Resonator Bells

The countdown is on for the end of the year!  The energy is high in our building as everyone is itching to be out in the sun.  Our music festival is officially over, and I have to say that my students all performed beautifully.  We had the only kindergarten class in the division to enter, and they performed like absolute professionals.  They sang “C is for Cookie” with all their little hearts, and I can honestly say they stole the show!  My grade 2/3 classroom made the local paper for their performance as well, and the grade 4/5 class sang not only in English but Hawaiian, performing the Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride from Lilo and Stitch.  All in all, the students of Woodlands School performed to their absolute best.   Exciting for this year as well, two of my private singers were given recommendations to perform at the  Provincial Music Festival in Brandon, MB.  An exciting time in music for sure!

This last month we tested out sets of colored resonator bells.  Being colour coded was wonderful!  They matched up to the hand bells we had used previously (which my students still love!), making an entire class set of bells!  These are also set up in a C diatonic set, which made playing many songs accessible.  Downside, we only had a one octave range, which did limit how high our songs could go.  Each bell also looked like a bar from one of our metallophones, just coloured, which made it easy to use these when working with barred instruments.  They were set up like another metallophone and played exactly the same.

With my younger students the resonator bells were given out individually, as they can be removed individually from their carrying case.  Using extra mallets I had in the classroom, we were then able to practice the musical concepts we have been working on: forte, piano, stopping and starting as a group, and their favorite, playing allegro!  Using them individually it also allowed us to play games like Simon Says, using both the bells on their own, or making a combination of resonators, hand bells, and Boomwhackers.

As a centre for the older kids who are practicing reading a staff they were a wonderful tool as the note name was written on the bottom of each one.  Using the Boomwhacker books to start, and then moving to simple songs written on the staff In black and white allowed them to practice their note reading. My 4/5 class have been working on accompaniments with barred instruments, and using the resonator bells, we were able to put a twinkling star effect into our space compositions.

I’m a big fan of these bells!  However, I was a little concerned with them, when after one class of using them one of the mallets snapped.  I definitely suggest using sturdy mallets when using these instruments.  Also, being a plastic base, while they haven’t cracked so far, I am a little concerned at the longevity of the instruments.  Knowing many of my kids, particularly the younger grades, a lot of pre practice had to go into using them to ensure that they would be sturdy and stay in good shape.

Overall, I loved having these as a part of my classroom.  The students are very excited to use them, and have decided they are their new favorite instrument for sound effects and accompaniments.  However, I feel that they may be better suited for small group use, with careful supervision, or perhaps in a home setting where they are not being as heavily used, to keep them fully intact and sounding their best.

As the year ends, I wish good luck to all of my fellow teachers out there!  This has been a challenging and exciting year, and I’m sure we are all ready for a break.  Although if you’re anything like me, you are a little excited for September as well… what can I say, I’ve always loved school!

Written by Mandy, a k-8 music and art teacher in the Interlake School Division.

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