Amazing Sounds of Aluminum Pie Plates

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It’s so great that I love to make quiches and I’m too lazy to make my own crusts. Because then I have to buy frozen pie crusts – which come with FREE MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS!!!!

If you’ve never played the aluminum pie plate as a musical instrument, there are a couple things you should know:

        1. Wash it.

        2. Dry it.

Okay. When that’s all taken care of, you’re ready to go.

Seriously, these things are wonderful objects for young children to explore the timbre, or sound quality, of metal. Although they’re totally metal, they’re light, easy to hold (unlike, say, triangles), with no sharp edges, so children can investigate to their hearts’ content. And unlike most children’s instruments, which tend to be overpriced, well, I know I said this before, but they’re FREE! – this really can’t be overstated as an advantage for preschool teachers!

I like to introduce the pie plates when the students are sitting in a circle, so they can benefit from seeing and hearing their classmates’ improvisations. First I ask them if they know what it is, and what it’s used for. Then I tell them that they can also play music with it! (Even though my students know me well enough by now to know that when I show up with some new object, we’re probably gonna make music with it.)

It’s nice to have some instrumental music with a good steady beat playing in the background(not too loudly, of course) to inspire musical rhythms. I start by tapping one on the flat side, then tapping two together on the flat sides. Then I pass them around the circle for everyone to try, emphasizing that there’s no “right way” to play – they can play any way they want, as long as they’re careful of the “instruments” and of the people sitting near them.

If children get stuck for ideas (though this hardly ever happens!) you could inspire them by demonstrating one of these techniques, all invented by students of mine:

        1. bang the open sides together
2. rub the flat sides together (may be squeaky)
3. scrape the open sides together (scratchy sound)
4. tap with fingers, hands, straws, pencils, or craft sticks
5. rub flat sides with fingers or hands
6. wear it on your head like a hat and tap it with a finger or hand
7. play in partners, each child holding one pie plate – tap, rub, or
scrape together
8. knock on the flat sides with knuckles
9. set the pie plate on the floor, flat side up, and make Duplo people
or rubber dinosaurs dance on it – interesting sound and it’s
delightfully entertaining.
10. Have children drop the pie plates on a wood floor at the same
time – one, two, three, crash!

These are just a few ideas for exploring the sounds of aluminum pie plates – I’m sure your students w ill find many more! If you can save up enough pie plates to bring in one for everyone, that would be awesome – I’ve always been too impatient and brought them in when I have two or three. (One class of vigorous exploration is usually all the pie plates can stand up to. Well, you get what you pay for.)

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