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Musical Instruments Of Africa Portable Collections Program




Portable Collections Program Musical Instruments of Africa Table of Contents Checklist: What’s in the Case? –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 1 Information for the Teacher: ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 2 How to Handle and Look At Museum Objects African Music and Musical Instruments Information about the Objects in the Case Activities to Do with Your Students: –––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 8 1 Introductory Activity: Make Some Noise! 2 What Type of Instrument Is It? 3 Make a Percussion Instrument 4 Play With Rhythmic Patterns 5 Oboo Asi Me Nsa: Play a Musical Rhythm Game 6 Sing a Story 7 Additional Activities and Curricular Connections Resources and Reference Materials: ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 16 Vocabulary Words Correlations with New York State Learning Standards Corresponding Field Trips Bibliography and Web Resources ■ CHECKLIST: WHAT’S IN THE CASE? ■ What’s in the Case? Objects Struck bell and beater Thumb piano (Mbira) Kettledrum (Antakarana) Arm rattle Box rattle Basketry rattle Angle harp Resources The Singing Man: Adapted from a West African Folktale by Angela Shelf Medearis Let Your Voice Be Heard: Song from Ghana and Zimbabwe: Call and Response, Multipart, and Game Songs (with audio cassette) by Abraham Adzinyah Africa: The Music of a Continent (audio CD) by Various Artists “Musical Instruments of Africa” Image Slideshow (with audio cassette) MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS OF AFRICA 1 ■ INFORMATION FOR THE TEACHER ■ How to Handle Museum Objects How to Look at Museum Objects Learning to handle objects from the Museum’s permanent collection with respect can be part of your students’ educational experience of the case. Please share these guidelines with your class, and make sure your students follow them in handling objects in the case: Objects have the power to fascinate people with their mere physical presence. Holding an object in their hands forms a tangible link between your students, the folk artist who made it, and the artist’s homeland. This sense of physical connection makes it easier for students to think concretely about the ideas and concepts you introduce to them in your lessons. • Students may handle and play the instruments, carefully, under your supervision. Please make sure they do not play them roughly. Over time, sweat, body oils, and too much handling can adversely affect all of these objects, even those that seem sturdy. Many of these objects are not replaceable. • You may tighten the strings of the angle harp, but do so cautiously. Excess stress on the strings will rip the hide membrane to which they are attached. • Hold the instruments with two hands. Hold them by the solid part of the body or by the strongest area rather than by rims, edges or protruding parts. • Paint, feathers, fur and fibers are especially fragile and should be touched as little as possible. Remember that rubbing and finger oils can be damaging. Objects also have the power to tell us about their origins and purpose, provided we are willing to look at them in detail and think about what those details mean. Encourage your students to examine an object carefully, touch it gently and looking at its design and decoration. Have them describe its shape, size, and color. Ask them questions about what they see, and what that might tell them. For example: • How was the object made? What tools did the artist need? • What materials did the artist use? Where might he or she have gotten those materials? • How is the object decorated? What might the decorations mean? • What does the object tell you about the person or people who made it? • Temperature differences, direct sunlight, and water can be very harmful to certain objects. Please keep the objects away from radiators and open windows, and keep them secure. MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS OF AFRICA 2 ■ INFORMATION FOR THE TEACHER ■ African Music and Musical Instruments Traditional African music For thousands of years, music has been an integral part of everyday life in Africa. It has provided a constant background for work and play, an accompaniment to religion and ceremony, and a basic means of communication. Traditionally, children learned singing and clapping by imitating their parents as they sang stories and legends of important historical events and people. Other songs with morals taught children right and wrong. Music could also provide a way to resolve hostilities; both children and adults would often confront their enemies by means of mocking or insulting songs rather than aggressive face-to-face encounters. People of all ages worked while singing or listening to music. Farmers clearing a field for planting would sing or chant to provide a rhythm for their work. Herdsmen would sing or play an instrument to pass the lonely hours while tending their animals. Hunters celebrated a successful kill with elaborate ceremonies, dancing to reenact the hunt while an orchestra played in the background. Music was essential to other ceremonies as well, such as those marking birth, death, initiation into adulthood, marriage, and important political events. These rituals were often accompanied by singing, dancing, clapping, and drumming. One of the most common musical forms was “call and response,” in which a singer or instrument would lead the song and the rest of the choir or orchestra would answer, turning the song into a back-and-forth dialogue. Percussion and background rhythms were often provided by drums, gongs, and rattles. Since songs were not usually written down, African musical styles encouraged a great deal of improvisation and imagination. Each musician or orchestra would have its own interpretation. A song might be played a hundred times, with each performer adding his or her variations to the words, melody, or rhythm. African music today Traditional music captures the beat of everyday life in Africa. But as the political, economic, and social realities of life in Africa have changed, its music has, too, especially throughout the twentieth century and into the twenty-first. In rural areas, some traditional music is still performed for the purposes described above, as well as for magical