We recently had an extremely generous donation come into the music studio. A parent from the Red Room asked if we would like his double bass (contrabass) since he no longer played. Of course, we said “Yes!”
Unfortunately, shortly after it was donated, the neck joint came unglued and so the instrument was sitting off to the side of the large studio, waiting for repairs.
The music specialists had been hesitant about taking it out to show the children since they did not want it to break further; but, when the children became instantly interested in it, the specialist decided to trust the children and follow their interests.
Student: What’s that, Miss Amanda?
Student: A guitar!
Student: A huge guitar
Teacher: It’s actually in the same family as a guitar, but it’s a different instrument. It’s called a double bass.
Student: Can we see it?
Teacher: Yes, but we have to be very careful with it because it’s broken.
Student: How did it break?
Teacher: Someone was being very careful with it, but sometimes accidents happen.
The children carefully observed the instrument and asked questions about various parts of it.
Student: What is this part? (pointing to the case)
Teacher: The bass is in a case to keep it safe. It’s kind of like a big sleeping bag.
The children laugh.
Student: It’s broken?
Teacher: Yep. I wonder how we could fix it?
Student: With tools! We need a hammer! And a saw!
Student: I know! We should make something to play the instruments for you!
Teacher: Tell me more about that. Do you mean, like a machine?
Teacher: Hmm. Interesting! Maybe we could build something together soon!
One student suddenly got a very serious expression on his face.
Student: Everybody be quiet! The bass is sick! We need to take care of it!
Teacher: How can we take care of it?
Student: Not throw it on the floor.
Student: By being so nice to it.
Student: Maybe we could sing it a lullaby!
The children all agreed and found instruments to play a lullaby for the broken bass.
This particular group of students only has music in the large music studio Fridays. A larger studio means that classroom management has had to change. Although the space gives us a lot more room for movement, it is sometimes difficult to handle our impulses when there is just so much to explore!
While brainstorming about how to control these impulses, I came up with a few ideas – and even toyed around with the idea of disassembling an instrument and re-building it together due to the children’s strong interest in building. The “broken bass” dilemma ended up showing me a different side to these children, one that I had been searching for but hadn’t quite found the best avenue for exploring yet.
Now, I’m curious as to how we can further these investigations. What about the children’s idea of taking care of the “sick bass” by singing it a lullaby? I can see a connection to the power that music has on our emotions.
Reflection by Amanda Lautenbach, Music Specialist
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