Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel Music Curriculum Guide
- All sound is created by vibration. Stretch a rubber band between your fingers and pluck it. Watch it vibrate. Shorten the rubber band. How does the sound change? Lengthen it, make it tauter. What happens to the sound now?
- Blow across the opening of an empty soda or water bottle until it makes a sound. The air inside the bottle vibrates and creates a pitch. What happens if you put an inch of water in the bottle? Two inches? Fill it halfway and try again. Explore this website to see how and why this works.
- Bagpipes are reed instruments that make sound in a way similar to the way an oboe does. The reeds inside the instrument vibrate when air is forced through them and the pitch is changed by covering and uncovering the holes on the chanter to make the vibrating tube longer or shorter. Explore this website to read how Scottish bagpipes work and see each part of the instrument. Irish, or Uillleann, bagpipes work in a similar way but use a bellows to fill the bag with air instead of a blowpiece.
- Make a double reed instrument with a drinking straw. Check out this site or this video for instructions.
Other Irish songs/performers to experience:
- Stephen Simon uses many different tunes to musically illustrate parts of the story. Listen to the CD track 3 to hear examples explained by the composer himself. Choose one of your favorite picture books and decide what tunes you could use to represent certain parts of the story. Put on a show for your family with one person reading the story while you hum the tunes in the background or play them on an instrument.
- “Program Music” is the term used for music that tells a story or creates a specific picture or idea using sounds. Other pieces of program music are Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals, Berlioz’ Symphonie Fantastique, and Dukas’ The Sorceror’s Apprentice. Get these CDs out of the library and listen to any of these pieces while trying to picture the story in your mind. Illustrate part of the story as you listen. How does the composer use the instruments to represent characters, action or ideas?
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