What’s the National Instrument of Bhutan? Find It Here!

ukulele color imageThe internet has some really handy compilation sites.  We’ve recently discovered a Wikipedia page that shares the national instruments from a variety of diverse countries of the world.

What’s a national instrument?  It can be an instrument discovered or played in a country, like the South African vuvuzela horn.  It can also be a musical instrument that holds cultural and symbolic importance for a state, a nation, culture or a particular race or ethnicity of people.  Included in this list are distinctive drums, percussion instruments, stringed instruments and more, each one representing the unique character of the country and culture it’s identified with.

Think of the balalaika of Russia  Or the ukulele of Hawaii.   And if you take a moment to check out this list, you’ll notice that each instrument has a clickable link to a more detailed page with additional description, pictures and musical information.  In short, this is an amazing place to begin any study or exploration of world music and world music instruments.

charango full color imageCan a country have more then one “national instrument”?  Yes, you’ll notice that several countries have multiple instruments listed as their national instruments.  For instance, Peru has both the Afro-Peruvian cajón (box drum) and the Andean charango, a stringed instrument made from the shell of an armadillo.

So what is the national instrument of Bhutan?  It’s a long-necked, seven-stringed lute called the drayen.  To find out more, you’ll just have to check out the link, here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_national_instruments_%28music%29

Links and Resources

Vuvuzela – South Africa
MYO Vuvuzela Stadium Horn
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/The-Vuvuzela-Make-Play-Your-Own-South-African-Stadium-Horn-1242716

Balalaika-Ill-ColoredBalalaika – Russia
Balaika Poster and Coloring Page
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Balalaika-Mini-Poster-and-Coloring-Page-917136

Wooden Spoons – Russia
https://makingmulticulturalmusic.wordpress.com/2014/01/29/playing-the-spoonsin-russia/

Cajón  – Peru
Hear, Color or Craft One At:
http://www.dariamusic.com/cajon.php

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

Charango – Peru
Poster and Coloring Page
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/The-Charango-An-Instrument-from-South-America-Mini-Poster-and-Coloring-Page-613417

Sistrum posterSistrum – Egypt
Color or Craft One At:
http://www.dariamusic.com/crafts.php

Didgeridoo – Australia
Hear, Color or Craft One At:
http://www.dariamusic.com/didgeridoo.php

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New E-Book Explores Musical Instruments With Hispanic Roots

HHM-coverHow did you celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month?

Officially Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15 – October 15th each year and if you’re wondering about the unusual dates, check out the post below from the official US government site.  But any time of year is good for exploring the wide diversity of cultures that share a Hispanic heritage by starting with the instruments that create their signature sounds and popular music.  From Afro-Cuban bongo drums to Andean panpipes, from guitars that trace their roots back to Spain to new world guiros, making musical crafts is a great, hands-on way of exploring these rich cultural heritages.

We’ve just released this new E-book what explores the background of 10 musical instruments, offers crafts projects and also 5 black and white coloring pages for kids.  Check out the link below from TeachersPayTeachers or get a copy free – until October 31st on DARIA’s world music for kids website.  Make sure you scroll down, as this E-book give-away is the last item on the page, here:

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

Resources And Links

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage – Musical Craft And Coloring E-Book – FromTeachersPayTeachers
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Celebrate-Hispanic-Heritage-Musical-Craft-And-Coloring-E-Book-1427919

Background and History of Hispanic Heritage Month
https://makingmulticulturalmusic.wordpress.com/2013/09/08/2013-national-hispanic-heritage-month-is-september-15-october-15th/

Exploring The Music Of Papua New Guinea

This article was written by Chelsea from Veritable Treasure, who is running a series of posts to introduce the country of Papua New Guinea to children in an effort to raise funds for a teacher training in Papua New Guinea she has organized for September 2013.  We will be randomly selecting two fundraiser participants to receive a copy of Beautiful Rainbow World a beautiful CD which you can find details about at the end of the post!  Be sure to donate before the deadline of 18 June!

Papua New Guinea is a rich country with beautiful wildlife, natural resources, food, and culture.  In this post I will share a few highlights about music in this vast country.

Traditional celebrations called a “sing-sing” include singing, dancing plus food and gift-giving.  Flutes, drums, and other percussion instruments are most often used.  Many times a “leader” establishes a song and then the song has many rounds where other singers add in harmonies and layers, as in a round.

In recent years there have been quite a few Cultural Festivals established in regions around the country, such as the one featured below, where numerous tribal dance, costumes, music, and artifacts are on display.

