A demonstration of playing kitchen spoons

Canadian Heritage Information Network

© 1999, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


Even kitchen utensils can be used as musical instruments! Spoons belong to the idiophone family and sound a little like castanets. The sound is produced when the "bowls" of the spoons are clicked against one another. Spoons are as popular in Manitoba folk music as they are in Quebec and Acadia. They often accompany the violin and accordion.

We can find all sorts of spoons, big and little, decorated or plain. Generally speaking, they are carved from a piece of wood, the bowls of the spoons are placed back-to-back and the handles are attached at the ends. We can improvise with soup spoons held the same way in one hand. If the index finger is slid between the handles, it helps the spoons stay parallel to one another.
Even kitchen utensils can be used as musical instruments! Spoons belong to the idiophone family and sound a little like castanets. The sound is produced when the "bowls" of the spoons are clicked against one another. Spoons are as popular in Manitoba folk music as they are in Quebec and Acadia. They often accompany the violin and accordion.

We can find all sorts of spoons, big and little, decorated or plain. Generally speaking, they are carved from a piece of wood, the bowls of the spoons are placed back-to-back and the handles are attached at the ends. We can improvise with soup spoons held the same way in one hand. If the index finger is slid between the handles, it helps the spoons stay parallel to one another.

© 1999, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

1. To play, first hit the spoons on your knee and then on the palm of the hand that is turned towards the knee and then hit the knee again while counting "One and two and" - one (knee) and (hand) two (knee) and (silence). And start again.

2. The spoons can also be slid over the fingers for the first beat. Then the knee is hit for the second beat before returning to the original sequence.

3. With a bit of practice, you can increase your speed and vary these two movements to make the rhythm more complicated.
1. To play, first hit the spoons on your knee and then on the palm of the hand that is turned towards the knee and then hit the knee again while counting "One and two and" - one (knee) and (hand) two (knee) and (silence). And start again.

2. The spoons can also be slid over the fingers for the first beat. Then the knee is hit for the second beat before returning to the original sequence.

3. With a bit of practice, you can increase your speed and vary these two movements to make the rhythm more complicated.

© 1999, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Playing the Spoons

Hitting the spoons repeatedly against the knee makes a rhythmic clicking sound.

Canadian Heritage Information Network

© 1999, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.


The " dancing man "is a wooden jumping jack that can be made to dance on the end of a strip of wood in time to music. This toy has amused children for of the idiophone family. Like the spoons, it is part of French-Canadian folklore.

You sit on one end of the strip of wood and, holding the jumping jack with one hand, you hit the wood with the other hand. The feet of the jumping jack hit the strip of wood rhythmically. " Tac-tic-tac! "
The " dancing man "is a wooden jumping jack that can be made to dance on the end of a strip of wood in time to music. This toy has amused children for of the idiophone family. Like the spoons, it is part of French-Canadian folklore.

You sit on one end of the strip of wood and, holding the jumping jack with one hand, you hit the wood with the other hand. The feet of the jumping jack hit the strip of wood rhythmically. " Tac-tic-tac! "

© 1999, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

A homemade dancing man

Canadian Heritage Information Network

© 1999, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.


Materials

- strip of soft wood (spruce) 1.3 cm thick
- four 3 mm x 2.5 cm screws to attach the arms and legs to the body
- two 3 mm x 1.3 cm dowels to attach the legs to the knees
- one 6 mm diameter wooden dowel 15 cm long to stick to the back of the "dancing man" to hold it upright
- strip of wood .3 cm thick x 12 cm x 40 cm

Tools
- band saw or jigsaw
- drill
- 2 mm, 3 mm and 5mm drill bit
- screwdriver
- sand paper: to sand the pieces before assembling them

Pattern

- make sure that the pattern is to scale such that the height of the body (A) is 13 cm
- cut out the pattern provided (piece B is included as an example only)
- trace the body (A) and the arm (b) once
- trace the leg pieces (c) and (d) twice

Cutting

- cut out the wood with a saw (Attention: use with caution!)
- arms: cut piece (b) in half along its length
- legs: turn the pieces, t Read More
Materials

- strip of soft wood (spruce) 1.3 cm thick
- four 3 mm x 2.5 cm screws to attach the arms and legs to the body
- two 3 mm x 1.3 cm dowels to attach the legs to the knees
- one 6 mm diameter wooden dowel 15 cm long to stick to the back of the "dancing man" to hold it upright
- strip of wood .3 cm thick x 12 cm x 40 cm

Tools
- band saw or jigsaw
- drill
- 2 mm, 3 mm and 5mm drill bit
- screwdriver
- sand paper: to sand the pieces before assembling them

Pattern

- make sure that the pattern is to scale such that the height of the body (A) is 13 cm
- cut out the pattern provided (piece B is included as an example only)
- trace the body (A) and the arm (b) once
- trace the leg pieces (c) and (d) twice

Cutting

- cut out the wood with a saw (Attention: use with caution!)
- arms: cut piece (b) in half along its length
- legs: turn the pieces, trace and cut out (C) and (D)
- sand the pieces until they are smooth with rounded corners
- cut out the .3 cm x 12 cm x 40 cm strip of wood

Assembly

- punch holes in the points indicated: use the 2 mm drill bit to punch holes in the body at the shoulder and hip; the 3 mm drill bit to punch holes in the legs and arms at the hip and knee; the 5 mm drill bit to punch the hole in the back
- assemble the legs at the knee with a 3 mm x 1.3 cm dowel; be sure that it is good and tight
- assemble the arms at the shoulder and the legs at the hips with the 3 mm x 2.5 cm screws; screw them in only half-way, a little more for the legs so that they balance the arms
- glue the 5 mm x 15 cm dowel to the back of the «dancing man »

...and lets go dancing!

© 1999, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Cut out pattern

Pattern for Dancing Man

Canadian Heritage Information Network, Agence de la Francophonie

© 1999, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.


The dancing man’s feet against the wood make a rhythmic clacking noise.

Canadian Heritage Information Network, Agence de la Francophonie

© 1999, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • Understand how two kinds of simple idiophone instruments are constructed and played
  • Recognize the similarities between instruments from disparate geographic locations
  • Practise manual dexterity and rhythm in playing the spoons and the dancing man
  • Appreciate the musical qualities of an instrument made from scratch by one’s own efforts
  • Follow written instructions and diagrams to construct a musical instrument

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