As we develop sensitivities to the worlds within us by building musical skills and exploring our musicality, we can also develop our sensitivities to the world around us by integrating natural materials into our practices, and making music outside. This activity will allow us to explore our natural environment and how it changes through the seasons while we musically feel steady beats, explore using our body as an instrument, and practice composing original music.
Take three grounding breaths to settle into the experience of musicking.
With some music playing, practice feeling the steady beat with your body. How do different parts of your body sound and feel when you play them like drums or other percussion instruments? Can you use your voice to do this?
Practice making short patterns with these different sounds (i.e., four foot stomps, four hand claps, two finger snaps with pauses in between them, then repeating). How many patterns can you make? Do your patterns want to change at any point?
To record these patterns, we need something to keep track of what sounds happen and when. Go outside and gather some leaves of various colors. If you feel called, you can also incorporate other materials such as twigs, stones, feathers, or other little treasures you find outside.
Inside or outside, and with or without a partner or small group, start to decide which sounds you like most (body percussion, voices), and which natural item should represent each sound (i.e. yellow leaves for foot stomps, red leaves for hand claps).
Experiment with placing the items into various patterns, then performing based on the arrangement. Are there any changes you want to make? Are new sounds wanting to come through, and do you need to gather more materials?
When you think you have your song ready, fix your materials onto a piece of paper using glue or other binding materials.
In the end, give volunteer performances and follow the Critical Response Process to discuss the work.
Take time to show gratitude to yourself, your collaborators and classmates, your materials, and the environment they came from.
Optional extension: how can you make sections that repeat in the song? How can revisiting sections, or making changes to the sections throughout the song affect the impact of the composition?
National Core Arts Standards
MU:Cr1.1.5a: Improvise rhythmic, melodic, and harmonic ideas, and explain the connection to specific purpose and context (such as social, cultural, and historical).
MU:Cr1.1.5b Generate musical ideas (such as rhythms, melodies, and accompaniment patterns) within specifically related tonalities, meters, and simple chord changes.
MU:Cr2.1.8b: Use standard and/or iconic notation and/or audio/video recording to document personal rhythmic phrases, melodic phrases, and harmonic sequences.
MU:Cr3.2.5a: Present the final version of personally created music to others that demonstrates craftsmanship, and explain the connection to expressive intent.
MU:Pr5.1.5b: Rehearse to refine technical accuracy and expressive qualities to address challenges, and show improvement over time.
MU:Cn10.0.5a: Demonstrate how interests, knowledge, and skills relate to personal choices and intent when creating, performing, and responding.
MU:Cn11.0.5a: Demonstrate understanding of relationships between music and the other arts, other disciplines, varied contexts, and daily life.
CASEL Core Competencies
Self-awareness, relationship skills, social awareness