ceremonies to promote rain, healing, and good luck. All of these rituals are accompanied by elaborate preparations and costumes, and often turn into contests between the participants. Traditional orchestras and elaborately costumed dancers also sometimes perform during political events or state visits from important guests. But with the increasing industrialization and urbanization of Africa, the population’s knowledge of and interest in traditional music and instruments has declined. Many young people have turned away from native music, more interested in Western rock and roll. Fortunately, some interested Africans and outsiders have kept alive the traditional knowledge that makes African music unique. These scholars, musicians, and activists have worked to preserve native music by recording performances, writing songs down in musical notation, and photographing events. Their interest encourages remaining traditional musicians to practice their art and pass it on to the next ▲ MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS OF AFRICA 3 ■ INFORMATION FOR THE TEACHER ■ African Music and Musical Instruments (continued) generation. Through their work, all of these people have built international interest in African music and helped maintain Africa’s traditional musical heritage for Africans and the rest of the world. However, it is important to realize that while traditional African music is worth preserving, contemporary musical styles also deserve admiration and praise. Many musicians have taken traditional elements and reworked them by adding Western instruments, adopting different vocal techniques, and using the latest sound mixing technology. They have also incorporated aspects of musical styles from around the world. African music has come full circle. Many American musical styles came out of the music brought to the New World by African slaves, including jazz, the blues, gospel, rock and roll, rap, and hip-hop, along with many Latin and Caribbean beats. Those musical forms (among others) now inspire and influence modern African musicians. Through the process of borrowing from other cultures and experimenting with their own, these contemporary musicians have created a new sound that is still rooted in the rich musical traditions of their past. Types of African musical instruments One way to provide your students with an overview of musical instruments in Africa is to talk about the four representative categories of instruments: aerophones, chordophones, mebranophones, and idiophones. These categories can be used to organize all musical instruments, not only those from Africa. Aerophones are wind instruments, meaning that they are caused to sound by blowing air through them. People all over Africa make a variety of flutes, whistles, simple trumpets and horns. However, for health reasons, aerophones are not represented in this case. Chordophones are stringed instruments, which are caused to sound by plucking, strumming, or bowing. Common African chordophones include zithers, lyres, folk lutes, and musical bows (a single string attached to a flexible stick). The angle harp in the case is also a chordophone. Membranophones are instruments that have a membrane (usually made of animal or reptile skin) stretched over a resonator (also called a soundbox). The most common membranophone is the drum, which may be played by striking its membrane with the hand or a beater. Africa is home to many different drum types, including cylindrical drums, barrel drums, waisted drums, footed drums, and goblet drums. Musicians in Africa also play several varieties of a less common membranophone called a mirliton, in which sound is produced by blowing or singing against a membrane instead of striking it (the kazoo is a familiar example). The kettledrum (or antakarana) in the case is a membranophone. Idiophones are instruments that vibrate as a whole when they are played, and which are caused to sound by striking or shaking. Common idiophones from Africa include bells, rattles, jingles, gongs, xylophones, clappers, scrapers, and thumb pianos. This category is represented in the case by the struck bell, the thumb piano (mbira), the box rattle, the ankle rattle, and the basketry rattle. ▲ MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS OF AFRICA 4 ■ INFORMATION FOR THE TEACHER ■ African Music and Musical Instruments (continued) Another important musical instrument in the African repertoire is the human body, which fits into several of the categories above. People may create a melody or harmony line by singing, or add percussion to a song by clapping their hands, slapping their thighs, pounding the upper arms and chest, and stamping or shuffling their feet. Known as “body percussion,” these movements have traditionally been incorporated into the routines of dancers, who perform solo or in groups, maneuvering in circles and line formations in time to the music. Materials then and now Musical instruments are made from whatever materials are commonly available. In the past, that included primarily natural materials, such as wood, bamboo, clay, stone, seeds, gourds, reeds, palm leaves, calabashes, animal horns, tusks, bones, and hides, snake skins, and tortoise shell. Modern instruments may incorporate these materials where possible, but are often made instead from recycled materials, such as old oil drums, tin cans, wire, and roofing metal. These materials are used both by traditional musicians who make their own instruments, and by enterprising craftsmen who turn out traditional instruments like thumb pianos en masse for the tourist market. ❑ Words in boldface have been included in the Vocabulary Words section on page 16. MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS OF AFRICA 5 ■ INFORMATION FOR THE TEACHER ■ Information About the Objects in the Case STRUCK BELL AND BEATER (Object No. 68.26.4) This iron bell has no clapper on the inside, so it must be struck from the outside with a beater to make a sound. Struck bells are most common in East Asia, but are also made in parts of Africa. This particular bell comes from Cameroon, and is rather plain compared to other bells from that part of the world. Some struck bells from West Africa have fancy handles featuring human figures, while others are made in pairs connected with a curved handle. Like other bells, struck bells are idiophones. When playing this