From the vantage point of a doctoral student in education leadership and policy, as well as a teacher at a public Montessori, I'm learning and sharing as I go. This is my space to explore the child's interior life, our discoveries as educators, and work of learning together.
Thursday, July 10, 2014
Montessori Bells: Developing auditory discrimination for pitch (Age 3)
These are an
identical series of 13 bells, from middle to high C. One series is black and
white, and the other is brown. The brown series are movable for pitch matching.
It is good, when setting this in the classroom, to set the bells against
something a little higher, so that it creates an acoustic chamber. Against a
wall is a good place, or against a high shelf. The plastic mallet, in this
unusual case, produces a softer sound than the wooden mallet.
The direct aim is
the development and refinement of the auditory perception for pitch.
The indirect aim is
preparation for music education.
This activity can
start when the child is 3 or 3 1/2 years old, whenever the child has the
coordination of movement and enough control of the fine motor skills to strike
gently, with the pendulous pincer grasp. The guide takes great care in
demonstrating the care of the bells. It takes a good deal of time to learn the
looseness of grip, as an aspect of visual motor coordination. Initially, they
will strike the bell and hold it with a stiff grip, but it will emerge over
time with practice and refinement. For the child, this is a developmental
When the child has a
facility with grip and control, they can practice the skill of pairing, to see
if the child hears the difference.
Finally, when that
is mastered, usually over a period of three or four months, the child may do
the more complex pitch matching exercises with a few different bells.
The control of error
is in the child's acoustic sense.
To care for the
bells, take a very soft cloth and wipe the dome. Never polish them or wipe them
with damp clothes, because it will damage the acoustic quality. They go out of
tune if dropped, as well. We proceed very slowly and ensure that the child's movements
are ready before presenting this material.