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Lesson Plans


Re: maracas

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
dj (djash)
Mon, 18 Oct 1999 20:30:16 -0400


Heather,
Below is a copy of a brief intro to making maracas. I did a lot of research
on art from Haiti and put together a much more involved follow up on the
island arts. I don't know how involved you want to get. I teach a cultural
arts and crafts class and I get rather into the history of the peoples and
the meaning of their art etc. (I am teaching hs students.) A book called ART
FROM MANY HANDS - I got it through Amazon.com, but Sax has it too is GREAT!
(The book suggestion came from this group! as did the light bulb method) My
art kids are making the maracas and in December some of them will be chosen
to play a song with the band and one with the choir at the Winter concert.
The maracas have to be creative, sound "nice" and their classroom
participation grade has to be extremely high to get the privilege of being in
the concert. The cool part is that our band is going to Cleveland to perform
in a Spring competition (ie Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame).... the art kids that
perform in the Winter concert are invited to go to Cleveland also. We are the
Visual and Performing Arts Department and this is the first time we have ever
done anything like this before (working together). I'm excited...........
besides, I want to go to the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame too!!!!! :-)
Let me know what you think about the lesson.
Donna

ISLAND MARACAS
Music plays an important part in the lives of the people of the Caribbean
Islands. It is a rich mixture of many cultures, including Indian, Spanish,
African, French, British and American. From the Indians came two instruments
that were developed in pre-Columbian times and are still in use today: the
guito and the maraca. The guito (gwee-roh) is made from a hollow bottle gourd
that has lines incised on it. When the tines of a metal fork are scraped over
the ridges, it makes a rasping sound. Maracas were used by Indians throughout
the islands and in Mexico and South America as well. They are made of hollow
gourds or the large, hard-shelled fruit of the calabash tree. Small seeds are
put in the gourd while it is green. Maracas are usually used in pairs and are
shaken to the rhythm of a dance or to accompany a song.

Each island has its own particular musical heritage resulting in different
styles, but much of the music played and sung is strongly African in origin
with Spanish overtones. Under Spanish rule, slaves were not allowed to talk
while they were working but they could sing. They developed songs to record
history and keep it alive, to pass information, and to comment on current
events. This is a tradition that has carried on. There are religious songs,
love songs and work songs, but perhaps one earmark of Caribbean songs is that
they frequently recall memorable events of the past or comment on the present
political or social conditions.

MAKING MARACAS
Blow up the balloons (do one at a time) to about 4 - 5 inches in diameter.
Tie the end to keep the air in * :-) Apply at least 4 layers of torn
newspaper dipped in paper mache' paste. The pieces should be no larger than 2
inches (max) square if there is to be a smooth surface. Do not cover the
knot. After the mache' has thoroughly dried, pop the balloon with a pair of
scissors or a pin. Remove the broken balloon.

Put a teaspoon of dried split peas, rice, other smaller seeds, or very tiny
pebbles into the hole. Insert an 11-inch piece of 1/2-inch dowel rod into the
hole and all the way up to the top of the globe. Place the maracas upright on
its handle and hammer a large headed tack through the paper mache' into the
dowel at the top. Now apply three more layers of newspaper dipped in the
mache' paste to the area where the globe joins the handle, using narrow
strips in a vertical fashion and lapping the paper well down over the cover
the tack and give added strength.

When the maracas are dry they can be painted. Use one solid base color; let
that dry before painting on the design with a fine brush. Think about your
design and relate it to the cultural lesson studied. When the design is
dried, the maracas should be protected with a coat of shellac.

MAKING MARACAS - METHOD TWO
Apply at least 4 layers of torn newspaper dipped in paper mache' paste to the
light bulbs (do one light bulb at a time). The pieces should be no larger
than 1 1/2- inches (max) square if there is to be a smooth surface. Do not
cover the very bottom of the bulb (the little knob that sticks out).

When the paper mache' is TOTALLY dried, give the light bulb a solid whack
against the edge of a hard tabletop. The glass light bulb will break and the
rattle of the pieces will create the maracas sound. Insert an 11-inch piece
of @1/2-inch dowel rod (can be a little narrower) into the hole and all the
way up to the top of the globe. Place the maracas on its side and hammer a
large headed tack through the paper mache' into the dowel at the top. Be very
careful not to spill the broken glass contents of the globe. (Work in a
two-student team for safety -one student should hold the globe steady while
the other hammers in the tack.) Now apply three more layers of newspaper
dipped in the mache' paste to the area where the globe joins the handle,
using narrow strips in a vertical fashion and lapping the paper well down
over the cover the tack and give added strength.

When the maracas are dry they can be painted. Use one solid base color; let
that dry before painting on the design with a fine brush. Think about your
design and relate it to the cultural lesson studied. When the design is
dried, the maracas should be protected with a coat of shellac.

You will notice that different art materials and the manner in which they are
applied will create different musical sounds.

Sages7 wrote:

> Could you post any of the information sent your way. I am wanting to do a
> similar lesson in the near future. I would greatly appreciate it!
>
> Thank you,
> heather :)