instrument, it is important to hold it by the handle and not to touch the resonating chamber. This will deaden the sound and should be done only for special effect. THUMB PIANO (MBIRA) (Object No. 98.8.4) Made in Zimbabwe, this instrument is known as a thumb piano, or mbira (another common name for it in other parts of Africa is the sansa). Although it is called a “piano,” this instrument does not have any strings and is not a chordophone; instead, it is an idiophone. Thumb pianos originated in Africa as early as 1000 B.C.E. Originally they were made of plant materials such as raffia, palm rib, cane, or bamboo, but gradually they came to have metal parts, too, as iron technology became widespread. Africans brought the thumb piano to the New World, where it is found in parts of Central and South America, but it is still primarily an African instrument. Thumb pianos are played alone or as part of an ensemble by minstrels, travelers, or other performers. Often a performer will play for his own enjoyment or for group entertainment, and occasionally for religious ceremonies. is how this instrument came to be called the thumb piano). In general, the pitch of the note produced depends on the length of the tongue; the longer the tongue, the deeper the pitch it makes when plucked. KETTLEDRUM (ANTAKARANA) (Object No. 98.8.2) The antakarana is a kettledrum from Madagascar, an island nation off the east coast of Africa. Women and young men play the antakarana for recreation and entertainment. This instrument also performs as an accompaniment to dances and songs during family events, such as circumcisions or funerals. The antakarana is made from a piece of animal hide laced over the top of a clay bowl (its name means “drum on a cooking pot”). With its shallow depth, it resembles drums from India and the island of Java, and shows the influence of Asian drum forms in Madagascar. Drums provide the rhythm and structure for most African music. They come in many sizes and are made from a variety of materials, such as wood, metal, or ceramic. Drums are membranophones. Each drum has a resonator (the hollow body of the drum) and one or two heads (the membrane of the drum, which is struck to create sound). The heads are often made from animal skins, with the hair left on for decoration. MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS OF AFRICA 6 ▲ A thumb piano player holds the instrument in his or her hands or rests it on the lap, and plucks the metal or wooden tongues, usually with the thumbs (which ■ INFORMATION FOR THE TEACHER ■ Information About the Objects in the Case (continued) ARM RATTLE (Object No. 98.8.1) ANGLE HARP (Object No. 2005.11) Arm and ankle rattles are found throughout Africa. Usually these idiophones are worn by dancers as they perform during ceremonies or for entertainment. The rattles sound as the dancers leap and sway, providing a musical accompaniment to their rhythmic movements. This Nigerian example is made of brass, but rattles worn on the body may be made from many different materials, including shells, beads, seed pods, and even insect pupae. The angle harp is a chordophone common in central Africa. It gets its name from the shape of its neck, which rises up from the body at a perpendicular angle. Folk harps like this one are played for both ceremonial and recreational purposes. Minstrels (such as West African griots) often play the harp to accompany their singing, but it may also be played as a solo instrument or with an orchestra. The earliest known angle harp was made in Sumeria around 3100 B.C.E. It was also played by ancient Assyrians and Egyptians. Today angle harps are only found in Africa and in the former Soviet republic of Georgia. Arm rattles are often made in graduated sizes so that several of them may be worn at the same time on different places along the arm. On some other instruments, like this one, the size may be adjusted so the rattle will fit any part of the wearer’s arm. BOX RATTLE (Object No. 81.14.1b) Box rattles are a popular rhythm instrument in Cameroon. The player holds the rattle in one hand and shakes it hard or gently to produce a loud or soft sound. This rattle is made of reeds that have been split, cut to size, and formed into a box. Small pebbles or seeds inside the rattle cause the instrument to sound when shaken. Like other rattles, the box rattle is an idiophone. Angle harps are played with the resonator (sound box) held upright against the player’s body. This angle harp has a boat-shaped wooden resonator, which is covered with an animal hide membrane. The instrument has four strings attached to small pegs in the neck. The performer tunes the instrument (raisse or lowers the pitch of each string) by carefully turning these pegs. You can learn more about these instruments and other objects from around the world by visiting our Collections Central Online database at On the “search” screen, enter the object numbers above to find those objects, or have your students look for other examples of African instruments. BASKETRY RATTLE (Object No. 81.14.2a) Made by the Zulu people of South Africa, this woven basketry rattle would be played to accompany music and dancing performed for ceremonies or for entertainment. The rattle is woven from straw and filled with pebbles or beans that make noise when it is shaken. Basketry rattles are made in parts of both Africa and the Americas. They are a type of idiophone. MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS OF AFRICA 7 ACTIVITY 1 Introductory Activity: Make Some Noise! All Grades Africa is a continent of many countries, climates and peoples, but throughout the land music is a major part of daily life. Hundreds of different instruments may be combined in an infinite number of ways to create unique melodies, harmonies, and rhythms. As your students prepare to learn more about the instruments in the case, it is important to remind them that they already possess the most common instrument in the African orchestra: the human body! Along with singing, people from all over Africa also boast an amazing repertoire of “body percussion.” You and your students can begin to make music like them by simply clapping their hands, slapping your thighs, or stamping your feet! Materials: • Just yourselves! What To Do: 1 Gather your students in a circle. Discuss how the human body may be used as an instrument (see Discussion Questions below). 