Developed by Michelle Forshaw
Ascension School, Kettering
Grade Level: 6
Throughout history people have been influenced to create not only by their familial clans but by the materials available in their regions. In this lesson the teacher, Michelle Forshaw, challenges her students to think about why the instruments used in the Spanish culture evolved in the manner that they have. Not only are they asked to research the history of an instrument from this culture, they are asked to build one for themselves using what is available to them.
They quickly learn that in order to creatively solve a problem, artists must often abandon their initial approach—which stems from past experience and re-conceptualize the problem. A rich hands-on experience is the result!
Student Performance Tasks
- Teacher introduction
- Students watch a YouTube video displaying and discussing a variety of Latin instruments.
- Students spend one class day seeing an array of Latin instruments, or their classroom instrument equivalents. Each student takes an instrument and plays a Latin-inspired rhythmic line in a small group. After each group has practiced, then the class puts all parts together.
- Students brainstorm and discuss what materials they can use to create their own Latin American-inspired instruments.
- Students gather and bring in found items from home that can be used to create an instrument.
- Students write a paragraph about their instrument and include the following information:
• Instrument name
• What real instrument inspired the creation
• Which world instrument family it belongs to
• How to play it
• Why the student chose that instrument.
- Give a presentation to the class including the information above.
- Writing an index card with abridged information from the paragraph to use during presentation and to attach to instrument while on display.
- Repeat above activity playing rhythms on like-instrument groups, but this time on the students’ created instruments.
Social studies, science, writing
Enduring Understandings: Geography influences needs, culture, opportunities, choices, interests, and skills.
- Explain how main ideas connect to each other in a variety of sources
- Demonstrating science knowledge
- Using what is available is a hallmark of every society
Research and write about another culture
Enduring Understandings: Music is a universal language. Music expresses human experiences and values. Music expands understanding of the world, its people, and one’s self. History and culture influence music.
What can we learn about a culture through its art forms? What instruments are used in Latin American music?
Students will learn:
- About Latin American instruments & ways to construct their own using found objects.
- How to use existing classroom/Latin instruments & their newly created instruments to play Latin rhythms.
Expectations for Learning
Students will demonstrate this learning by:
1. Creating an instrument inspired by a real Latin American instrument.
2. Playing rhythms on existing and students’ newly created instruments.
Students will be engaged and supported in learning by:
- Watching an informational video
- Playing Latin rhythms on classroom instruments
- Writing about their instruments
- Actively creating one of their own.
Assessment (Pre and/or Post)
Students will know how well they are learning by:
- Connecting the instrument they are creating to an existing one, and by how well it looks and sounds when they are finished.
- Using their newly created instruments in place of classroom instruments to play Latin rhythms learned at the beginning of the unit.
Materials & Resources
Materials list for Teachers:
- YouTube video link
- Latin rhythm sheet
Materials list for Students:
- Found or recyclable items from home
- Lentils (or other dry beans)
- 3×5 Index card
- Other items students may wish to use to decorate or detail their instrument creations.
Instruments: Maracas, claves, bongos, conga drums, tambourines, guiro etc.
- Creative thinking—How am I going to accomplish this task?
- What instruments are used in other world cultures?
- How can creating an instrument help me become a better student musician
- Understand other cultures better?
- Why did the people use the materials that they did?
- Simpler rhythmic parts will be given to students who struggle more with demonstrating rhythm. Music is the original differentiated subject!
- Students can be as simple or creative as each is able to do so on their instruments as long as each student does his/her best.
- Students are allowed to ask for assistance from each other, as long as each is completing his/her own work.
- Students need to know where Latin America is—geography
- Students need to construct a sound instrument that still allows for resonance and vibration—science
- Students need to be able to write about and communicate about his/her instrument—writing and language arts
- Students need to understand how to implement the media and materials that they have chosen to use—visual art
- Exploration and play
- Working with images
- Students watched a video on YouTube that demonstrated, described, and explained various Latin American instruments.
- The rhythms that students played on classroom instruments were found online.
Home/At Work Connections
- Students were instructed to look around their houses for found, upcyclable items that could be used to construct an instrument.
- Students ensured any such items were clean, and then brought them to school to use in the project.
- Additionally, students were allowed to bring any other items to help them with the construction of their instruments, such as decorative paper, extra tape, etc.