Having been to the Horniman before with our Fairbeats kids, we were excited to finally get our mits on the musical exhibits. The kids (and adults) got to try out all the instruments, subsequently picking their favourites. This music sharing was really special as our Fairbeats mothers joined in. One mother picked out a shaker from Nigeria (her homeland) that symbolized parties and carnivals. Another picked out an Indian instrument that was made from recycled spoons, as she liked the high, soft sound of it.
In the afternoon we went on an adventure to the Sound Garden. For the warm-up we were conductors, each taking it in turns to lead our own musical piece using our drum orchestra (each child to one pitched drum). I taught them signals for loud and soft, spikey and smooth, and they turned out to be true pros at bringing off the orchestra all together. I find conducting exercises useful for group focus, developing leadership and for simply encouraging kids to take ownership of their music, and create what they want to hear.
As well as nine pitched drums, the Sound Garden had huge Xylophones and various other instruments that were fun to hit. I decided I wanted to cover as much literal ground as was possible. There was only one way this could be achieved- we were going to have to be musical detectives. The Fairbeats lot were given a clue that they had to solve, for example, ‘Up above the world so high, like a diamond in the sky…What am I?’ Once solved, the kids sped away trying out various instruments. The results were very imaginative and thoughtful- even though they all had different answers they were all able to justify their findings (just like a true detective).
The museum really has an explorer feel; everything from the range of artifacts to the green setting with the London skyline as a backdrop. The kids were perfect explorers- never too shy to try one of the instruments as the excitement and anticipation for the sound was just too much. It really was a great day- especially as we had the Mother Explorers join the Fairbeat Music Gang.