Exploring music (cello)

My school only offers 45 min of specialist music lessons during the week. Other music is part of our units of inquiry. But even that is quite hard to arrange sometimes. So as part of a unit of the transdisciplinary theme “How we express ourselves”, we decided to share our ways of communicating creativity more than ever.

A lot of students from my class are learning at least one instrument, those who are not play football and do something else. We have cellists, violinist, pianists… all instruments I am particularly fond of.

As I was just sent these pictures from one of my students, I thought I would share the instruments we have been sharing one by one. The kids have had a lot of fun, and some of them even considered taking up an instrument.

To start with we are going to look at the cello!

As the second largest bowed string instrument, it can be a bit of a pain to transport. We do not have any musical instruments (apart from a tambourine) at school, so we either rely on teachers or students bringing in their precious musical instruments. That has its advantages, as we practice authentically to show respect for each others’ things. On the other hand, parents are usually reluctant to send anything that costs a lot of money in.

For me, the cello is a great instrument to explore in class. It is not as “delicate” as a violin, and students are quite eager to try it out. Cellos also sound wonderful as solo instruments, and give a bit of an orchestra feeling regardless.

One of the most curious moments is always when  girls, unaccustomed to  playing the cello, are finding the sitting arrangement uncomfortable. At my school, the girls wear only dresses as their school uniform, and most of them are quite used to sitting with their legs closely together. I like sharing the story of how women had to play the violin in a side-saddle position; it usually makes the kids really consider the changes that have gone through some societies.

Most of the children are usually surprised that they can actually play notes on the cello. Well, that it makes a sound other than squeaking. They quickly feel confidence and achievement, even though they have never played before.

If you have a cellist in class, it is great to have them take the lead, even if you, as a teacher, play yourself. It is amazing to see how determined and passionate some of these young musicians are.
In this particular instance in the photographs, a young girl from my class used the time to practice for an upcoming concert at Teatro Puccini in Fiesole. She was quite happy to have the class as her try-out audience and gather some feedback.

It’s also a great opportunity for the musicians to share their knowledge, and for others to appreciate a) the different art forms we use and b) the different ways in which we all express ourselves best.
In a talk, this student explained both her passion for playing the cello, and the techniques.

Thanks to the students in my Grade 3 and 4, who made that particular sharing afternoon such fun.
Thanks to the great musicians for sharing their passion.
Thanks to the student who managed to take all these photographs.

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