Hello Tucson Songstress blog readers!
I am so excited to announce a new effort on my blog to all of you today! Below is a list of what I believe, as a music educator, is the Top 10 instruments under $40 that will help you to promote music in your home to your children. It drives me bonkers that the arts are the first to be cut in public school budgets, and I hear complaints from people all the time on how their children are missing out. Well, enough is enough! I am taking the bull by the horn, and I have decided to teach all of you how to bring music into your home. You do not need to be musicians to do this, and I intend on giving you all one activity a week, on my new tab, TOP 10 TUESDAYS, for you to try out with your children. Today, however, I am giving you all the Top 10 list and one activity per instrument just to get you going. Check back every Tuesday, for a great musical activity. Together, we will bring music into your home, and your children will develop a great musical understanding.
Best of luck to you all!
–The Tucson Songstress
(1) RHYTHM STICKS for $6.54
CLICK HERE to purchase for $6.54 through Amazon
Activity: Copy Cat Rhythm Game, For Ages 2 – 10
Learning beats and rhythms are an abstract concept that takes some children longer to learn than others. Parents, start by using the sticks to tap out a simple 4/4 time beat to your child: 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4 … over and over again. You can either tap the sticks together or tap them onto the floor. Pass the sticks to your child and have them copy the same rhythm.
Next, tap out a ¾ time beat (a waltz) with the sticks: 1-2-3, 1-2-3…over and over again. Pass the sticks to your child to give them a turn.
Time to increase the difficulty! Tap the sticks in the ¾ time rhythm, only this time, #1 & #2 beat should be played by tapping the sticks together and #3 beat should be played by tapping the sticks on the floor. Allow your child to copy your pattern.
Keep going! If your child is catching on quickly, develop as many patterns as you can. Tap beats on the floor, tap the sticks together, tap them to the sides of your body, tap the sticks over your head, tap them fast and tap them slow. This is like the game “Simon Says,” and as it becomes increasingly difficult, there are a lot of laughs and a lot of music learned! Enjoy!
(2) TRIANGLE for $7.13
CLICK HERE to purchase for $7.13 through Amazon
Activity: Counting Beats, Ages 4 – 8
Triangles are a great way to promote counting and applying it to music. A simple activity is to take a song (start with something slow), and to play the triangle on every 4th beat of a song with a 4/4 time rhythm.
(1-2-3-DING!) A great example is with “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” Here is a Youtube link to a slow and very sweet version of it.
Sit with your kiddo in front of the computer with your triangle, and empower them with their own instrument to add a pretty sound to this simple piece of music.
(3) RECORDER for $7.81
CLICK HERE to purchase for $7.81 through Amazon
Activity: Practicing Staccato and Legato, For School-aged Children, Best for 3rd – 5th Graders
The objective of this activity is for a child to be able to distinguish between short, detached sound tones (staccato) and sounds that connect to each other (legato).
First, sing staccato notes by singing fast sounds: “doot, doot, doot, doot, doot” over and over again. Your tongue will hit the back of your teeth as you make this sound. This is the same way to play staccato sounds on a recorder. Try it!
Here is an excellent Youtube link to a a great example of a staccato song on recorder: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6uUbcfj_A0
Now, sing slow “Doot, doot doot” notes that melt and blend together. They are long notes and sound very different from staccato notes. Try to mimic those sounds on the recorder.
Here is a great example of legato on recorder. This is a Youtube link to a piece of music by Grieg:
(4) SHAKER EGGS, $7.99 for a set of 4
CLICK HERE to purchase Shaker Eggs for $7.99 (set of 4) from Amazon
Activity: “I Know a Chicken” Tempo fun, Ages 0 – 5
Laurie Berkner is a wonderful children’s performer, and I highly recommend any of her music. Her song “I Know a Chicken” has an automatic lesson plan utilizing shaker eggs. Listen to the lyrics, and they will instruct any child to play the eggs to a fast tempo or a slow tempo. Here’s a Youtube link to the song:
(5) GUIRO for $10.95
CLICK HERE to purchase a Guiro for $10.95 from Amazon
Activity: Multicultural Music “Chicks and Salsa”, Ages 2 – 7
“Chicks and Salsa” is an adorable book by Aaron Reynolds that discusses what happens when the chicks get tired of eating chicken feed at Nuthatcher Farm. It is available at your local library or for purchase for $7.99 through Amazon.
