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TEACHERS:  We have a full line of Educational Materials developed specifically for teaching music with the Tubes.

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Here are some suggestions that we have developed for music teachers working with groups.  We also suggest you check out the basic INSTRUCTIONS if you have not already done so.

Of course, just plain ol' experimenting is how a lot of these ideas developed, so we always encourage that.  Some of my favorite things to show people when we demo the tubes we got from kids who simply had the opportunity to express their own creativity.  The suggestions below do not just address the rhythmic side, because the tuned nature of the tubes also brings melody and harmony instantly into reach. (Also available for download: Gettin' Whacky Facilitator's Handbook.)


Play simple songs as you would with a bell choir, each tube playing when its note appears in the song in written music.

Do simple "call and response" for different rhythmic phrases.  Have the children take turns doing the call.  (A favorite is always "Shave and a hair cut, two bits!".)
Assign a different ostinato, or rhythmic pattern, to different notes and build a song.  Initiate the pattern until the children with that note can play it consistently, then the next note, and so on.  This process can be done with or without the musical notation or as a means to demonstrate what the musical notation means.  As an example, using the pentatonic version, the following patterns could be played (where the counts are quarter notes, the "&" eighth notes and "e" and "a" sixteenth notes):
  This exercise could be broken down into measures.  First, just do measure 1 over and over.  When that is comfortable, do just measure 2 over and over.  Depending on the age group, the next jump to putting the two measures together and repeating (i.e., 1 becomes 3, 5, etc., and 2 becomes 4, 6 etc.) will become somewhat more difficult because of the change in patterns between the two measures  
4).  BUILDING A SONG - PAIRS OF TUBES  (Simpler rhythm in example)
A variation on the above, which works nicely, is to demonstrate the patterns
for two notes at a time as a simple call and response of one note to the other. 
Then move on to the next pair, and perhaps lengthen the phrase of each pair
(say 2 beats instead of 1).  Repeat for the third pair with yet a longer phrase
(say a full measure).

This way one can hold a note in each hand, and the assigned rhythmic
patterns are covered in three steps, instead of 6.  This again works particularly
well for the pentatonic version as all the note combinations will sound fine, and
one needn't be concerned about how the subsequent pair patterns interact with
the previous ones.  Here's another example to illustrate:

Another advantage to handing out the parts this way is the pulse is completely established by the first two parts (i.e., one of the notes is playing on each downbeat).  Contrast this to the exercise in 3) where the C' (in the first measure) is playing only on the first beat.  What is establishing the pulse for the remaining beats?  One could count it out, or assign the C' and the C" at the same time and again have a note on each beat .

By the way, when these kinds of exercises are used in large groups just for the effect of quickly creating music by repeating patterns, most "facilitators" just call out the colors (red, orange, yellow, green, purple, short red) for the six pentatonic notes above.  In fact, people tend to get it much more quickly than working with the notes, but in an educational environment surely some emphasis on the notes is merited.

Of course, it's always great to allow the kids to be creative by encouraging them to experiment.  For example, once a pattern is established, suggest that they add or subtract a note to begin to make their own song, or to simply "make up their own".

With a smaller group, particularly if they have already had some experience with the tubes, try establishing the pulse and let the kids make up their own song entirely.  Or, just as in the Call and Response above, allow a child to create the pattern for each particular note and have the rest of the children with that note follow along.

This may be obvious, but get the kids moving: they can walk in place with the count to help them establish the rhythm.  If the structure of the room permits, lead from the center as they form a circle at a comfortable distance.  They could then even move in a circle with the song.

After the kids have had a little experience with the tubes, break them into smaller groups to create their own songs (however they want to do that!) and save some time at the end for the groups to perform what they created for the class.

Obviously we're just scratching the surface here, but this is enough material to get you started and spur some ideas of your own.  Please feel free to share them with us or just let us know how it's going.  Have fun!

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