WOOD Makes Music: How to Make a Wooden Xylophone (Marimba), a Prompt for Creative Writing
Strategies for Success in Reaching Key ELA, Math, and Science-Standards Competencies Through Craft-making, Dramatic Play, Storytelling and Experiential Music-making.
Facilitated by J’miah Nabawi
What is WOOD Makes Music?
WOOD Makes Music! ™ involves using recycled and store-bought lumbar, wood, to make a hand-made, functional wooden xylophone known as marimba. It is an experiential craft and musical activity designed to introduce participants to the sonorous properties of wood and the application of specialized information (knowledge) to construct a musical instrument. It is also Installation Art that can be on public display at a school, community center or an interactive project outdoors when engaged outside of the classroom for art museums, public libraries and public spaces and places. The activity of construction—designing the wood that makes the frame and wooden keys, the mallets (strikers)—is intentionally designed to show a simple, handmade process done without high-tech machinery, costs, and can be easily made at home.
WOOD Makes Music! ™ is a fun “in-house (classroom)” activity that authentically engages students in a way that makes various connections to academic content related to Department of Education standards for math; science; biology; conservation, and world cultures through music and experiential musical explorations.
WOOD Makes Music! ™ is arts integration that infuses the sociology of music with performance storytelling and world cultures with academic content. It also inspires an awakening of a child’s natural, creative musicality, an inclination for storytelling; provokes adaptive designs (using watercolor, crayons, markers) that will not look the way marimbas are typically made, seen, manufactured. As a prompt for creative writing (English Language Arts/ELA), the demonstration of how the lumber (wood) and the necessary materials to construct a functional, tuned, wooden xylophone (marimba), will allow observers (students) to discuss and write about what they observed through hands-on participation, how art and science are naturally integrated, and later explore and write about topics to the history of the marimba, research topics in which cultures are involved and finally team write “How and Why” tales (how something came to be, exist. Ex: How Marimbas Came to Be or Why Clouds Are in the Sky, etc.) or about something the teacher and students themselves may suggest for eventually composing a How and Why tale similar to the How and Why tale that the presenter has told. An extended finale may end as a community event where the presenter and a “core group” of students and teachers present to the community as a daytime or evening school event.
There’s enough activity with making the marimba—designing the marimba’s finished look (using watercolor, crayons, and markers), the wood frames, keys, and mallets; making the mallets’ striker head, tying down the keys—playing the marimbas as a musical ensemble as a culminating public performance is inevitable!