2 Have each child come up with a different sound. They may use their mouth, hands, feet, or any other part of their bodies (examples: clapping hands, slapping thighs or chest, stamping feet, whistling, hooting, or shouting). Encourage them to use their imaginations! 3 When each student has chosen a sound, go around the circle quickly, with each student repeating his or her noise so that you all can hear how the noises sound in combination. 4 Mix it up! Try having students make their noises as you point at them in turn. Move back and forth around the circle to create different patterns or “melodies.” 5 Introduce rhythm into the mix by varying how long you point at each student. Have students repeat their sounds continuously until you point to the next child. 6 Create unique harmonies by pointing at two students at once, having them overlap their sounds. 7 Conduct the children in a “rhythm symphony” as you create a variety of interesting patterns! Discussion Questions: • When you make music by singing or clapping, what instrument are you using? • What are some other ways you can make musical sounds using parts of your body? • Have students name some musical instruments with which they are familiar. How do these instruments make sound? Talk with students about instruments that make sounds by having air blown into them, by being plucked or bowed, and by being struck, shaken, or scraped. Older students may be able to classify the instruments they know (as outlined in the next activity). • What role does music play in your life? Do you make music yourself by singing or playing an instrument? Where do you hear music? What kind of music do you like to listen to? See page 17 for details on how this activity meets New York State Learning Standards. MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS OF AFRICA 8 ACTIVITY 2 What Type of Instrument Is It? 4 Remind the students about how to handle the objects according to museum guidelines. Grades 3–5 Related Objects: All This activity encourages your students to observe the instruments in the case very closely in order to classify each instrument and relate it to the environment in which it was made. Ask the students to focus on the physical properties of each instrument, which may yield clues about which category of instrument it belongs to and where it was made. Materials: • A copy of the “What Type of Instrument Is It?” chart for each student, OR a transparency of the chart and an overhead projector, OR a large piece of chart paper. • “Musical Instruments of Africa” audio tape What To Do: 1 Start with a discussion: Tell the students that the instruments in the case represent three of the four categories of instrument that can be found not only in Africa but throughout the world. Those categories are aerophones (flutes, horns, trumpets, and whistles), chordophones (harps, lyres, lutes, and guitars), membranophones (drums with skins), and idiophones (bells, rattles, gongs, and thumb pianos). (See page 5 for more information about these categories of instruments.) 2 Create several stations in the classroom. Place one or more of the instruments at each station. 3 Use one instrument and the observation chart to demonstrate how to observe and describe an object, and how to record what you have seen. Talk about the shape and sound of the instrument, the material from which it is made, and its decoration (if any). 5 Divide the students into groups and have them go from station to station observing the objects and filling out their charts. Alternatively, you can do this activity as a class, looking at the instruments in turn and filling out the chart using an overhead projector or large chart paper. Discussion Questions: • Some instruments are easy to classify, but some are tricky. Discuss the student’s classifications. What characteristics put the instruments in one group or another? (Be aware that membranophones and idiophones comprise a broader category of percussion instruments, and that thumb “pianos” are not chordophones.) • Have your students close their eyes while you play an instrument from the case, and see if they can identify it by sound alone. • Listen to the “Musical Instruments of Africa” audio tape in the case, which demonstrates the sounds made by the different types of instruments. How do your students describe the differences? • As a group, have the students name all the materials from which the instruments are made. What do these materials have in common? Are there other natural materials not represented in the list that can be used to make music? Why aren’t these instruments made from those materials, too? See page 17 for details on how this activity meets New York State Learning Standards. MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS OF AFRICA 9 What can objects tell me? Look at each instrument carefully. How does it make sound? Put an X in the category where you think it belongs. What type of instrument is not found in the case? _________________________________________________ Object What materials is Aerophone Chordophone Membranophone Idiophone this instrument made of? ADORNMENTS FROM HEAD TO TOE ACTIVITY 3 Make a Percussion Instrument Grades 2– 4 Related Objects: Kettledrum (Antakarana), arm rattle, box rattle, basketry rattle One of the most common elements of the music of many African nations is percussion. Percussion instruments are a type of instrument that is beaten or struck to create sound. They often mark the tempo of a song, and usually include membranophones and idiophones (though people may also create “body percussion” by clapping their hands or stamping their feet, for example). Since percussion instruments do not necessarily need to maintain a certain pitch, they are much easier to make than tuned instruments like harps or thumb pianos. The three instruments described below are simple and fun to make, and can be used to complete other activities in this guide. 3 Have students decorate the exterior of their shakers with paint or decoupage. Scrapers: 1 If their beverage bottles are smooth, your students will need to give them ridges. Have them wrap several thin sections of wire around the bottle’s center, with about half an inch of space between each section. (If a beverage bottle already has ridges on it, all it requires is decoration.) 