Wednesday, 1 April 2009
Many schools still have a xylophone knocking about. I have seen some fine examples but, with the steady rise in popularity of the electronic keyboard, they have fallen into disuse. Their presence is the result either of historical accident or of an appealing photograph in a catalogue. Along with the cabassas, guiros, vibra-slaps and glockenspiels they have become musical toys largely ignored by the school music curriculum for anything beyond colour and sound-effects. Teachers recognise the beauty of the xylophone: a wooden instrument in an increasingly plastic world with a real sound of its own. But how can you use them today?
April's free music game at www.playwithsound.com is based on West African balafon technique. I have taught it to primary and secondary-aged children as well as adults. It's versatile, educational and very interactive. It's an instant compositional tool. It provides a new avenue of approach to a number of issues, musical and otherwise. And that's largely because it's great fun.