Musical Instruments Week!

This past week was a ton of fun! Our theme was musical instruments, and we kept finding more and more information and sources for different musical instruments. This was the first time I was bummed about doing a theme for only a week. We could have kept it going, but it was getting loud in the house, and I figured we always have music around and can play with the instruments any time we like anyway. So we moved on.

Here is the what we did over the past week:

Let’s start with the books we read.

These are the super educational books we used. They are great for the 4-8 age range. They are all written by different authors, but under the same publisher, Child’s World, in the Music Makers series. Here is a link to the publishers store.

These books were a perfect start to the week, and helped us to line up a basis of instrumental knowledge. Key words were colored in burgundy and then listed in the glossary. It also had references to find out more about a particular instrument. These books would be wonderful if you were just looking into one instrument. Snug doesn’t have the patience for just one instrument though; she wants to know about them all. In fact she wants to try and play them all. So we went to our toy box and pulled out all the instruments we could find. We turned up enough to start a small band.
I have to admit, while I don’t like buying a ton for these themes (we only spend a week on them, and it would be rather wasteful (I get all the books from the library)), I had to get the princess piano. We certainly aren’t planning on getting a real piano ever. SO I figured I might as well get this one and she could see what it is all about, along with the aforementioned piano book. I also had a thought as I first passed this princess piano book that maybe, just maybe, seeing all of these piano books would strike an unknown interest in her. Then maybe, just maybe, she would want to know more and more about playing the piano and many years from now would be performing in Carnegie Hall. Unlikely at best, given when I posted the speculation to my husband, he laughed. That and apparently she is more interested in guitars and things like guitars, than any other instruments.
Anyway, we had great fun making a ton of noise with our instruments. We talked a little bit about how the instruments make noise, but not too much. We did talk a lot about notes, along with how different scales in instruments and singing is marked. Do-Re-Me versus C-B-A. Another win for the princess piano book. Not only does it have the letter notes clearly marked, they are color coded. So in the book it shows you the written music with the letters inside squares of color underneath the written notes. Wonderful, I just forgot to take a picture.
These are the additional music story or fiction books we read. I agree the my little pony “Pony Pop Stars” book is a bit of a stretch, but it was fun to see how the same instruments used in an orchestra could be used in a band. The Alphabet Symphony book is pretty neat overall; it is a series of photographs taken of an orchestra or individuals playing their instruments. The letters are vividly pointed out in the picture. Very clever and cool, however not what my daughter was looking for. She preferred “Zin! Zin! Zin! a Violin.” Which is also a wonderful book with counting too!
So far, we had read a ton of books about different instruments, we had played a ton of our own, but they were still just toy instruments. I wanted snug to see real, life size instruments up close. So we went to our local music shop and that is where the ukulele comes in.
The light blue ukulele.
It is pretty cute. We are now its proud owners and players, no matter how terrible at playing it we may be.
We walked into the music store and this was the first thing snug set eyes on. It was also the first thing my husband set eyes on. He is a big sucker for her and her love of things he mutually finds cool. I pulled them both away so we could tour the store’s finest instruments. We played the keyboard, though snug was a little disappointed that “playing the keyboard” does not translate into banging on it with both hands. I let her play with one finger on each hand at a time. She wanted to play ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb.’ Amazingly enough, she was sitting at the right part of the keyboard, and got the first two notes right. We looked at all the other instruments, especially the drums, which she fell in love with right away, and wanted desperately to play. The shop owner was very nice and offered, but we turned it down, at least until snug has a better understanding of how hard to hit the drums.
At the end of our little tour we went straight back to the ukuleles. My husband had that look in his eye (you know, the one that says I am a giant sucker for my little girl and it’s always cool to have a ukulele around). I sighed and agreed that we could get it and we had a talk with snug about how to treat real instruments.

I don’t know who was more excited. The only problem is that it is very very hard to keep small hands away from the tension pegs. Our ukulele is very out of tune, and I will be taking it back to the shop soon to learn how to tune it properly.

Let’s move on to the craft we did. There are so so many cool instrument crafts out there. Many you can make out of things you find in your home, and that is what we did. We did get a book from the library to help inspire us, though. Here it is:
We went for the bongo drums. It was a ton of fun and they work very well, given they are a little quiet. The instructions indicate that you should use plastic grocery bags, but ours were not strong enough and got holes very quickly. We used a freezer bag instead, following the directions in lieu of the plastic grocery bag. Here is how our craft went.
Please note/disregard the two different sets of pajamas my daughter is wearing. We started the craft one day and had to finish it another. My daughter practically lives in pajamas; it’s not that we don’t leave the house, we do a lot, she just loves pajamas, swimsuits and party dresses. Most of her life has been spent in one of the three. We hardly wear regular clothes. In fact I am not sure why we buy them anymore. Anyway…. There are the bongo drums!! They turned out nicely and snug decided to do a consistent theme of curious George for decorations.
This week was a ton of fun. We learned so much about instruments, but here are a list of things that I wish we could have done, but I didn’t think of until now. Maybe you will get a chance to do some of them:
  • actually listening to different kinds of music and pointing out the different instruments you hear.
  • visiting a children’s science museum that has life size, if not larger replicas of instruments to play.
  • watching videos about instruments. There are a ton, practically every character, George, Dora, Sesame Street has done something with instruments. We could have been living and breathing musical instrument knowledge for a whole week.
  • making all of our own instruments and talking more about how people around the world make music.

All that is for another time. We ended the week with a very loud, very exciting musical parade!!! We talked about each instrument and played them one at a time before putting them in the toy box.

(Again swimsuit and tutu, though she added a crown for the parade effect).

The ukulele did not go in the toy box; it lives safe and sound in the rocking chair across the room. It is well loved though, and snug has been practicing. Just take a listen for yourself.

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