2 Have students place brightly colored tissue paper inside the bottle, or paint the top and bottom sections of the exterior (away from the ridges). 3 Students may play their scrapers by running a pencil up and down the ridges. Materials: Drums: • Containers (such as metal or sturdy plastic cans, or ceramic flower pots) of different sizes • Uninflated balloons (one per student), cut to fit over the head of the each child’s container • Large rubber bands, twine, and raffia (optional) Rattles: • Paper cups • Dried peas, beans, or rice Scrapers: • Plastic beverage bottles (labels removed) • Wire • Glue and colorful collage materials or paint to decorate the outside of the instruments What To Do: Drums: 1 Have each student choose a container, and work with the students to stretch the balloons over the open end of their containers. Secure the balloon with a large rubber band. 2 If desired, they may tie twine or raffia around the drum to cover the rubber band. 3 Pass out collage materials or paints for students to decorate the outside of their drums. Rattles: 1 Have your students fill one paper cup halfway with dried peas, beans, or rice. Discussion Questions: • What is a membranophone? What is an idiophone? What type of instrument did you make? What other percussion instruments can you think of? • What are the three ways a percussion instrument can be played? (Struck, shaken, or scraped) • What role does percussion play in making music? Is it always in the background, or can it provide the melody as well? See page 17 for details on how this activity meets New York State Learning Standards. 2 Then they should turn the second cup upside down to make a lid for the first cup, and tape the two cups firmly together. MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS OF AFRICA 11 ACTIVITY 4 Play With Rhythmic Patterns Grades 2–5 Related Objects: Kettledrum (Antakarana), arm rattle, box rattle, basketry rattle How can a group of percussion instruments play together without sounding like a bunch of meaningless noise? The trick is to establish a steady beat and have each instrument play a rhythm that follows it. Try these easy patterns with your class using the instruments in the case, or instruments your students have made themselves. Students will learn how rhythmic patterns are produced and combined to make music using mathematical thinking. Materials: • Percussion instruments from the case OR percussion instruments made in the previous activity What To Do: 1 Try these patterns in roughly the following order. You should start out as the leader, but once the class has gotten the hang of each pattern, try letting a student lead. 2 Call and response: The leader plays a rhythm on one instrument, and everybody else plays the same rhythm in reply. 3 Question and answer: In pairs, one person plays a rhythm (the “question”) and their partner plays a different rhythm (the “answer”) in reply. 4 Together beat: The leader repeats a rhythm over and over. Everyone else joins in only on every third, fourth, or fifth beat. 5 Conductor: The leader acts as “conductor” and signals other players to join in, drop out, play louder or softer, or go slower or faster. 6 Concentration: Divide the class into three groups— drums, rattles, and scrapers. Then give each group one line to play, based on a four-beat pattern: Beat Drums: Shakers: Scrapers: 1 Ta Ti-ti Ti-ti 2 Ta Ti-ti Ta 3 Ta Ti-ti Ti-ti 4 Ta Ti-ti Ta Write these patterns on the board, and count out loud as each section practices its pattern individually. When each group knows its rhythm, have all three groups play at the same time. 7 Once the students have completed this last exercise, encourage each group make up its own four-beat rhythm and have the three groups play all together again. Discussion Questions: • Have students evaluate how they performed in their groups and as a class. Did they follow each pattern as it was established? Were they able to maintain a steady beat? In the last activity, were they able to play their own group’s rhythm, or did they unintentionally start following the rhythm of another group? See page 17 for details on how this activity meets New York State Learning Standards. MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS OF AFRICA 12 ACTIVITY 5 Oboo Asi Me Nsa: Play a Musical Rhythm Game and third beats, and pass the rock to the neighbor on their right on the second and fourth beats. For example: If a student does not have a rock, he or she simply mimics the same motions empty-handed. Grades 1–5 Related Objects: Kettledrum (Antakarana), arm rattle, box rattle, basketry rattle Music is a vital part of everyday life in Africa, even for the very young. Children learn to sing and keep rhythm by observing their parents and elders. Many children’s games allow them to practice these skills. We have adapted the following activity from Oboo Asi Me Nsa, a well-known Ghanaian children’s rhythm game found on pages 14–16 of Let Your Voice Be Heard! Songs from Ghana and Zimbabwe (included in the case). The book includes several other game songs you might try in addition to or instead of this one. Materials: • Let Your Voice Be Heard! Songs from Ghana and Zimbabwe book and audio tape • One or more rocks, balls, beanbags, or other small objects to be passed around during the game • Percussion instruments from the case OR percussion instruments made in the previous activity What To Do: 1 Write the words to Oboo Asi Me Nsa on the board, along with their pronunciations (found on page 15 of Let Your Voice Be Heard!). 5 Pass out a rock (or several), and start singing and playing the game! 6 Although this is a game emphasizing accuracy and group cooperation, it can also be played competitively. If a player makes a mistake in the pattern, he or she can be eliminated from the circle. So can any players who throw rocks or place them out of their neighbors’ reach (whether deliberately or on accident). 7 Once everyone has the general idea, try speeding up the tempo of the song or adding different actions to the song to keep the players on their toes. For example, eliminate one of the motions and replace it with a handclap, so that the order of the actions becomes tap, pass, tap, clap! Substitute these actions as many times and as often as you like. 8 Players who are eliminated can sit on the sidelines and play their percussion instruments in time with the beat of the song. Discussion Questions: 2 Practice chanting the words out loud with the class. 