Using yards of packing tape and other simple materials, students at Springer School and Center created their own musical instruments under the guidance of ethnomusicologist Dr. Craig Woodson, Springer’s 20th Norita Aplin Musician in Residence. During his weeklong visit in December, Dr. Woodson met with each class to construct a variety of instruments including one that combined a drum, horn, shaker and violin in a single instrument.
Dr. Woodson also worked closely with a group of Intermediate students who made “African talking drums” from metal cans and tape. The drums were constructed such that students could vary their pitch by pressing on tape lines that stretched the drumheads. With Dr. Woodson, these students participated in a December 16 program that re-created instruments from around the world using common items such as drinking straws, funnels, coat hangers and Styrofoam cups.
Fifth-grader Ava Meiners was surprised by the program. “I wasn’t expecting that music could be made from so many different things,” she said. Fifth-grader Ryan Parsons added, “I like that you can use recycled materials to make musical instruments.” Ella Schlick, also in fifth grade, learned that, “Kids in places around the world can make instruments with the resources around them.”
“It was such a great pleasure working with the students and staff at Springer School and Center during the week,” said Dr. Woodson. “The enthusiasm and desire to participate in the musical instrument making and drumming activities were a joy to experience every day. I appreciate the opportunity to bring my assembly and workshop programs to the school and look forward to a return visit.”
Dr. Woodson, who lives near Cleveland, Ohio, is an Applied Ethnomusicologist with a Ph.D. from UCLA, and the founder of Ethnomusic, Inc., a company that provides student and teacher programs in world music. He has performed as a percussionist in movies and on recorded albums and television, and has presented world music programs on five continents. Dr. Woodson owns 12 U.S. patents on drum technology and is the author of the Roots of Rhythm world drumming curriculum guide for K-12 teachers.
Dr. Woodson’s visit marks the 20th anniversary of the Norita Aplin Musician in Residence program, which was established in 1997 to recognize former Executive Director Dr. Norita Aplin’s 14 years of leadership at Springer.