CNMN > Projects > Stay at Home Symphony ! Found Objects Orchestra & Conduction Activity

Meredith Bates

  • Ouvert (définition : partitions pour une instrumentation non spécifiée)
  • Objets trouvés ou matériel artistique
  • Voix
  • Petite enfance
  • 5 à 12 ans
  • 13 à 18 ans
  • Adultes
  • Ainés
  • Intergénérationnel
  • Éducation
  • Associations communautaires
  • Famille

Stay at Home Symphony ! Found Objects Orchestra & Conduction Activity


From fin­ding objects around the house (the recy­cling and ‘junk dra­wer’ are trea­sure troves!) to tur­ning them into musi­cal ins­tru­ments and deco­ra­ting them, to com­po­sing a sym­pho­ny, to conduc­ting the final per­for­mance ! Kids will find a huge amount of joy in lea­ding this acti­vi­ty, stret­ching their ima­gi­na­tions, tur­ning up their ears, and explo­ring their sound art poten­tial. The ins­tru­ments can be any sound making objects the ima­gi­na­tion finds poten­tial in. The sym­pho­ny is a fra­me­work : a sto­ry­line with a begin­ning, middle, and end, depic­ted in a gra­phic score. The chil­dren will create the work and adults sim­ply faci­li­tate as much or as lit­tle as is neces­sa­ry, based on the child/children. The final per­for­mance consists of the child/children using basic hand signals, cue cards, or words to cue the orches­tra of musi­cians pre­mie­ring the Stay at Home Sym­pho­ny on their new­ly min­ted ‘found object’ instruments.

Step by Step Instructions :

  • Take a look around your home for ran­dom items you think might easi­ly be trans­for­med into sound making machines. Toi­let paper tubes, tin­foil take out contai­ners, old keys, dry maca­ro­ni, and emp­ty egg car­tons are some of the things we’ve collected.

  • Pull out your art sup­plies and get craf­ty ! Try atta­ching objects toge­ther to create new ins­tru­ments. You might also attach string to hang the ins­tru­ment or make a handle out of tape to hold the ins­tru­ment. Ima­gine how you might drum on some­thing, blow through some­thing, strum something…what cool sounds can your found objects make ? Per­haps you hook elas­tic bands onto nails to create some­thing you can strum, cut or, alter­na­te­ly, glue tubes toge­ther to create dif­ferent soun­ding ‘horns,’ or dangle old keys or tin­foil take-away contai­ners from strings to create chimes or cym­bals. Any­thing goes ! Once you’ve adap­ted your ins­tru­ments into sound making machines, you can deco­rate them howe­ver you like ; with paint, sparkles, sti­ckers, string, you name it ! The more colour­ful, the better.

  • Next, you’ll need some colou­red pen­cils and a big piece of paper to com­pose your gra­phic score. For this step, ima­gine the sounds you’d like to hear and what dra­wings might match up with those sounds. I’ve inclu­ded some examples below. You might give each found object ins­tru­ment that you’ve crea­ted its own colour on the score, so that when the player of that ins­tru­ment sees their colour, they know it’s their turn to play. Or, you might draw a bunch of dif­ferent shapes that can be inter­pre­ted by the musi­cians in your Stay at Home Sym­pho­ny as sounds. A lot of dots or short lines might mean real­ly per­cus­sive stac­ca­to (short) sounds on the ins­tru­ments. Swir­ly circles or long lines might mean more connec­ted sounds. You can use height in your dra­wing, too. High sounds could be indi­ca­ted with mar­kings higher up on the page and low sounds could be low on the page. Dif­ferent colours could be used to tell the players what kinds of sounds to play. Or, you could sim­ply draw an idea of what you want to hear and use hand signals to point to the musi­cian you want to play and how you want them to make their ins­tru­ment sound in that moment.

  • Last­ly, set up a space for your big concert ! You’ll need at least one per­son to play your ins­tru­ments, but, pre­fe­ra­bly, you’ll gather your fami­ly or friends toge­ther and have one per­son playing each ins­tru­ment. You’ll be the conductor !


A Per­so­nal Experience :


I first taught this Found Objects Orches­tra and Conduc­tion pro­ject to a day camp of pres­chool aged chil­dren at a music school where I used to work tea­ching most­ly vio­lin. I drew from my expe­rience as an impro­vi­sor, my know­ledge of gra­phic score com­po­si­tion, and my brief intro­duc­tion to John Zorn’s com­po­si­tion, Cobra, which uti­lizes a sys­tem of conduc­tion hand sym­bols and cue cards. All of these things mixed with the play­ful­ness, zeal, and chaos that any room full of pres­choo­lers will bring came toge­ther to create a magi­cal per­for­mance built from the ground up, coope­ra­ti­ve­ly, by the chil­dren them­selves. In the end, our class­room resem­bled a fan­tas­ti­cal scene akin to some­thing out of a Dr. Zeuss book, with colour­ful home­made ins­tru­ments han­ging from the cei­ling, stret­ched from wall to wall, and balan­ced on chairs. The per­for­mers were assi­gned an ini­tial sta­tion equip­ped with an ins­tru­ment to make sound with and then each child rota­ted through the sta­tions and took turns at the conductor’s “podium.” When at the helm, so to speak, the conduc­tor could use any means of com­mu­ni­ca­tion they wan­ted to convey the sounds they desi­red from the per­for­mers. All in all, we had a blast making impro­vi­sed music in the moment and exer­ci­sing our crea­tive minds. The chil­dren gai­ned so much from the expe­rience and came away from their final per­for­mance glo­wing with exci­te­ment and a sense of accom­plish­ment as a group.

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