All posts in kids music

A look back at our past concerts

Each year the Shine School of Music in Barcelona hosts a concert. It’s a unique opportunity for students to perform for a live audience, and get a taste or experience of performing for a crowd and certainly a chance to show off what they have accomplished with their teachers.

Our concerts have grown, from one small concert once a year to now a series of concerts during the year, and each one just gets better and better! As we get ready for our first online music concert, we want to take a look back at some of our student’s and teacher’s performances over the years.

We hope that you tune in with us for the concert this year. It will be a first for us, in that it will be streamed online. We really look forward to what our talented students and teachers have put together. You can set up a reminder by visiting the video HERE and even make a watch party with friends!

Introducing the Piano

Pianos are renowned the world over, despite being just over 300 years old. A relatively short rise to fame compared to that of the guitar, whose beginnings can be traced back to around 3000 years ago. And yet they have been a prominent part of society almost since they were created. Today the piano is still often found in middle and upper class homes, and taught at schools across the world. In china alone, a survey counted over 40 million children learning to play the piano in 2015.

Considered a vital instrument for musical learning, the piano is here to stay. This is hardly surprising, as pianos have been found to enhance our performance in numerous ways, and brain imaging has shown that playing the piano actually physically changes our brain, forming more connections between both the left and right hemispheres.
Pianists are a step ahead of the game in problem solving, language, spontaneity, decision making and social behavior. It’s no mental leap then, that parents and teachers alike would encourage learning the piano.

Pianos have opened the doors to music for many people, they are relatively straightforward to understand and play. They provide an important basis of musical knowledge and have become a stepping stone, often allowing musicians to move onto other instruments.

For many years pianos brought music into homes and the lives of people. Forming such an important role in our social history, the instrument has easily found its way into popular culture. Movies, books and musicians highlight it as a magical and versatile instrument.

Read more about the history of Pianos on our Instrument Rental Website. If you live in Barcelona, we rent pianos to students, or anyone who wishes to play at home. Living in a city with limited space means that having a piano at home is a bit of a luxury, but the rental program takes care of a number of issues. There is no longer a huge initial investment. A delivery service bring the piano to your door and removes it when you no longer need it or want to use it. Phew!

Having a piano in the house has benefitted many of our students during the lock down. Keeping fingers nimble and it’s also as an intelligent way to pass the time. Playing the piano is a workout for your brain!

Before the pandemic our pianos made appearances in various concerts across the city from small private functions to large orchestras in the Palau de la Música. They have been played as brides walk down the aisles up and down the coast of Barcelona. A piano certainly adds a special touch to any event. As we slowly start to move forward again, and places begin to open, we hope that our pianos bring joy to many more people, and music begins to appear in the public quarters of Spain.

Did you know that most of the pianos we use at the school are digital pianos? By all appearances they seem to be acoustic pianos. But what is the difference really?

Digital pianos are electronic keyboards which have been developed to mimic acoustic pianos. Technological advances mean digital pianos now sound and feel (almost) like classical acoustic pianos, but with the convenience of being portable and not requiring fine tuning. 

Digital Pianos can also easily be amplified for concerts or connected to headphones for playing at home. Digital pianos are usually cheaper than regular acoustic pianos, but their advantages often outweigh the fact that they may not feel or look exactly like an acoustic piano, and they are rapidly becoming the instrument of choice for the modern day classical pianist.

These pianos accomplish all that through a variety of methods, from weighted keys to built in sound quality. And no, a digital piano is not a keyboard. There are unique differences! If you are intrigued you can read an in-depth explanation here.

The guitar may have taken over in popularity, but the piano is a key stake holder in the world of popular music, with the likes of Alicia Keys, Elton John, John Legend and Lady Gaga all performing pop music on the instrument.

The piano is widely used as an important classical instrument, forming part of symphony orchestras across the world. And the classical pieces are still hugely popular with pianists such as Louis Lortie known as one of the best interpreters of Beethoven, Chopin and Ravel.

The piano has been used in all kinds of music, from jazz and classical to rock and pop. It’s a versatile instrument, and if you are interested in lessons in the piano, our teachers are talented professionals who can help you accomplish your musical dreams!

Sound Experiments for kids

Exploring the science of sound with kids is both interesting and fun! So what is sound?

Sound is a vibration that grows as an acoustic wave, through a medium like gas, liquid or solid. We interpret these vibrations and waves via our ears and brains. Only acoustic waves that have frequencies lying between about 20 Hz and 20 kHz can be heard by humans. Sound waves above 20 kHz are known as ultrasound and are not audible to humans. Sound waves below 20 Hz are known as infrasound. Different animal species have varying hearing ranges.

