Tube Beat Or Not Tube Beat?

Discovering Sound through Rhythm and Movement
1. Project Summary

I first experienced beat tubes (capped PVC tubes that produce distinct pitch) while playing in the ensemble of fellow Young Audiences artist Kevin Martin. Inspired by their simplicity and immediate impact on students, I worked with a team of fifth and sixth grader teachers to begin an arts-integrated beat tube residency. Our team began with the essential question "What is sound?" Through interacting with and playing the beat tubes, students experienced the propagation of sound while applying principles of music and dance during a culminating group performance.

2. Portfolio Purpose And Rational

Beat tubes offer a wealth of possibilities for further exploration of arts-integrated teaching. As an instrument, beat tubes are linked in heritage to Tamboo Bamboo in Trinidad as well as numerous folk music traditions surrounding the pounding of grain into flour. This case study is submitted in the hopes of inspiring other educators to experiment with beat tubes.

3. Overall Conclusions

Students learned that the phenomenon of sound can be understood as patterns of vibration through a medium- usually air. These patterns of vibration are called "sound waves." "Pitch" and "volume" are aspects of sound waves that can be manipulated by musicians to express ideas and feelings.

4. Assessment Conclusions

Students gained new insights into the phenomenon of sound. Students also improved their ability to work together cooperatively and to communicate in a collaborative setting.

5. Answering The Inquiry Question

After the residency, students were able to identify and discuss specific scientific terms related to sound (i.e. frequency, amplitude, wavelength) and use this knowledge to enrich their compositions. Playing the beat tubes connected body and mind in the practice of music. Students learned to play rhythmic patterns on steady beats, but the challenge was both physical (kinesthetic) and mental.

6. Conclusions: What Was Learned

By playing the beat tubes, students were able to objectify the often confusing and mysterious nature of sound. Students were able to approach the inquiry question scientifically. Students learned: •Sound is a phenomenon that our brains perceive and process in a specific, predictable way. •The physical characteristics of sound are frequency and amplitude. •The frequency of a sound wave is defined in musical terms as pitch. •Different pitches form melodies and harmonies, both of which can be defined mathematically through interval relationships.

7. Conclusions: What Can Be Done Differently In The Future

I introduced the residency with beatboxing (vocal percussion) activities during the course of three days. In the future, one day of beatboxing would suffice. This would allow more time for working with the beat tubes and further discussion and analysis of the specific scientific principles of sound. I would have liked to give students more time to compose independently. Also, students can potentially be involved in the construction of the beat tubes in the future.

8. Conclusions: How Will These Inform The Work Moving Forward

This project inspired me to expand the possibilities of working with beat tubes. Specifically, I learned that vocalizations and movement are essential to successful instruction. Therefore, I will explore the elements of dance, as well as other musical traditions (i.e. drum lines, West African drumming) to improve the project. Overall, I was amazed at the possibilities of working with beat tubes.

9. Summary

This toolkit article is a report of a case study conducted by Young Audiences Arts for Learning.

The original report can be found at the following page.

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