The Australian Didgeridoo Brings High & Low Fun to the Montessori Music Room!

FOCUSED LISTENING IS SO IMPORTANT FOR MUSIC LEARNING AND THE DIDGERIDOO OFFERS A UNIQUE EXPERIENCE THAT IS VERY INTERESTING TO YOUNG CHILDREN!


Photo by the artists at Dollar Photo Club

Our recent Montessori music classes have been chock full of activities with the concepts of High & Low in music. We've  echoed high & low in our singing. We've played really fun high & low games with listening & moving our bodies. We've listened carefully to funny high & low sounds of human voices. We've played high & low notes on the xylophone and we've even played high & low with rhythm instruments like the tambourine.

This week, our lesson featured the sound of the Australian didgeridoo. This is a very long, wind instrument that has an interesting and very low sound. 


Photo by the artists at Dollar Photo Club

I found several nice youtube videos with didgeridoo music. This one features the didgeridoo played with the Australian Youth Orchestra and I think it is wonderful!



To read more about the didgeridoo, and hear some examples of its sound, just click this link: Didgeridoo Store.

Australian aborigine people claim that the  best materials for making the didgeridoo are fallen tree limbs that have been hollowed out by termites! If you would like to read a sweet children's book about how a didgeridoo is made I found this beautiful little eBook at the kindle store on Amazon. Here's that link: Luku Makes A Didgeridoo. 




Back to Montessori music class! I introduced the didgeridoo to the children by playing a recording of didgeridoo music. First, I explained to the children that we would be listening to some very low music made by the Australian didgeridoo. I love to invite the children to repeat the name and they always impress me with how easily they learn this funny sounding word: didgeridoo!

Then, I show a photo of a didgeridoo so that the children can see just how very long it is and how it is played by blowing into it somewhat like a woodwind instrument. There are many great photos of didgeridoos on google images that you can use in your classroom presentations. The photos in my article here are from a stock photo site, Dollar Photo Club, with limited licensing rights. 

After I show the children some photos of a didgeridoo, then we prepare to listen to a recording of traditional didgeridoo music.

Here's one of many selections of didgeridoo music that can be downloaded from Amazon at this link: Didgeridoo & Sounds of Nature. 



First, I have the children prepare their ears for focused  listening by gently rubbing their ears along the edges. I tell them it is like giving a little massage to their ears to sensitize them for listening. I also explain that the didgeridoo makes a very low sound and it might be a little bit of a surprise!

After we hear a short example of didgeridoo music, then I explain to the children that it takes strong lungs to play this instrument. The didgeridoo player has to practice a lot and learn to use circular breathing using the powerful muscles of the diaphragm. Sometimes, I show the children a picture of the human body with the area of the diaphragm outlined. We can then feel the muscles of the diaphragm by placing hands just below the ribs and taking a long inhale...then a slow exhale! 

Photo by the artists at Dollar Photo Club

If you happen to have a didgeridoo, it is wonderful to show the actual instrument to the children. Tom, a preschool teacher at one of the Montessori schools where I teach, plays the didgeridoo and his group knows all about this interesting instrument!

I have a very fun rhythm instrument that the children can try out, one-by-one. It's called a "Didgeharp" from Remo Percussion. It works like  a "thunder tube", if you have ever heard one of those. This one is a short, sturdy tube decorated with Australian artwork and inside there is a spring that resounds through the tube when it is shaken from side to side.You don't do any blowing, just shaking!  The resulting sound is very low and sounds a little like a real didgeridoo. 


This fun "Didgeharp" is available at Amazon at this link: Didgeharp at Amazon.

All this fun stuff about the didgeridoo is a preparation for the High & Low Listening Game that we did from my all-time favorite curriculum, Music Room from Bushfire Press.

This High & Low Lesson is one of the music lessons from the eMusic Room iBook that is available from iTunes. You can check out the link on the right sidebar of this blog.

I will be offering a mini-eCourse with the Music Room curriculum in February 2016. Watch for updates on this blog! For a FREE DOWNLOAD of a very fun High & Low movement activity click this link: Bushfire Press Music Room Book 2.




I like to give each child a set of rhythm sticks so that we can play them along with the High & Low Game from this curriculum. If you don't have rhythm sticks, you can simply invite the children to place their hands down low when the music is low, and then raise their hands up high when the music is high.
The High & Low Listening Game from Lesson 3 has the didgeridoo playing for the low sounds and the Australian "clapping sticks" playing for the high sounds. 
Photo of Australian Clapping Sticks by the artists at Dollar Photo Club

When we play the game with rhythm sticks, I show the children how to play the sticks down low on the floor (like drumming on a drum) to represent the low sounds. Then, I have the children tap their sticks up high when the sound on the recording is a high sound. You can vary this activity for your group by simply singing a familiar song in a high voice, then in a low voice, etc. The children respond by playing their sticks by clicking them up high or by "drumming" them down low.

The rhythm sticks I like best for Preschool children are the ones from Basic Beat. They are just long enough to be comfortable for young children's hands, and this set has one that is smooth and one that has ridges...lots of ways to play these!

These rhythm sticks are available at Amazon at this link: 8 Inch Rhythm Sticks at Amazon.

Rhythm sticks are one of the best instruments for young children to develop the muscles of the hands that are necessary for playing just about any musical instrument. 

These same muscles are necessary when manipulating the mallets used when playing the Xylophone (or any of the barred instruments).



Photo by the artists at Dollar Photo Club

A strong, yet flexible grip, is necessary for grasping drum sticks, of course! 
Rhythm sticks played by young children are a great preparation for future playing of the snare drum in the High School marching band!


Photo by the artists at Dollar Photo Club

You can read more of my articles about young children and the music concepts of High & Low at this link in this blog: MUSIC.

I have a new store! You can find my favorite early childhood products at MY AMAZON SHOP on the right side bar of this blog. There is a special CATEGORY for the Amazon products that I used in the activities in this post: HIGH & LOW WITH DIDGERIDOO. 

Once again, I want to thank you for visiting my blog and I hope you enjoyed the time here as much I have enjoyed doing these activities with young children. I love comments, so please don't hesitate to leave one if you have a moment! 




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4 comments :

  1. Wow Carolyn! This is really, fun, informative, interesting, and just plain cool!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for your lovely comment! The kids really enjoyed it, too!

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  2. These are really cool instruments! :)

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    Replies
    1. Yes, I agree, Vanessa! Interesting to listen to.

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