Sound waves travel into our ear canals until they reach the eardrum. The eardrum passes the acoustic vibrations through the middle ear bones and into the inner ear. The inner ear is shaped like a tiny snail and called the cochlea. Inside the cochlea, there are thousands of tiny cells that look like little hairs. These cells change the vibrations into electrical signals that are sent into our brains through the hearing nerve. The brain tells you that you are hearing a sound and what that sound is.(source)

With the following fun experiments you can demonstrate sound and experiment with music!

Xylophone Water Glasses

Musical instruments are so much fun to make! We made a few in an older post which you can find here.

This sound activity shows how different amounts of water in containers change the pitch of the sound created.

Supplies Needed:

  • 4 empty glasses
  • Water
  • Wooden spoon

What to Do:

1. Fill each glass with varying amounts of water.

2. Add a few drops of food coloring to each glass to give it a fun twist.

3. Using the spoon,  tap the outside or top of each glass. What sounds are being made? Which glasses have the highest or lowest pitch?

Play around with the water levels in each glass and experiment with pitch! You can even add more glasses and try to create your own songs. Try simple songs like “Twinkle, twinkle little star.”

Listen to Sounds Travel Underwater

Sound travels well through air, but it travels even better through water! This easy sound experiment is best outside on a terrace or balcony, or even perhaps in the bath. The best of course is if you can do it underwater in a pool or a beach.

Supplies Needed:

  • A bucket filled with water
  • A large plastic water or soda bottle
  • At least 2 kitchen knives/spoons
  • Scissors or sharp knife to cut the bottle

What to Do:

1. After filling the bucket with water, take a sharp knife or kitchen scissors and cut off the bottom of the plastic water bottle. Take the cap is off of the bottle.

2. Instruct your child to place the bottle in the water so that the cut bottom is in the water. Your child will then put his or her ear to the top of the bottle to listen.

3. Using the kitchen knives, clang them together to make a sound, but do this in the bucket of water as your child is listening. What does your child hear?

Your child has probably noticed that the sound of the clanging is loud and clear. Sound travels faster through water than in the air, and animals that live underwater are able to hear sound clearly. Whales and dolphins are well known to make sounds and communicate underwater. In fact you can hear whale sounds several kilometers away.

Whales can also emit low frequency sound waves which we cannot hear. These sound waves can travel very far in water without losing energy. Researchers believe that some of these low frequency sounds can travel more than 16,000 km in some levels of the ocean! Imagine being able to hear noises coming from that far away!

If you go to the beach this summer or are in a pool, try diving under the water and having someone make noise underwater. It’s interesting to use your sense of hearing in this way.

In some spas, they even play relaxing music in the pool water using underwater microphones. You can float with your ears submerged and listen to the music.

Paper Cup Classic

Supplies Needed:

  • 2 paper cups
  • Long string, like fishing line, kite string
  • A sharp pencil or needle to poke holes in the cups
  • Scissors

What to Do:

1. Start by cutting a long piece of string of at least 10 meters.

2. Poke a small hole at the bottom of each cup.

3. Using each end of the string, thread it through the bottoms of the cups, tying a large knot so that the string does not fall out of the cup. If you make the holes too large, use a washer or paper clip to hold the string in place so that it does not pull out of the cup.

4. Now stand further enough apart so that the string stretches taught between you. Be sure that the string does not touch any other object and that it remains suspended in air as you complete the experiment.

5. Taking turns, talk into the cup, while the other person listens by putting the cup to their ear. Tell your child to repeat what he or she hears after you have spoken and do the same in return!

After the experiment, explain to your child what is happening: sound waves created by talking through the cup travel through the line to the other end, converting back to sound on the opposite side!

source for the experiments, find more here: https://www.kidsacademy.mobi/storytime/sound-science-experiments/

Ernst Florens Friedrich Chladni was a German physicist and musician. Labeled the father of acoustics, he is renowned for his research on vibrating plates and the calculation of the speed of sound for different gases. (wikipedia)

Chladni used metal plate covered in sand which he vibrated with a violin bow, and saw how the sand created various patterns depending on the kind of vibration.

Make your own Chladni Vibration Plate!

Supplies Needed:

  • A bowl or tub
  • plastic wrap or wax paper
  • an elastic band or sticky tape
  • salt
  • a mini portable bluetooth or wireless speaker

What to Do:

  1. Turn your speaker on and place it inside the bowl. Your bowl needs to be big enough that the speaker sits inside.
  2. Cover the top of the bowl with your plastic wrap or wax paper, making sure that it is taught and stretched evenly across without any wrinkles. Hold it in place with the elastic band or some pieces of sticking tape.
  3. Sprinkle some salt onto the top.
  4. Choose a song with a lot of bass or use the following video to play on the speaker in the bowl.

Watch to see what happens! Your child should be delighted at the way the salt dances on top of the bowl when the bass vibrates the plastic or wax covering.

Don’t forget, we rent instruments and offer online music lessons! Contact us!

