Musical Keyboard Inquiry

In addition to being a PYP Grade 6 teacher, I also teach music to Grades 4-6, in addition to my own homeroom. Last year, I taught music to Grades 1-6, but as the school is grows, the schedule gets a bit tighter.

The fourth graders are just beginning their musical keyboard study, so I thought we could set the stage with a listening-based inquiry.
In the activity, we listened to recordings of various keyboard instruments from hurdy-gurdy to minimoog for which I had gathered YouTube links. After each listen, students responded to the question:
How do you think it produces sound?

photo cc Finchcocks Musical Museum

To clarify, we reviewed how the instrument they practiced last year, the recorder, produces sound. They had no problem coming up with important words like ‘blow’, ‘air’, ‘holes’, and ‘whistle’, so we started the survey of keyboard instruments.

After listening to each example, I typed the key words in their responses as they called them out. We’re about halfway finished. Here’s the google doc I’m using to organize it.

Finally, we will listen again and watch the videos of the recordings and discuss. I’m very impressed with the accuracy of their observations and hope that they are gaining a good understanding of the variety and versatility of keyboard instruments.

In their first proper piano lesson, it will be fun to open the lid of our grand piano and watch the internal mechanisms, especially after thinking about it purely conceptually. Though if only I had a clavichord…

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Bart Miller

Father, Teacher, Composer, Philosopher

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