Nau mai haere mai. Welcome to my blog about the sound garden project.
From 2016 to 2020 I was a kaiako at Te Ara Whānui Kura Kaupapa Māori o ngā Kōhanga Reo o Te Awakairangi in Alicetown, Lower Hutt, teaching a music programme to Y0-8 tamariki (5-13 yrs) using the wonderful Orff approach.
In August 2016, just after I began teaching at the kura, I built two flipflopophones for my niece in Hokitika, and worked over the summer to create other instruments to add to this. The idea of making her a sound garden where she could have free access to music making as she grew up really appealed, and I sought out fun and interesting ideas for instruments that would engage her. In the end one flipflopophone became a marimba and I added a set of 5 "ding boxes" (played by stepping on) and a bell drum, both tuned in C pentatonic so they would sound good together.
As an artist I wanted the instruments to be visually appealing, and decorated the flipflopophones with images of crocodiles, sharks and coconut crabs to represent the origin of this type of instrument: the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.
Kōwhaiwhai on the pipes represents our whānau, with the ngutu kākā pattern.
Local plumbers Jeff Evans and Mark Keenan kindly donated the pipes.
Ding boxes (from Jon Madin's Build your own wacky instruments book) painted with a tūī on top and pikopiko on the side, a fern my niece loves to pick and eat. The mallets for the bell drum were made from chopsticks, and the drum itself from an LPG gas cylinder.
The idea of children being able to access musical instruments freely really appeals to me, and ever since I came across Saul Eisenberg's Junk Orchestra on the web I imagined that building sound gardens could be a fantastic way to make this happen. Thankfully, the tumuaki (principal) at the kura appreciates the value of the arts in education, and when I got back to the kura in January (2017) and showed her what I'd been doing, she gave me her backing to build one at the kura. Wow!
After planning what I would want in a sound garden, the next step was to find funding to pay for the materials. We were very lucky that Tātai Aho Rau - CORE Education came to the party and responded to my application for their Mātauranga Māori (Māori Education) Grant with a "yes" worth $7,000! Mouri ora! Kua whai huruhuru tēnei manu. 😊