The art teacher and I are collaborating on a unit—gourd instruments. I’ve been interested in making musical instruments with gourds for several years, and made some a few years ago for an African unit. This year I thought it would be fun to have the students paint and decorate their own gourds in their art class, then we would use them and create rhythms in our music class and then perform for the parents.
In February, Casa Grande had a gourd festival and my husband and I went and bought over $300 worth of gourds. Do you realize how many different varieties there are of gourds? Lots! I was prepared, though, because the art teacher, Shannon, and I had already decided which classes would get which type of gourd (3rd grade – 6th grade).
Now for the past couple of weeks the students have been painting their gourds and today during music we started using them to plan a musical performance to show the parents. Here’s the scary thing, though. I didn’t plan the lesson or musical performance for each class. I decided I would let each class create their own musical number.
I love these guided, open ended lessons because the students come up with such fun, creative ideas—better than what I could think of. It’s also a great way to provide an activity where cooperation and communication is needed.
Since the students researched and used Native American symbols on the gourds, I played several different selections of Native American music for them to listen to. We read about different tribes and their music and instruments in our student music books. Then I told them a couple of Native American folk stories, showed them some dances and suggested how we could use both recorders and their gourds to enhance the music or add interest.
Then came the creative part. I let the students suggest ideas for our musical presentation, we voted on the ideas and then started putting our performance together. It was a rewarding day.