Most people associate making music with expressing yourself, having fun and making noise! Although its great fun to sing, dance and play an instrument, there are also many world traditions that use music to quiet the soul, to learn to listen and to encourage rest, sleep or meditation. Quiet time instruments or music are perfect for sharing with your children around naptime, bedtime or for a break during a busy day.
Originally, rainsticks were made from a special cactus whose long “arms” dried and fell to the ground. They were filled with seeds, beads or pebbles and as these tiny objects fell from one side of the cactus to the other, the sound that emerged was like a gentle rain or a quietly trickling stream. The sound of a rainstick (known in South America as palo de lluvia) is so peaceful and relaxing that it is often heard in meditation tapes or used as part of music therapy.
How do you play a rainstick? You turn it up-side-down or hold it at an angle so that the contents can flow from one end to the other. Notice the difference in sound when you hold it vertically or at an angle. You can also “shimmy” the rainstick gently as it flows or hold it horizontally and shake it like a rattle.
How can you use the rainstick as a quiet time instrument? “Play” the rainstick along with relaxing music until you feel like resting or try some of these games.
A class or group of children listen to rainstick while a teacher turns it over. When the last pebble falls, the first child with their hand up gets to be the new leader or wins that round.
Try the above game with the children’s eyes closed.
Try this game with young children at naptime in a preschool setting. After each child has a chance to play the rainstick, they lie down to rest. The teacher picks each student by seeing which one is waiting most quietly and giving them the first turns until everyone is ready to rest.
Use your own ideas and make up your own games or rainstick activities. Don’t have a rainstick? You can win one from DARIA’s world music for kids website or make your own version from simple, recycled materials, by checking out the links below.
The sound of the surf can be so soothing. And playing an ocean drum, can help you bring the quiet sound of ocean waves right into your classroom or home, creating a relaxing space to rest or refocus your energies.
What is an ocean drum? It’s a two-sided drum with clear material stretched over a round frame. Inside the drum are small round objects such as bee-bees or pebbles. As the drum is tilted back and forth, the tiny objects move across the head of the drum creating a sound remarkably like ocean waves gently breaking on a beach.
By holding the drum at different angles, the player can control how the waves move – quickly and enthusiastically or softly and quietly. Along with the repetitive sound, the look of the small objects moving back and forth can create a relaxing experience that is remarkably comforting for any child but one that is especially appreciated by children on the autistic spectrum.
Don’t have an ocean drum? You can make your own version from a shipping box. Find the simple instructions at the link below.
In the near future, we’ll do a detailed article on using these additional two instruments for relaxation and quiet time with small children. In the meantime, you can to find more general information and a “Make Your Own Tingsha” post at the links below.
During the month of May 2013, you can enter an easy rafflecopter sweepstakes to win an authentic rainstick made from a cactus by the Comparte Fair Trade group in Santiago, Chile. (Second Give-away on Page).
Make Your Own Rainstick
Make Your Own Ocean Drum
The Singing Bowl
Make Your Own Tinghsa
Here’s a project that’s easy to make and provides an opportunity to take time out of a busy day to play and have fun with a little one that you love.
What’s A Roly Poly Musical Thing?
Anything you want it to be! Start with any cylindrical container like these and gather a few supplies to decorate and fill them. Here’s a basic supply list.
Any recycled container that can roll.
Material to decorate: stickers, markers, colorful tape, etc.
Objects to fill: dried beans, rice, birdseed, jingle bells,
beads, buttons, macaroni, jingle bells, Q-tips, sand, salt, pebbles.
If your object is transparent – You may wish to add decorative objects that won’t change the sound but will add visual interest such as glitter, colorful puffballs or confetti.
Sturdy tape (such as electrical or duct tape) to seal the project.
Make Your Roly Poly Thing!
First clean and dry the container you’ll be using. Then decide how you’ll decorate. You can do this as a coloring project, add stickers or apply colorful tape.
Since you’ll be playing with this homemade toy by rolling it, remember that it can be fun to create designs that will be interesting when they are rolled back and forth, like changes in color, various stripes, patterns or wiggly lines or different stickers that might appear like different “faces” of the roly poly thing.
If your object is transparent, consider what you might put inside to make interesting patterns when the object is rolled.
Next, add the items that will create sound as your object rolls. Larger objects like dried pasta or large buttons make louder noises. Smaller items like sand or seed beads make a quiet “whooshing” sound.
Once you are pleased with the look and sound of your project, you can seal it up. Use a sturdy tape such as electric or duct tape and you’ll be ready to play.
There are lots of fun ways to play with a roly poly thing. Here are some of our favorite ways:
Roll between two hands on the floor
Roll between two hands on a tabletop or at a desk
Roll back and forth between two players on the floor
Roll back and forth in time to music
Roll back and forth in time to slow quiet music
Roll back and forth in time to fast-paced, up-tempo music
Roll back and forth while singing or counting
Roll back and forth, rolling when music plays, stopping when music stops.
Be creative and have fun!
Looking for songs to “roll” along to?
Play Along With Any OF DARIA’s Songs on her Youtube Channel
Around May Day, dancers in parts of England are getting ready to welcome the Spring by morris dancing. They dress in colorful costumes and the bright and happy morris dance music is punctuated by the jingling and jangling of special bells worn on the legs.
Since young children love to move and dance, making an easy version of this traditional “knee-pad” instrument can be a fun way to welcome a new season, to exercise and to explore world cultures.
Two short lengths of elastic of any width (about 10 – 14” long)
A handful of jingle bells
Any number of extra buttons, beads or similar jangles.
Assorted ribbons, yarns and embroidery thread
Needle and Thread
Start by cutting two pieces of elastic and making sure they can comfortably stretch around a child’s leg and sit just under the knee. Leave a bit of extra length for the elastic to overlap. This will be where you will sew or pin it in place.
Create the hanging jingles by threading a jingle bell on a small ribbon or piece or embroidery thread. Tie it onto the end and then add on any other buttons, beads or jangles that you like. When you’ve reached the desired length, tie it in place onto your elastic. Add as many of these as you like.
Add some ribbons or yarn to the morris bells. Sew or tie them into place. They may not add to the sound of your instrument, but they will move as you dance and add to the overall beauty of what you’ve created.
Last, sew or safety pin your morris bells to the right size for fitting around the leg of your child.
You can use this craft to explore the music of morris dancing or the general music of the British Isles. Or you can dance to any of your favorite songs. If you get a chance to see actual morris dancers, you’ll notice that both boys and girls participate in this dance tradition.
Although there are many different traditions of morris dancing, some also involve waving handkerchiefs, dressing up in wild clothes or having a parade – all fun activities to do to welcome the Spring.