Monday, August 24, 2009

Hippo Drawstring Bag for my Musical Staff

Music is an essential part of everything we do. Like puppetry, music has an abstract quality which speaks to a worldwide audience in a wonderful way that nourishes the soul.” -puppeteer Jim Henson

My very faded plastic Myer bag which was used to store my homemade life-sized musical staff was long since overdue for replacement. When I found some sweet hippopotamus fabric in this Etsy store I knew immediately what I would do with it. The tiny little black hippos with their rounded bodies reminded me beautifully of musical notes and would perfectly suit the admirations of a group of 5 yr olds.

A simple drawstring bag was all I needed to house my five black rope lines to be laid out on the floor for the staff. The main part of the bag is made from a white curtain remnant which is quite sturdy so I didn't line the entire the bag, rather just the top few inches with some of the hippo fabric as a feature.

A ribbon threaded through a casing provides ample fastening for a soft bag with its soft contents. A little clear pony bead helps to hold the opening closed.

The musical staff would have to be one of my most favourite music education tools as it brings to life that rather abstract notion of musical notation. Once grasped it is very simple, however it can be quite daunting when one does not understand the relationship between all those dots, lines and spaces on the page. I use discs made of card covered in black contact which children can place between lines in the spaces and also around the lines to represent notes on the lines. (see how complicated it can become!) What is more fun however is when children actually jump and run through the lines and have swimming races and perform balancing acts on top of the lines in order to familiarise themselves with the notions of line and space. I love to play the 'Musical Machine' game whereby children actually physically become musical notes by standing on the lines and in spaces. I crank up the machine and hope for the best when I tap each 'note' on the head encouraging the children to sing the note they represent (with guidance from me where needed). I am always amazed at the results. Sometimes the machine doesn't work so well, it plays incorrect notes (on purpose ;) ) and leaves gaps of silences. It is simply a matter of cranking up the machine again and we are off creating musical melodies with our voices. All due to the inspiration of a simple musical staff on the floor.

Due credit must be given to the authors of Kindermusk for the Young Child for the inspiration of aspects of these wonderful games.

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