Magazine article The Canadian Music Educator

Fun with Found Sounds (While Possibly Also Covering Curricular Expectations)

Magazine article The Canadian Music Educator

Fun with Found Sounds (While Possibly Also Covering Curricular Expectations)

Article excerpt

I have spent a few years now showing students and teachers (as well as being shown by them) that music classrooms can be filled with fun original music making on the first day of class and even within the first ten minutes! This fall I'm back teaching full time in a public board after two years on a leave working in other programs. I must admit, with the hustle and bustle of being back, it took me three weeks to remember to have fun. I started to let the daily grind get in way of the enjoyment of music education, for both my students and me. I also forgot that it is possible to cover curricular expectations with that same fun. What could be more fun than improvising and composing, making something original from scratch?

Finding safe "ways-in" to engaging individual creativity through improvising and composing music can be tough. Often voices, instruments and ensembles bring with them traditions that carry a "right" and "wrong" way to listen and make sounds. Incorporating something as simple as "found sounds" into the classroom can shed those rights and wrongs and make way for individually creative listening and composing. Here are ways my students and I have used found sounds in the classroom.

Sound and Tell

Have students bring in an "interesting sound" (this is a suggestion in Schafer's Hearsing1). When presenting these, have the rest of the class close their eyes and listen. Their tendency might be to guess the object, but encouraging description of the sound (high, low, fast, slow, loud, quite, long, short, two or more sounds, etc.) can provide a way into engaged creative listening with all sounds. This can also begin practice in pitch recognition and hearing more than one sound at once.


Have students bring in an "even more interesting sounding object" or one that makes use of two or more of our sound contrasts (referred to in Winter 2011 issue).


What makes a sound interesting? Which might be most interesting? How easy was it to guess the object?

Sound Sentences

Have students (in groups) create the most pleasing sound "sentence" with their objects. Encourage revision and rehearsal. Performances could be given a certain "weight" with focused listening before the start. This is a "way-in" to composing melodies as it is practice in listening, reflecting and revising with sound. …

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