3 Play the song from the audio tape. Now try singing the words along with the tape. Practice until you and the class can sing the song by yourselves, without the audio tape. 4 Have the class sit close together in a circle on the floor, and teach your students the motions for the game. (The object of the game is to pass one or more rocks counterclockwise around the circle, but it is easiest to practice the motions before giving them anything to pass.) In a four-beat pattern, the students pick up the rock and tap it the ground on the first • How did singing the song help you keep track of the rhythm of the game? Did it make passing the rock easier or harder? • Do you play rhythm games with your friends? What kind? (Examples: chanting or singing while performing hand-clap patterns or jumping rope.) • What lessons do these rhythm games emphasize? (Examples: accuracy, cooperation, paying attention.) See page 17 for details on how this activity meets New York State Learning Standards. Beat 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 Words: Oboo asi me nsa, nana, Oboo asi me nsa—————. Pronunciation: Obwah see me sah, nah-nah, Obwah see me sah—————. Action: Tap Pass Tap Pass Tap Pass Tap MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS OF AFRICA 13 4 Pass ACTIVITY 6 Sing a Story All Grades Related Objects: All Africa has a rich storytelling tradition. Travelling minstrels (known as griots in West Africa, though they have other names in different parts of the continent) go from village to village, playing harps and other instruments, and entertaining their audiences with legends and folktales told in a combination of story and song. We have adapted the following activity from Zangaiwa Chakatanga Pano, a Ghanaian story song found on pages 37–41 of Let Your Voice Be Heard! Songs from Ghana and Zimbabwe (included in the case). The book includes several other story songs you might try in addition to or instead of this one. Materials: • Let Your Voice Be Heard! Songs from Ghana and Zimbabwe book and audio tape • The Singing Man by Angela Shelf Medearis (optional) • Instruments from the case OR percussion instruments made in the previous activity (optional) What To Do: 1 Optional: Read The Singing Man aloud to your students to introduce them to the role of storytellers in West African society. 2 Write the words to Zangaiwa Chakatanga Pano on the board, along with their pronunciations (found on page 38 of Let Your Voice Be Heard!). 3 Chant the Leader’s line out loud for the class, and have your students practice chanting the Group line back to you in response. 5 Read your class the story of “The Boy and the Tree of the Animals” (found on page 40). Pause where marked in the text, and lead the class in singing Zangaiwa Chakatanga Pano. Make sure to sing it at the story’s ending, too! 6 If you like, your students may play their percussion instruments softly as they sing, to help keep the beat. Alternatively, they may make up sounds or actions to accompany different parts of the story. Discussion Questions: • What would the story of “The Boy and the Tree of the Animals” have been like if there was no song to go with it? How did the song add to your experience of the story? • Discuss how people in the U.S. tell stories using a combination of words and music. For example, encourage students to draw parallels between a griot’s tale and musical theater, both of which tell stories in words and music. • Is it possible to tell a story while singing all the words? Can you name some American examples of stories told entirely in song? (Classic examples include “The Star-Spangled Banner,” “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” and “My Darling Clementine,” but there are plenty of modern rock and rap examples, too, such as “Leader of the Pack,” “Love Potion No. 9,” “Parents Just Don’t Understand,” and “I Missed the Bus.”) See page 17 for details on how this activity meets New York State Learning Standards. 4 Play the song from the audio tape. Now try singing the words along with the tape. Practice until you and the class can sing the song by yourselves, without the audio tape. MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS OF AFRICA 14 ACTIVITY 7 Additional Activities and Curricular Connections Music has been called a universal language. Certainly it is one with instant appeal for children, and which they can appreciate across cultural boundaries. All over the world but particularly in Africa, music is closely tied to cultural practices. Therefore, music in Africa offers a good starting point not only for music and art curricula, but also connections with topics in social studies, literacy, geography, and even science. The activities and resources in this guide are all intended to give you some ideas for incorporating African instruments into your curriculum. They are only meant to provide a starting point, though. We have included a matrix detailing how each activity connects to current New York State Learning Standards (see page 16), but there are many more connections you could make with other content areas. You and your students together can determine how and where you wish this curriculum to go. Arts: Musical comparisons Grades 3–5 Choose two tracks from the CD Africa: The Music of a Continent (one should be marked “traditional,” while the other should be contemporary) and have students listen to each song carefully. Then have them compare and contrast the two songs based on what type of instruments they heard in each one, what the singing (if any) sounded like, what percussion techniques they heard (if any), and so on. Arts: Explore African art All Grades Show students (or have older students research) examples of appropriate African artistic motifs or symbols to use in decorating the instruments they make. Arts and English Language Arts: Write a story song Grades 2–5 After your students learn and perform a story song from Let Your Voice Be Heard! (or as an alternative to working from that book), have them write their own stories and put them to music. They may make up the melody as they go, or frame their words to fit a tune they already know. Have them perform their original works before the class. English Language Arts: Word play All Grades Have students brainstorm as many different words or phrases for musical instruments as they can. Encourage older students