One Instrument, Many Timbres

Music (and Science) For Young Children


Recently, a music teacher named Elisabeth Kirby (@JeffersonSings) tweeted that the song “Ghostbusters” uses 3/4 of the vocal timbres: sing, speak and call! (The fourth is whisper.) I admired Ms. Kirby’s observation, and also felt kind of jealous because I’d never noticed this. Also, it somehow makes it seem more “educational” to use “Ghostbusters” in music class! (Not that we need an excuse. Having fun making music is educational!)

But I digress. In this post I’d like to talk about how one instrument can be played in a variety of ways, and how many of those ways will produce different timbres.

Case in point: maracas, or shakers. If all you do with shakers is shake them, you’re missing a lot of fun – and a lot of sounds.

I discovered this when I began musical improvisation with my classes, ages 18 months through six years old. Before this, I demonstrated…

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