5 Fun Experiments with Chrome Music Lab

You can play on your phone or tablet, even your computer, with some of the exciting musical experiments by Chrome Music Lab. Chrome Music Lab is, in their own words, “a website that makes learning music more accessible through fun, hands-on experiments”.

Teachers have been using it in their classrooms to explore music with their students. You can make your own songs and sounds with many of the interactive elements of the various “labs”. And if you are a coder you can even build your own to add to the lab. Here is a quick look at some of our favourites.

Make your own Rhythm by choosing and placing different drum effects.

Play and listen to the various oscillations by tapping on the little characters.

Record your voice and speed up and decrease the sounds.

One of the most advanced “experiments” you can make and play your own songs!

Experiment with the Minor and Major chords on this simulation keyboard.

 

Check out this song created using the Song Maker experiment.

Visit the Chrome Music lab, and let us know which one was your favorite.

 

 

It’s time to put together your own music band!

What could be better than creating your own band with instruments built at home?
Children love noise and creating sounds. Spent time together to create something new and fun. Be creative and learn at the same time!
Build instruments together with your family, start discovering different sounds and how to create them by playing on your new instruments! Now you can make your own songs just by using your imagination and creativity … Hey Presto! You have your own band!

1. Maracas made from old plastic Easter eggs:

Many of us keep plastic eggs from last Easter and don’t know what to do with them. Well here is the perfect way to reuse them! All you and your child should do is collect some seeds, stones  or other similar elements that can generate sound (if you don’t have anything on hand you can use coins!). Put them inside the eggs. Tape them to keep them from opening. Decorate them with colored paper or paint. Get some tape to make sure the eggs don’t pop open as you shake them. You can even use the plastic “shells” from Kinder eggs. If you want to be fancy, tape plastic cutlery to the egg to make a handle.

2. Drums made from empty containers:

Search your home for containers ( anything from chips to cereal, even tupperware works), they will be your drums. Making them is very simple: you cover the container with paper and decorate the sides it as you like. Then you must make the skin of the drum. For that choose the material you want. You can experience different sounds depending on what you use: aluminum foil, cloth and plain paper. Wax paper that your mom uses for baking might work really well! Tape this paper over the top of your container. Two pencils can work as your drumsticks. Begin tapping the top of your container and see what sounds your drums make. You can even attach a string and hang your drum around your neck. Make a marching band, and march around you house to the beat of your drum!

3. Guitar made with a shoe box:

To make your own guitar you will only need a shoe box, glue and elastic bands. Cut a round hole in the lid of the shoe box. Glue the lid to the box so it won’t come off. When it dries, stretch the rubber bands across the box. Try it and find out what it sounds like! You can have fun painting and decorating your guitar.

thanks to https://www.parents.com/fun/arts-crafts/kid/craft-guitar/

4. Handmade Shakers / Shakers with pebbles or beans:

Use any cylindrical container: these can be tubes of potato chips, toilet or paper rolls, or empty soda cans. You’re going to need crayons, glue, paper, and dried beans (or any dried seeds, like rice or lentils). Cover the cylinder with the paper, decorate it with crayons as you like. Place the dried beans inside and seal both ends with paper, making sure it is well closed by gluing it on o using tape.Try shaking them! The different seeds on the inside make different sounds!

5. Harmonicas made with combs:

Search your house for hair combs (different colors if possible) and sheets of waxed paper. Fold the paper over the teeth of the comb, making it equal on each side. The side of the paper that has wax should be away from you. Now you can blow on the comb and play your homemade harmonica! The vibrations on the paper make the sound! Try adding some words or humming as you blow to change the sound!

 

6. Symbols made with kitchen pot lids:

To make these fun and noisy instruments, you must use two pot lids and a little ribbon or thread. You tie the ribbon around the handles of the lids and you will have the dishes ready to use. Use these instruments sparingly and with care! They work well as the final “BANG!” at the end of your song!

7. Mini Lid Banjo:

These little instruments are super easy to make. For each mini banjo you will need a wooden stick (an ice cream stick works well, otherwise cut a similar shape from cardboard), 4 rubber bands (small ones), adhesive tape and glue. Place the four mini elastic bands over the lid and secure it in place with a piece of tape. You can decorate the wooden stick with printed ribbon or paint it. You can use duct tape or industrial masking tape to secure the elastic bands and the “stick” to the lid. Decorate your Banjo handle. Start plucking! What sounds does your banjo make?

Thanks for the inspiration from https://www.thecrafttrain.com/mini-lid-banjos/

It’s awesome for little ones to build their own instruments and to experiment with sounds. These activities are great for developing imagination, creativity, as well as working important motor skills by playing and learning music. Building instruments and playing them is great fun for adults too! Take advantage of time at home to play and learn while making a fun music band! What’s the name of your band?

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We rent instruments to families in Barcelona!