Monday, April 18, 2011

Who's in Rabbit's House (part 3)

In Make Me Musical post 1 we read the story.  Click here to read part 1.
In post 2 we experienced each character through movement patterns and emotional expression. Click here to read about building characterization for the play in part 2.

Now....we're ready for the African orchestra.

As a group we sort through the giant collection of small percussion in my cupboards and learn which instruments are of african origin.

Xylophones are of african origin...metallophones are not!
Drums of many kinds are, of course, african in origin.
Shakers and hollowed instruments, thumb pianos are also of african origin.
Here is my humble collection!

Use all your big drums. I have 3 big drums and this is one of them.  On top of the conga you can see the "kids talking drum".  We spend time learning how to hold it and squeeze it to change the pitch."
thumb pianos - kalimba - interestingly, the round thumb piano is decorated with australian aboriginal design yet the tag when I bought it said it was made in Africa!

calabash and rabbit shaker

loop rattle and agogo bells made in Africa

Set up the xylophones in F pentatonic.  Take out the E's and B's (the Eggs & Bacon).  We did not specify exact bars to play.  I did specify the rhythm. (dotted quarter/eighth) 

I played the bass xylophone in a dotted quarter/eighth rhythm and other children and parents joined us to play this rhythm.  This is a fantastic rhythm to play while narrating the story.  I just play ever-so-lightly through almost the entire play and it creates an atmosphere of "Africa!"  

The small percussion are used creatively to make the sounds of the animals moving.
frog - hopping
jackal - running
elephant - stomping
leopard - leaping
rhino - chunky and charging
the long one - running (at the end of the story)
I let who ever is playing the small percussion decide how the sound will be made so it's entirely improvisational.  Small percussion players just play when their animal is moving.

The big drums are fantastic for the elephant sound but I don't insist on that if someone has an idea they'd prefer for the elephant.

I do ask that the big drums be played simultaneously in time with the words of the chant, "I am the Long One.  I eat leaves and trample on elephants.  Go away or I will trample on you!"

Tomorrow (part 4) I will have pictures of our masks.
It's not that easy to convey the simple complexity of this activity:)  Are you able to follow it?  I'm breaking it up into a series of posts so that each post is not miles long!  I hope it's useful/comprehensible!

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