As for current popular music, you will hear a lot of reggae influence and songs using the “offbeats.”  In this music video “Kiri-O” you will see a lot of typical Port Moresby (the largest city in PNG) scenes:
•    Red mouths from chewing Betle Nut.  Betel nut has a mild stimulant effect and is chewed to relieve stress and reduce hunger.  It can be found on most street corners.
•    People wearing bilums (woven bags) around  their necks.  Worn by men and women alike, bilums come in many shapes, styles, and sizes and can be worn around the neck, on the shoulder, across the neck over the shoulder, or on the forehead so the bilum falls on the back.
•    Cars going around roundabouts on the street.  There are only a few red lights in the whole city of Port Moresby due to common breaks in electricity.
•    Laundry hanging up to dry.  Most laundry is washed by hand and dried in the sun.
•    Walking on the streets.  Most people use walking to get around; very few have cars.
•    Children wearing the PNG flag.  The PNG flag is a great source of pride and can be seen on many clothes and personal items (umbrellas, bags, etc) that locals use.
•    You will also notice the lyrics are a mix of English and Tok Pisin (Pidgin) which is quite common.

To check out the other posts which will give you some more background about the Papua New Guinea (including pictures of children!), go to this page to find the series.

http://multiculturalkidblogs.com/?p=3887

Zampoñas – The Panpipes of the Andes

quena on whiteAlthough you can find this type of instrument in several locations around the globe, zampoñas from the Andes mountains of South America have a beautiful, breathy sound that can be heard playing some of the most haunting melodies on the planet.  And since there are so many variations of this simple instrument, exploring zampoñas can be a great way to learn more about the geography, culture and music of this region of South America

Zampoñas (pronounced zam pon nyas) are a series of hollow “pipes” made from hollow reeds found near lakes in the high mountains.  When these reeds are cut and used one at a time, they often become simple flutes such as the quena pictured here. When the reeds are cut to different lengths and bound together in a flat or slightly curved arrangement, they become part of the the large family of panpipes that can be played solo or in a group. Also called siku or sikuri, many festivals feature groups of men playing together – called sikuriada – where the song is performed by alternating notes back and forth between the players while they walk.

sicuriada en las plazaPlaying the zampoñas is a bit different than many common wind instruments.  Various sounds are created by blowing over the top of the reeds in the same way you might blow over an empty soda bottle to create a musical note.  Although understanding all the different names of zampoñas can be complicated, here’s some basic facts.  The word zampoña is Spanish.  In the Native language of Aymara, panpipes are called siku or sicuri.  In the Native language of Quechua, panpipes are called “Antara”.  In Quechua, the family of panpipes include Ika or Chulli (or Ch’ulli) that are about the size of a fist.  The next largest size are called “mallta”.  One octave lower than “mallta” are the “sanka” (or zanka).  And the largest – sometimes three or four feet long – are called “toyo”.  Just as the names change from village to village and region to region, the manner of playing is also wonderfully unique, making this an instrument that will never cease to amaze those who wish to explore it or learn to play it.

Would you like to listen to this instrument, color one or make your own version at home or in class?  Check out some of the helpful links below.

Resources and Links

Zampoñas Coloring Page

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

Make Your Own Zamponas Activity

http://www.dariamusic.com/docs/MYO%20Zamponas%20Final.pdf

A Child’s Life In The Andes – A 35 Page Book about Music and Culture of This Region

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/A-Childs-Life-In-The-Andes-E-Book

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

Discover The Kalimba or Mbira and It’s African Roots

A wonderful “first instrument” to experiment with melody and sound is the thumb piano, kalimba or mbira. Mark Holdaway contributed this article to our blog from his Kalimba News series.  Need more in depth info?  His kalimba history PDF (below) is amazing, with many outstanding historical pictures and background proving that this is an instrument that is as exciting to learn about as it is to play!

Pictured Above: two mbira dzavadzimu; middle: two karimbas; center: student karimba

The kalimba is a powerful instrument – a powerful symbol of ancient African genius, and a powerful tool for peace and for multi-racial understanding. The mbira is an instrument that helps the Shona people of Zimbabwe to connect to the spirits of their ancestors. Many African Americans are the descendents of slaves who were torn from their rich African culture homes. Malcolm X took this name because he did not know his real name. The “X” represents not just his true family name, but the entirety of his lost African culture. The kalimba gives all of us an opportunity to connect with ancient African culture. As most kalimbas are non-traditional instruments, this connection is more symbolic than literal. That doesn’t make it any less emotionally real. Maurice White of Earth, Wind, and Fire, inspired and educated a whole generation about the kalimba. Players like Kevin Spears and Kevin Nathanial find their own paths back to Africa with their own compositions, reflecting their understanding of what African music is about.

Stella Chiweshe with mbira dzavadzimu

On the other hand, there are rich traditions such as the mbira – there is speculation that the mbira tradition goes back to Great Zimbabwe some 800 years ago. There are dozens of songs in this tradition – many of them are newer, but the lore is that some of them go back to the birth of the mbira. Due to a number of fervent promoters of the mbira dzavadzimu, there are more mbira players in the world today than ever before, and the mbira tradition will never be lost – unlike some other less popular traditional African kalimbas whose old players are not being replaced by young players, so some of those traditional instruments are dying out. Andrew Tracey believes he can see even further back into the past than the mbira dzavadzimu. At the core of the mbira and mbira songs are a set of eight or nine notes that appear over and over in central African kalimbas, and Andrew lays out the case for these notes being the original African mbira. In fact, he says that Father Dos Santos, the first European to document the kalimba in 1586, almost surely wrote about an instrument made up of these nine notes.

