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Musically Montessori: Exploring The Instruments Of The Orchestra~ "The Brass Family"

DOES YOUR PRESCHOOL MONTESSORI MUSIC CURRICULUM NEED SOME NEW EXCITEMENT? HOW ABOUT EXPLORING THE LIVELY SOUNDS OF THE BRASS INSTRUMENTS OF THE ORCHESTRA! 
Scroll down to see my one-minute YouTube video of the children from Kiran's Montessori School recently enjoying a lesson with the Brass Family of Instruments! 

Photo by Kiran at Kiran's Montessori School

In my ongoing Montessori Music Curriculum, I alternate our course of study every two years during the Winter/Spring sessions at the 8 school sites where I teach my weekly lessons. This is the year the children are exploring the Instrument Families of the Orchestra. Alternating years we explore World Music from the Continents of the Earth. 

 STARTING WITH THE BRASS FAMILY

When introducing the Families of the Instruments of the Orchestra, I like to start with the Brass Family, since it is so exciting: shiny, golden and full of a big sound!

Photo by the artists at Adobe Stock

Visuals are very engaging for little ones. I find that young children really love to see photos of other children playing instruments. It really captures their attention! 

PREPARING THE CHILDREN

The very first thing I do is show children visuals of an Orchestra so that they get an idea of how many musicians play instruments in the Orchestra. 

                 Photo by the artists at Adobe Stock

Next, I explain to the children: 
"The Orchestra has lots of musicians playing instruments all together like a band. There are sections in the Orchestra where the musicians always sit together with the other musicians that are in their 'instrument family.' " 

While I take the picture around for the children to see up close I point out that there are musicians playing violins and flutes, drums, and even trumpets. So, the people playing violins sit next to each other and the ones playing trumpets sit next to each other... that way they sit with their "instrument family."

Then, as I show the next picture,  I tell the children:
"Today, we are going to learn about the "Brass Family" of instruments." 


ISOLATING THE CONCEPT:
"TRUMPET"

I think it is important to isolate the difficulty in every lesson I present to young children. Isolation of the difficulty is an important hallmark of the Montessori Method. (and effective teaching!)  This is when I show a picture of the featured instrument of the lesson, give the children the name of it (they repeat it to me) and, then I point out the basic parts of that instrument. 

For example, with the Brass Family I introduce the trumpet first. I chose it to present first because most of the children have heard of the trumpet and may have actually seen one played. 

Next, I invite the children to listen to a recording of the trumpet and this is usually very exciting for the children because the trumpet is so full of sound! In order to isolate the difficulty, I play a recording that features ONLY the trumpet. Here's a link to a recording of just a trumpet: "Music-Trumpet Fanfare".


EXTENSIONS

There are also some fun ways to embellish this lesson. I have a collection of miniatures of the Instruments of the Orchestra, and this gives me the opportunity to allow each child to touch and see up close the parts of the instrument. (Ex: The Basic Parts of the Trumpet are 1) Mouthpiece, 2) Bell, 3) Buttons.) 


I like to offer concrete experiences whenever I can and these little miniature instruments are a fun hands-on experience for the children. Later,  the children will enjoy making little Montessori-style booklets  with "Parts of the Trumpet" as an individualized activity during work time.

Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

The miniatures I use are a bit on the expensive side because they are authentic replicas and even come with little black cases, just like the real thing. For a tighter budget, you might consider providing one miniature instrument as an example from each of the four Instrument Families. For example:
  • Brass Family: Miniature Trumpet
  • String Family: Miniature Violin
  • Woodwind Family: Miniature Flute
  • Percussion Family: Miniature Snare Drum

At times, I have also brought in the actual instrument (since I happen to own a trumpet, violin, and a flute), and each child can examine the real thing! Your families might be able to help out here, as I have often discovered that a parent, or an older sibling happens to play the flute (or violin, trumpet, etc) and is willing to bring it in for the children to examine at music circle time.

Even better, there have been times when I was able to invite a local musician (often a friend, family member of a child in my group,  or even someone who plays in the local high school marching band) who has been willing to visit our group and play for us!  

