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March is Music in our Schools Month

Updated: Sep 10, 2021

March has been officially designated by the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) for the observance of Music in Our Schools Month® (MIOSM®).  During the entire month of March, music education becomes the focus of schools across the nation.

In honor of Music in Our Schools month we are highlighting key outdoor music products for schools and sharing the stories behind some inspiring outdoor music classrooms. We offer a diverse group of outdoor musical instruments which make perfect additions to an abundance of settings.

Percussion Play instruments make musical expression accessible to everyone, everywhere. There is no need for musical direction and any combination of our musical instruments can be played together harmoniously, these are enjoyable and attractive musical instruments which you’ll want to come back and play again and again.

Concerto is a line of outdoor musical equipment that lets kids of all abilities share the joy and benefits of creating music. Each instrument is designed to be played at angles and heights that are comfortable and accessible to all kids, including those with mobility devices. Concerto musical instruments are an easy way to bring inclusive play to any playground.

Music is found in every known culture, past and present and has evolved to become a fundamental component of human life. Music is naturally the most universal language at our disposal and Percussion Play and Concerto instruments are effortlessly played and enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities. Differences in age, gender, ethnic or linguistic background have no place in music and obstacles present in other activities defined by motor and mental ability are absent where music is concerned. Our products bring the fun and ease of playing percussion instruments into the outside world.

Whatever the signs say, playgrounds are not only for children. Everyone has the potential to make music and given the opportunity to get hands-on experience of playing our instruments allows everyone to realize how truly gratifying it is to make music together.

Play and time outside is vital for children to digest what has been learnt in school and to do a different kind of learning. It is through play that children first learn how to make decisions, solve problems, exert self-control, and follow rules. Play gives children a chance to find and develop a connection to their own self-identified and self-guided interests. Children learn to handle their emotions, including anger and fear, during play. Play helps children make friends and learn to get along with each other as equals. Most importantly, play is a source of happiness.

However, limiting outdoor playgrounds to gross motor activities falls way short of the potential of outdoor areas to be rich play and learning environments for children. Music in a free-play environment, where it’s hands-on and interactive, will not only encourage children’s musical self-expression it will help self-confidence and self-esteem to grow and grow. Creating areas for music and sound exploration outdoors will help integrate music into the everyday experience of the children.

Cleo L. Craig Child Development Laboratory (CDL) at Oklahoma State University have introduced outdoor musical instruments to the new ‘Nature Outdoor Learning Environment’

The CDL in the College of Human Sciences provides a research-based, early childhood leaning environment to approximately 70 children during the school year.  Oklahoma State University students utilize the lab for observation, research or practicums each week.  Undergrad and graduate students from human development and family science, nutritional sciences, communication sciences and disorders, health and human performance, recreation management and recreational therapy take advantage of the opportunity to learn from OSU’s youngest students.

College of Human Sciences Dean Stephan Wilson wanted to create a cutting edge ‘outdoor classroom’ for teaching, learning and research and to foster lifelong learners with strong imaginations and an appreciation for the outdoors.

“One of the most important tenets of early childhood education is that children learn best through free play and discovery,” Wilson says.  “Research shows a strong connection between brain development and opportunities to participate in outdoor activity.  The Return to Nature Outdoor Classroom will allow the children to play, explore and interact with the natural world, enhancing the development of their independence and autonomy.  It will unleash children’s imaginations and senses of wonder through a variety of sensory and learning stations.”

The 13,750 square-feet of outdoor educational play space provides children enrolled in the CDL unique opportunities to experience nature while seemingly just playing.  A wooden windmill is the focal point of the outdoor classroom underneath which is a large music and movement area to allow the exploration of sound, music and musical instruments.  The entry and gathering area includes shaded and flexible seating, allowing the space to be used for children to learn and teachers to observe.  Other features include a rain garden, sandy digging spaces, a fun walking bridge plus a climbing adventure area to help children test their boundaries and become expert climbers.

Examples of Schools Integrating Music into their Playscapes

J.C. Crumpton Elementary School – Marina, CA

Principal Sarah Hudson wanted to install something fun and interactive for her kindergarten students.  Miracle Playsystems helped her vision come to life with the installation of an ensemble of musical instruments from Percussion Play.

Percussion Play’s Quintet Ensemble of musical instruments offers a well-rounded range of tones and resonance.  Anyone can take the stage and play improvised music with no tuition or musical ability.  This pentatonic set offers a varied range of tones, and sounds blend effortlessly into beautiful music. Designed to save our customers money when ordering a group of instruments and to help ensure the combination of instruments sound harmonious and complimentary, these ensembles are a great way to get your outdoor music project moving quickly and easily.

The set includes the Cherub which has melodious bells that ring aloud with 11 tubular bells made from hand tuned, heavy duty anodized aluminum.  It has often been called The Wing as when mirrored, it closely resembles the wings of an Angel.  Also included is the Sansa-Rimba, a bright, stimulating, colorful instrument which is a clever blend of two African instruments; the Sansa (thumb-piano) and a Marimba (xylophone).  The Akadinda is the ideal instrument for both adults and children to learn about rhythm and melody in a big way!  It’s super fun to play with huge resilient notes made from Ipe notes which give a natural mellow, low tone.  It’s large and loud which is perfect for a kindergarten playground.  The Tubular Bells are also included in the ensemble.  They are a visual and sonic delight for all ages.  The bells produce a deep low tone which you can feel as well as hear.  They are simple yet striking.  Finally, the Rainbow Sambas are an eye-catching set of five outdoor drums which make a wonderful friendly inviting vibe when played.  The sambas are fun and easy to play whatever the age and will produce lots of creative musical energy, perfect for kindergarteners!

The project was funded in part by a grant from the Monterey Peninsula Regional Parks District.

Watch this video of the students having fun making music at recess time.

Sonoma Country Day School – Santa Rosa, CA

Sonoma County Day School is an independent TK-8 college preparatory school in Sonoma County.  SCDS’s academic program is rich in fine and performing arts, music, world languages, and social and emotional learning.  According to their website, “Music holds a place of high value at SCDS.  Our program’s purpose is to awaken and develop the inherent musicality present in every child, not just the talented few.” By the time the students graduate, the students read music and play a musical instrument.  Since music is such a large part of the school’s focus and curriculum, it seemed natural to incorporate music into the play environment as well.

The pieces included the Rainbow Sambas with their eye-catching colors and warm, friendly inviting vibe.  They bring a unique tone to the playground and guarantee smiles.  The Sonora’s melodious bells chime out loud with 21 tubular bells made from hand tuned, heavy duty anodized aluminum.  The modern design is based on a wave effect.  It really stands out in the crowd!  Finally the Tubular Bells are a set of 7 chimes that are a visual and sonic delight for all ages!  They produce a deep low tone which you can feel as well as hear.  They add an architectural feature to the outdoor experience.

Contact us today to see how we can enrich your play environment through music!

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