The nine notes of the primal karimba or student karimba make up the lower row of notes on the karimba (aka mbira nyunga nyunga), and most of the traditional karimba pieces have essential parts that are played mainly on these notes. Hence, the student karimba actually has a repertoire of songs that could be very ancient – possibly going back to 1300 years ago when the iron age reached the Zambezi valley, when Gerhardt Kubik posits that metal tined kalimbas were first made in Africa.

When I play these potentially ancient songs on the student karimba, I feel that I can touch the genius of the Africans who lived over a thousand years ago and wrote this music that sounds remarkably complex and remarkably modern. The student karimba is a perfect instrument for young students today to play to learn about traditional African music and be touched by the genius of ancient African music.

– Mark Holdaway.

Explore the Kalimba Magic website:

http://www.kalimbamagic.com

Kalimba History And Instruction Download

http://kalimbamagic.com/newsletters/newsletter7.01/newsletter7.01_assets/BlackHistoryMonth_2012.pdf

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)

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!”

Make A Sticker Shekere

Have you ever seen a shekere from Africa? It is a beautiful musical instrument made from a dried gourd that is shaken, tossed or moved from hand to hand creating wonderful rhythms and songs.

Here’s a picture of several traditional shekeres from a variety of countries:

Traditional shekeres (or sekeres) are most often made from a type of squash called a birdhouse gourd that grows in many locations around the world.  It is grown, dried and about a year later, ready to be turned into an instrument. When the outside of the gourd hardens into a thick shell,  it is strung with a netting that fits loosely around the rounded part of the gourd.  Beads, seeds, shells or other rattling objects are attached to the netting to create the percussive sound of the shekere.

Since gourds may be hard to find and take some time to dry, here is a simplified version of this musical craft that uses stickers and recycled milk jugs.  Also, working with netting and beads can be difficult for tiny hands, so this craft allows young children to create beautiful patterns that are unique and still have an instrument that is fun to play along with African songs or any uptempo music.  A complete supply list for this project is below.

MAKE YOUR OWN SHEKERE
First, wash and clean your milk jug and keep the lid or cap. If you are working with many children, you may wish to put each child’s name on their milk jug for identification, should some of the shekeres look similar. Next, allow your students to do their beading, either free form by applying stickers anywhere on the milk jug or you can draw string patterns for them to show where a bead or sticker would go.  If you like, you can talk about patterns of colors and different ways that patterns can be created.

Once your shekere is “beaded”, then add the filling. Fillings that create quieter shekeres are sand, salt, sugar, Q-tips, seed beads or tiny pasta such as pastina. Slightly louder shekeres can be made with fillings like paper clips, bird seed, rice, pony beads, or smaller beans such as lentils. Louder shekeres can be created by adding large dried macaroni, or beans, pebbles, larger beads or even jingle bells.

After filling your shekeres, seal the instrument with sturdy electrical tape by wrapping it around the lid and the top section of the plastic jug. This way the contents are secure inside, especially if working with younger children. If you can find colorful electrical tape, it adds a nice design element.

A HANDLE FOR YOUR SHEKERE
If you like, add colorful yarn or pipecleaners to create a handle for your milk jug shekere.

PLAYING TIPS
The shekere can be played like a rattle, simply shaking it around. It can also be held in one hand and then tapped on the other hand, like you might play a tambourine.

It can be tossed gently from one hand to the other. It can be played by tossing gently from one person to another and works well in a circle.

Some players “burp” their shekere.  They hold it in one hand and tap the bottom with the other hand.  On gourds, this creates not only a rattling but an “ah” sound. If you try this with your milk jug shekere, you’ll get a rattle and a tap, a nice percussive effect.

What other sounds can your sticker shekere make?  Explore it and find out.

Hear a shekere here:
http://www.dariamusic.com/shekere.php

Color a shekere online here:
http://www.dariamusic.com/color_Shekere.php

Check out this great traditional song from South Africa:
www.vimeo.com/dariamusic/here-come-our-mothers

SUPPLIES FOR THIS PROJECT
Plastic milk jug, (rinsed out, with lid)
Stickers (such as paper reinforcements or the little round stickers used to price items at garage sales).
Permanent Marker, if you wish to draw string patterns on the plastic jugs
Colorful yarn or string for handle
Filling for the shekere – such as bird seed, dried macaroni, beans, beads, rice, sugar, salt, paper clips or small pebbles.
Electrical tape – for sealing the instrument and keeping the content inside