This books gives the flavor of Southwestern culture through its delightful recipes for guacamole, salsa and others and lends itself to incorporating an instrument from that region, as well. A guiro comes from Puerto Rico, and so it is a perfect way to add extra multicultural enhancement to this already amusing tale.
Hand the guiro to your child and instruct them to scrape a rhythm with it every time a southwestern item or food is mentioned. At one point in the book, there is a Fiesta. When it is “fiesta” time, play a song with guiro and encourage your child to play along to the song. Dance and party it up and make it full of energy and fun! Here is a Youtube link to a great guiro song. See if you can spot the guiro! Use your listening ears!
(6) RAINSTICK (see-through) for $11.49
CLICK HERE to purchase a Rainstick for $11.49 from Amazon
Activity: Making a Rainstick and seeing how music works, Ages 3 – 10
Making instruments is a great way to get children involved and excited about music. I love rainsticks, because not only do they provide a sound from nature and lead to discussion about the environment, but they also can be used in multicultural lesson plans. Brazilian music often tries to incorporate sounds from the rainforest into their music.
Here is a great link to instructions on how to make an age-appropriate rainstick with your children. They will be proud of the product and excited to use it.
Rainstick craft: http://www.enchantedlearning.com/crafts/music/rainstick/
(7) HAND DRUM for $14.99
CLICK HERE to purchase a Hand Drum for $14.99 from Amazon Activity: Rhythm in the English Language, For school-aged children, Grades 1 – 5
Native Americans have been using drumming for all of their existence, and many American historians believe that the English language’s natural iambic pentameter is a result of this indigenous tradition. Adding a hand drum to tap out the beats of poetry is a great way to express this concept.
Grab a poetry book (Children always seem to love anything by Shel Silverstein) and have your children tap out the individual words on the drum as they read.
(8) Pitch Tube for $15
CLICK HERE to purchase a Pitch Tube for $15 from Music MotionActivity The Speed of Sound, School-aged children, Grades 1st – 5th
Music can lend itself to incredible scientific lesson plan. As we know, sound travels through air waves. A pitch tube is a perfect example of how sound travels. In fact, I bought my own pitch tube at the Explora Science Museum in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Pitch tubes are played by swinging in a circular motion and varying the speeds to get different pitches of sound. A word of advice: practice this activity outside in a big open space. Getting hit with the pitch tube does not feel good!
Children love this activity and always beg for several turns. Let ‘em go for it!
(9) COLORED HAND BELLS, $32.75 for 8 bells
CLICK HERE to purchase Colored Hand Bells for $32.75 (8 bells) from Amazon.Activity: Beginning reading through colors, Ages 3 – 10
The great thing about colored hand bells, is that each bell is assigned a color, so children don’t need to know how to read music to play a song. For instance, the notes to “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” will be color coded to the hand bells. The Amazon set listed above will come with an activity booklet with several songs and how to play them. For preschoolers, playing the colors is the very beginning steps to reading, and hearing that they played a melody is great motivation. Here’s a picture of the booklet, so you can get the idea of how it works.
(10) GLOCKENSPIEL with Case for $39.95
CLICK HERE to purchase a Glockenspiel with Case for $39.95 from Amazon.
Activity: Ages 3 – 10
I love the glockenspiel set listed above. Not only does it come in a handy hard case, but the open part of the case has a musical staff with magnetic notes. It is a great way to teach notation if you have a musical background, but if not, it is a great way to get your kiddos learning an association between notes and sound. Have your children place the magnets on the staff and then play the corresponding glockenspiel key to see what it sounds like. Encourage them to write pretty songs, rock ‘n roll songs, happy songs, angry songs, etc. It’s so much fun to see what the can come up with.