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

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Make Your Own Gong!

A gong is a hanging percussion instrument that is struck by a special stick or mallet or beater.  When someone bangs a gong – everyone pays attention.  In fact, some legends tell of gongs from ancient China that were rumored to call farmers in from their fields from 50 miles away!

Most historians believe that the art of making these instruments dates back almost 4,000 years ago and some gongs have the most amazing tones when struck.  Others are etched with beautiful designs or patterns that are considered lucky, sacred or special.

Can you make your own homemade version?  Yes!  With a little creativity and some recycled materials, you can make a nice sounding gong to use in your home, neighborhood or classroom!

SUPPLIES

A metal roasting pan  (the larger the better – you can also use a metal pie tin or disposable cake pan )

Pipecleaners or yarn

Cardboard Tube From Wrapping Paper

Paint, stickers, glitter, glue or textured paint for decorating the gong.

For the beater:

Wooden dowel, stick, chopstick or wooden spoon

Electrical tape

DIRECTIONS FOR THE GONG

Start by allowing an adult to poke two holes in the top area of the metal roasting pan – about 2 – 3 inches apart.  Slip a pipecleaner through each hole and then twist the ends together to form a circle.

Now you can insert the wrapping paper tube (or a broomstick or large stick) into the pipecleaner circle and the gong will hang down.  To give your gong a nice sturdy stand, you can use several more pipecleaners to fasten the wrapping paper tube to two chairs that are placed a few feet apart facing outward.

Now that you see how your gong will hang on it’s stand, you may wish to take it down and decorate it.  Add stickers, paint, or glitter and glue. Perhaps you can look up the year you were born in terms of Chinese astrology and put that symbol on your gong.  Maybe you were born in the year of the rat or the pig or the ram or the fish.  It’s great fun to find out.

 

MAKE YOUR OWN BEATER OR MALLET

Lastly, you’ll need a beater to strike the gong. Take a small stick or wooden dowel and wrap one side with electrical tape to form a head.  That’s the side that will strike the gong to create it’s unique and wonderful sound.  If you don’t have a wooden dowel, you can substitute a wooden spoon, a chopstick or an unsharpened pencil, just wrap the head the same way on the end that will strike the gong.

 

Resources

You can find instructions, coloring pages and pdf’s to make almost two dozen unique musical instruments from around the world on DARIA’s website at:

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

Make Your Own Bilma – Australian Clapsticks!

Clapsticks – two sticks that are tapped together – can be found in different countries all over the world. Although they all consist of two small lengths of wood tapped together, they are amazing different in how they look, sound and how they are played as part of the music from their culture of origin. In Australian Aboriginal culture, there are special clapsticks called bilma that are often used to accompany the didgeridoo when it’s played.

What Are Bilma?
Sometimes when a didg is playing, you can hear these small but loud clapsticks keeping a beat for the music. Most traditional bilma are made from the hard wood of a eucalyptus tree, native to Australia. They are often used as part of the Aboriginal corroboree ceremony where dancers become of sacred “Dreamtime” through dance, music and special clothing or costumes.

What Do Bilma Look Like?
One movie about the history of the Aboriginal people in Australia; “Rabbit Proof Fence”, shows a woman playing bilma that are simply two sticks found on the ground.  Other bilma used in ceremony are carved out of hard wood and look more like they are the work of an expert craftsperson. More modern bilma can also have the distinctive dot pattern found in Australian Aboriginal art and can be quite beautiful and creative.  If you make your own, you can be inspired by Australian culture and designs or you can use art that reflects your favorite colors or patterns or images that you find inspirational.

What Supplies Do You Need?
Supplies for this project are simple. For the sticks, you can use two sticks (about 6-8”) found in the woods or a length of wooden dowel found at a hardware store. You can also use an old broomstick or recycle the handle of a broken shovel or garden tool.  If so, cut two pieces that are about the same size that will fit easily into your hand. You’ll also need some of the following for the design: craft paints, Q-tips, fabric paint and possibly a few permanent markers.

Prepare Your Clapsticks
First, start with your sticks. They might need a bit of sanding to smooth out rough edges.  You might want to leave them natural or paint them an overall color as the basis of your design. Once they are prepped and/or painted, then you’re ready for creating your own design.  Here are two options you might like to try.

A Simple Dot Bilma
If you look at most Australian Aboriginal art, it’s formed by a series of dots that create a picture. You can make these dots by dipping a Q-tip in craft paint and them touching it to the surface of your stick. Since making patterns with dots can be a bit unusual, it’s a good idea to play with the Q-tips and dot patterns on a piece of paper first, before you move onto decorating your stick. One creative way of practicing painting with dots is to put your child’s name on a paper and allow them to fill up their name with dots as well as create designs around it. Once you feel you’ve gotten the hang of it, move on to decorating your sticks.

A Crafty Textured Dot Design Bilma
For a more elaborate bilma, you can work with the type of textured fabric paint that is found at any craft store.  Although this type of paint is often used on fabrics, it also works perfectly on wood. Since the level of paint that comes out of the nozzle is a bit tricky, it’s a good idea to practice on a piece of paper first to see how the fabric paint will flow for you. Once you like how it works, start creating the design on your sticks. There’s one warning here, though.  Fabric paint takes a bit of time to harden, so make sure you’ve set your bilma on something to dry – such as an empty, open egg carton or toilet paper holders. That way your dots can dry perfectly and not smudge as you complete your project.

Once you’re happy with what you’ve created, you can seal the project with a coat of clear lacquer, if desired.

Playing The Bilma
Traditional bilma are played by holding one stick in place in one hand and tapping on top of it with the other clapstick. If you make a didgeridoo, you can have one person play the didg and another can keep the beat with the bilma. You can play like this or you can experiment with tapping the sticks together in any number of other ways.

Sing a favorite song and tap to the beat or put on a cd you enjoy and see it you can play in time with the rhythms you hear. Try it with slow or fast music – it’s a great way to learn to listen for the beat of a song.  And take a moment to appreciate what you’ve done.  Making music is a great way of expressing yourself and learning about world cultures at the same time.  Enjoy!

Supplies
2 wooden pieces about 6 – 8” in length
Sandpaper
Craft paint
Q-tips (for the dot design pattern)
Textured fabric paint (for more intricate patterns)
Clear lacquer (if desired, to seal the project when it’s completed).

Related Links:
Make Your Own Didgeridoo – http://www.dariamusic.com/make_Didg.php

Hear, color or create other instruments from around the world: http://www.dariamusic.com/cajon.php

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