MONTESSORI "SENSITIVE PERIOD FOR 
SMALL OBJECTS"

Below is a quick video that will give you a glimpse of how I usually introduce the Brass instruments to the children. Over the years, I have collected little miniatures of the Instruments of the Orchestra Families. If you know anything about Preschool children...you probably know that they love miniatures! In fact, Dr. Montessori includes an attraction to small objects as one of the Sensitive Periods for children in early childhood development.

CONCRETE EXPERIENCES LEADING TO 
ABSTRACT UNDERSTANDING 

And, I found a few years ago, that offering miniatures of the Instruments of the Orchestra was a great way for the children to really see and feel the parts of an instrument...especially instruments that they might not have ever seen up close and in real life. (like the tuba for example!) This gives them a concrete object to associate with the name and sound of the particular instrument. 

Of course, these miniatures are not real and don't make a sound. For that reason, I always give a quick lesson on the difference between "Real and Model" so that children gain an understanding of why these miniatures don't actually have moving parts or make sounds. Even so, these little instrument models have been very popular with the children in my groups over the years. They ask for them over and over!

CLICK to view my fun little video with the children at Kiran's Montessori!




EXPERIENCING THE SOUND THROUGH 
MOVEMENT

As you can see in the video, we started with a fun movement activity (marching) since it is so easy to provide Brass Band Marching Music that features the trumpet, trombone, french horn and tuba.

Photo by Kiran at Kiran's Montessori School

In my Montessori Music Lessons, we always have an active one-minute Movement Activity so that the children can really absorb the featured music concept of the lesson through bodily movement. Once again, movement is a key component of learning that is always included in a Montessori-style lesson of any kind for young children. 

From Dr. Montessori:

“To have a vision of the cosmic plan, in which every form of life depends on directed movements which have effects beyond their conscious aim, is to understand the child’s work and be able to guide it better.” – Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind, p. 147.

SENSORIAL LEARNING THROUGH 
THE AUDITORY SENSE

Later in the lesson, the children have a Focused Listening Activity when they gently rub their ears around the edges to sensitize them, and then listen to a short recorded excerpt of the featured instrument. 

I consider this an important component of any music lesson because it sharpens the auditory sense which is crucial for developing skills for playing music or attending a musical performance when the child is older. And, there are added benefits for young children: Focused Listening Activities help young children develop concentration and listening skills which are so important in all academic learning.

THE IMPORTANCE OF 
"MAKING" OF MUSIC

For a successful music lesson, I recommend a few minutes dedicated to playing simple rhythm instruments together while accompanying familiar songs and simple rhythm patterns. Many studies regarding the various cognitive benefits of early music experiences have concluded that what truly benefits the child is the "doing of music." 

You can read more on this in my Blog article: It's The "Making of Music" That Is Important! Making music by playing simple instruments is the key to success and it is also very engaging for young children! 

The rhythm instruments I chose for the "Brass Family Lessons" are finger cymbals since they happen to be made of brass. Each child gets a set of  finger cymbals to explore and make music!
I've been working on my second On-Line eCourse that will make a perfect addition to your summer learning activities for yourself and your group! Starts in June 2017.


You can learn more about this upcoming Musically Montessori eCourse, "Instruments of the Orchestra in Twelve Lessons" by clicking here: Magical Movement Company Training. And, when you place your name on my waiting list for the course, you will be receiving my email updates for the course with a special code for taking 25% off the regular price for the first ten students to enroll!

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Thanks again for visiting my blog today! Scroll down to see more of my Families of the Orchestra articles that you might enjoy reading, too. Just click on the picture to link to each Blog article.

My article is part of the Montessori Monday Link-up at the Living Montessori Now Site where you'll find lots of Montessori resources from educators from all over the world. Click here to check it out!


Little Children Enjoying the Excitement of the Brass Instruments!


        Little Kids and the Fancy French Horn!


IT'S THE MAKING OF MUSIC THAT'S SO IMPORTANT: 
20 MORE FAVORITE LITTLE KIDS SONGS THAT TEACH MUSIC CONCEPTS!

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