to move from more general words (like “drum” or “wind instrument”) to more specific words (such as “bongo” or “clarinet”). Social Studies: Geography Grades 2–5 Have students cut out copies of the instrument images from pages 6–7 of this guide and pin them to a world map, either on the country where that instrument was made (if known) or on the area where the instrument type was originally made. Social Studies: Cross-cultural comparisons Grades 3–5 Have students identify and research musical instruments from their own culture or other world cultures, and classify them as one of the four types of instruments identified in this guide (aerophone, chordophone, membranophone, or idiophone). Working individually or in groups, they may write their research up into a report or create an oral presentation for the class. Science: How sound is produced Grades 2–5 Use the instruments in the case to introduce your students to the scientific concepts behind music. Explain to students how an instrument produces vibration and sound as it is played. Demonstrate how that sound changes pitch when the player plucks different strings on the angle harp or plays different keys on the thumb piano. For more ideas on activities to supplement this lesson, visit sci5fq2?view=get. See page 17 for details on how these activities meet New York State Learning Standards. MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS OF AFRICA 15 ■ RESOURCES AND REFERENCE MATERIALS ■ Vocabulary Words aerophone: a wind instrument, which is caused to sound by blowing air through it. Flutes, trumpets, horns and clarinets are examples of aerophones. beat: a pattern of evenly spaced, rhythmic accents used to keep time in a song. chord: percussion: a type of instrument (or group of instruments in a band) that is beaten or struck to create sound. Percussion instruments often mark the tempo of a song, and usually include membranophones and idiophones. People may also create body percussion by clapping their hands or stamping their feet, for example. a combination of two or more musical notes that blend harmoniously when played together. pitch: how high or low a tone is. chordophone: resonator: a hollow chamber in a musical instrument that increases its ability to sound (and therefore its volume). Also known as a sound box. a stringed instrument, which is caused to sound by plucking, strumming, or bowing the strings. The arched harp in the case is a chordophone. Guitars, lutes, fiddles, and zithers are other examples of chordophones. clapper: rhythm: an organized pattern of accented and unaccented tones or silences that carries music forward. a piece of wood or metal hung inside a bell. When the bell is rung, the clapper strikes the sides of the bell and makes it sound. tempo: griot: tone: a traveling singer and storyteller from West Africa. a musical sound produced by an instrument or the human voice. harmony: a series of musical notes that, when played at the same time as the melody, create chords. how fast or slow a song is. head: a membrane stretched across one end of a drum, which is struck to create sound. tongue: a piece of metal, wood, or another material that is attached to a musical instrument (such as a thumb piano) and resonates when plucked. Known as a tongue because, like an animal’s tongue, it is long and fastened only at one end. idiophone: vibration: an instrument that vibrates as a whole when it is played, and which is caused to sound by striking or shaking. Bells and rattles are examples of idiophones, as are gongs, xylophones, and cymbals. in musical instruments, vibration is how sound is produced. When a string is plucked or a bell is struck, the tiny particles it is made out of move back and forth rapidly (but often so slightly as to be invisible), creating sound waves that the human ear interprets as a musical tone. melody: the tune of a song. For more vocabulary ideas, see the “Word play” extension activity on page 15. membranophone: an instrument that has a membrane (often made of animal skin) stretched over a resonator. The most common membranophone is the drum, but mirlitons (such as the kazoo) are also membranophones; their membranes vibrate and create sound when air is blown across them. MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS OF AFRICA 16 ■ RESOURCES AND REFERENCE MATERIALS ■ Correlations with New York State Learning Standards New York State Learning Standard Performance Indicators (Elementary Level) Activity Standard Area Standard # 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Subject Letter Students will Arts 1 Theater b Imitate experiences through pantomime, play making, dramatic play, story dramatization, story telling, and role playing Arts 1 Music a Create short pieces consisting of sounds from a variety of traditional, electronic, and nontraditional sound sources • • Arts 1 Music b Sing songs and play instruments, maintaining tone quality, pitch, rhythm, tempo, and dynamics; perform the music expressively; and sing or play simple repeated pattern with familiar songs, rounds, partner songs, and harmonizing parts • • • • • Arts 1 Music e Identify and use, in individual and group experiences, some of the roles, processes, and actions used in performing and composing music of their own and others • • Arts 1 Visual Arts a Experiment and create art works, in a variety of mediums, based on a range of individual and collective experiences Arts 2 Music a Use classroom and nontraditional instruments in performing and creating music Arts 2 Music b Construct instruments out of material not commonly used for musical instruments Arts 2 Music d Identify the various settings in which they hear music and the various resources that are used to produce music during a typical week • Arts 2 Music e Demonstrate appropriate audience behavior, including attentive listening, in a variety of musical settings in and out of school • • • • • Arts 2 Music f Discuss ways that music is used by various members of the community • • • Arts 3 Music a Through listening, identify the strengths and weaknesses of specific musical works and performances, including their own and others Arts 3 Music b Describe the music in terms related to basic elements such as melody, rhythm, harmony, dynamics, timbre, form, style, etc. • Arts 3 Music c Discuss the basic means by which the voice and instruments can alter pitch, loudness, duration, and