Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Making music doesn't have to be expensive

Watching and taking part in performing arts can be expensive, even for children. And often not just a little expensive, but £££. Going to the theatre costs money, learning a musical instrument costs money, even singing in a local choir can involve a fee. 

However, there are some things you can do that, whilst not totally free (because what is), can cost a lot less, and so I'm going to try to cover some of those things in this blog as well. 

The most obvious "free" way to make music is what my baby boy likes to do - give him a wooden spoon and he will bash the floor and walls, giggling. (Eventually, he might work out he can bash the upturned pan I keep putting in front of him, but so far it seems that the floor is an easier target!)

My daughter also likes bashing things with a spoon, but as she is at the age/stage where "things to be bashed" can sometimes also include her brother, we tend to do this activity less often when she is around! Instead, we sit down to sing nursery rhymes with shakers which are shaken and banged (and occasionally thrown), sometimes even in time to the music...

The shakers we use are homemade and contain food stuff so if they do open up and spill, it won't matter if either child takes it upon themselves to eat the contents. Our old shakers were looking a bit tired so recently my daughter and I made some more...

So these aren't totally free to make: the pots came with chutneys in the last time we had an Indian takeaway and obviously the rice etc. in it does cost some money (although probably not even pennies given the amounts). We were getting the takeaway anyway though, so the leftover pots were effectively an added bonus (and not at all an excuse to get more takeaway in the future...)

Mmmmm curry....

For the contents I used dry red lentils, bulghar wheat and rice. You could use anything you have in the cupboard that will rattle: rice, couscous, dried peas (I remember using these for shakers as a child:does anyone still have dried peas in their cupboards??) If your child is older/less liable to put anything they can in their mouth you could use beads, gravel, cat litter... anything dry really.

Using different pulses and seeds not only makes it look prettier, but will also give a different sound to the shaker. Experiment!

First, we decorated the pots with stickers (paint is currently banned in this house). 
Smiley shakers
Then we added a small amount of the lentils/wheat/rice. Less is more in the case of shakers: too much filling and you get a dull, quiet sound, whereas a few grains of rice rattling around a pot can be surprisingly noisy.

Now to make them childproof...
Finally, they needed to be made toddler/baby proof. We wrapped coloured tape all around the lids to keep them stuck. I feel I should add at this point that I have no idea how toxic these tapes are. Obviously I don't just stand by and watch my children sucking on them, so I figure it's ok, but if you are worried you might want to look for some non-toxic tape.

Et voila! An activity to occupy a child on a rainy day that can keep them occupied (for a little time, anyway) on future rainy days. Plus it's a cheap way to make music together.

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