made by this instrument by using egg cartons, tape and some form of mock teeth that can rattle in your container.  The result can be a great-sounding “monster” rattle!

Get Your Supplies

Aside from materials you might use for decoration, all you need is an extra egg carton, packing tape and objects that can fit in the 12 spaces of the container.   What can you use?  Practically anything.  Look around for items like large pebbles, dried pasta, buttons, coins, large beads, seashells, or even small pine cones.  Each will make a slightly different sound when the carton is closed and you rap on the side.

Play With The Sound

Experiment with the sounds created when you place different objects in your rattle.  Once you’ve found the combination you like, move on to decorating the outside.

A Monster Rattle

Would you like to give your rattle a face?  We’ve created eight different creatures you can color and add to the top of your egg carton.  You can find them at the craft url below.  Or create your own look or design.  Use paint, glitter, glue and create something truly unique.

Tape It Up!

The last step is to seal up your rattle.  Since many egg cartons have open spaces in them, make sure to tape them closed.  Clear packing tape works well here.  This keeps the contents inside and makes it a more sturdy, child-proof instrument to play with.

Time To Play!

If you want to play your monster rattle like a quijada, hold it in one hand and rap it with the side of fist of your other hand.  However, since this is a rattle, you can play with it in any number of other ways.  Shake it back and forth, up and down, start slow and go faster.  Play along with your favorite songs and see if you can match the beats.  Or sing a favorite song and let your rattle keep the time.

Experiment and have fun!

Resources

Step-By-Step Instructions/Coloring Pages for this craft from TeachersPayTeachers
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/EGG-CARTON-QUIJADA-MUSICAL-RATTLE-1146672

World music crafts and coloring pages for kids from DARIA MUSIC

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

Quijada Videos
A young woman creating traditional rhythms with the quijada

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wmJsBNIh24

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