timbre • Arts 3 Music d Describe the music's context in terms related to its social and psychological functions and settings (e.g., roles of participants, effects of music, uses of music with other events or objects, etc.) • • Arts 4 Music c Identify the primary cultural, geographical, and historical settings for the music they listen to and perform • • • MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS OF AFRICA 17 • • • • • • • • • • • • • ■ RESOURCES AND REFERENCE MATERIALS ■ Correlations with New York State Learning Standards New York State Learning Standard Performance Indicators (Elementary Level) Activity Standard Area Standard # Subject 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1 English Language Arts Listening & Reading Gather and interpret information from children's reference books, magazines, textbooks, electronic bulletin boards, audio and media presentations, oral interviews, and from such forms as charts, graphs, maps, and diagrams • ELA 1 Listening & Reading Select information appropriate to the purpose of their investigation and relate ideas from one text to another • ELA 1 Listening & Reading Ask specific questions to clarify and extend meaning ELA 1 Speaking & Writing Present information clearly in a variety of oral and written forms such as summaries, paraphrases, brief reports, stories, posters, and charts • ELA 1 Speaking & Writing Select a focus, organization, and point of view for oral and written presentations • ELA 1 Speaking & Writing Use details, examples, anecdotes, or personal experiences to explain or clarify information ELA 2 Speaking & Writing Create their own stories, poems, and songs using the elements of the literature they have read and appropriate vocabulary ELA 4 Speaking & Writing Listen attentively and recognize when it is appropriate for them to speak • • • • • • • ELA 4 Speaking & Writing Take turns speaking and respond to other's ideas in conversations on familiar topics • • • • • • • ELA 4 Speaking & Writing Recognize the kind of interaction appropriate for different circumstances, such as story hour, group discussions, and one-on-one conversations • • • • • • • Social Studies 2 Study about different world cultures and civilizations focusing on their accomplishments, contributions, values, beliefs, and traditions Social Studies 2 Understand the roles and contributions of individuals and groups to social, political, economic, cultural, scientific, technological, and religious practices and activities • • Social Studies 2 Explore the lifestyles, beliefs, traditions, rules and laws, and social/cultural needs and wants of people during different periods in history and in different parts of the world • • • Social Studies 3 Study about how people live, work, and utilize natural resources Social Studies 3 Gather and organize geographic information from a variety of sources and display in a number of ways Health & Physical Education 1 Physical Education Letter Students will Demonstrate mastery of fundamental motor, non-locomotor, and manipulative skills, and understand fundamental principles of movement MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS OF AFRICA 18 • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • ■ RESOURCES AND REFERENCE MATERIALS ■ Corresponding Field Trips Bibliography & Web Resources The following museums and organizations have exhibits or programs related to African music or musical instruments. Check with each for details. Then do a treasure hunt through the African exhibit galleries to find examples of musical instruments, art that depicts musical instruments, or objects related to African music (such as masks or costumes worn during dances and ceremonies in which music plays a part). The following books and websites have provided valuable source material for this guide and may also help you to enrich your experience with the objects in the case. American Museum of Natural History Central Park West at 79th Street, Manhattan (212) 769-5100 Brincard, Marie-Therese. Sounding Forms: African Musical Instruments. New York: The American Federation of Arts, 1989. Dagan, Esther A., ed. Drums: The Heartbeat of Africa. Montreal: Galerie Amrad African Art Publications, 1993. DjeDje, Jacqueline Cogdell, ed. Turn Up the Volume! A Celebration of African Music. Hong Brooklyn Museum 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn (718) 638-5000 Kong: University of California Los Angeles Fowler Museum Publications, 1999. Los Angeles County Museum of Art: “The Heritage of African Music.” Written for children, Metropolitan Museum of Art 1000 Fifth Avenue, Manhattan (212) 535-7710 this site includes good contextual information and vocabulary words. Museum for African Art 36-01 43rd Avenue, 3rd Floor, Queens (718) 784-7700 NYPL Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture 515 Malcolm X Boulevard, Manhattan (212) 491-2200 The Brooklyn Children’s Museum also offers programs on a variety of cross-cultural topics. For a listing of programs currently available, please see our website at, or contact the Scheduling Assistant at 718-735-4400, extension 118. National Museum for African Art: “Audible Artworks: Selected African Musical Instruments.” This Smithsonian site includes audio clips of different instruments being played. Stanford University Libraries: “African Music on the Internet.” A comprehensive list of links to Internet sites about African musical styles (both contemporary and traditional), musical instruments, and musicians. Includes many links to audio clips of African music. MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS OF AFRICA 19 Acknowledgments Beth Alberty Niobe Ngozi Chrisy Ledakis Yuko Waragai Tim Hayduk Nobue Hirabayashi ■ Portable Collections Series Coordinators Jewell Handy Melissa Husby ■ Special Thanks Gloria Cones The Teachers of the New York City Department of Education ■ Funding This revision of Brooklyn Children’s Museum’s Portable Collections Program is made possible by a Learning Opportunity Grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services. ■ ■ ■ © 2006 Brooklyn Children’s Museum 145 Brooklyn Avenue Brooklyn, New York 11213 718-735-4400 ext. 170 For information about renting this or other Portable Collections Program cases, please contact the Scheduling Assistant at 718-735-4400 ext. 118. MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS OF AFRICA 20