Dossier of Discovery: Music in a Different Key

article by Anne Renaud , photo courtesy the Boston Typewriter Orchestra

Success Criteria:

I can recognise and explain why adverbials and adverbial phrases are used

I can choose specific verbs that accurately describe how to play a non-conventional instrument

I can independently select adverbials and form adverbial phrases to add precision to their writing

I can select interesting verbs and adverbials to add precision to writing about non-conventional instruments.

Read the article as a class. After reading, identify all the verbs used to describe playing a typewriter like an instrument (pound, hammer, strokes, spinning, sliding, thumping, attack).

Compare these verbs to the verb in the expression about the piano:

To tickle the ivories.

Students should recognise that unlike the verb ‘tickle’, the verbs used to describe playing a typewriter are fast, hard and powerful. This highlights the comparative difficulty in making music on a non-conventional instrument.

Play the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! clip: Boston Typewriter Orchestra. Draw students’ attention to the list of ways that a typewriter is played (performers mash keys, slide carriages, spin rollers, tap bells, thump housings). Explain that these simple sentences use specific verbs to capture the unique way to play an instrument. The sentences could be enhanced by using adverbials to add precision.

Provide students with the definition of adverbials and adverbial phrases using the NESA Curriculum Glossary. Remind students that adverbials add precision to a sentence by answering the how, the when, the where or the why. Then model how to turn a simple sentence into a sentence with an adverbial phrase:

The performers mash keys in synch. (How)

With astonishing speed, the performers spin rollers. (How)

The performers slide cartridges precisely and rhythmically to make a pleasing sound. (How and why)

Students then add their own adverbial phrases to the remaining sentences to increase their precision.

Next, brainstorm a list of classroom items that could also be used as a non-conventional instrument (for example: opening and shutting squeaky windows, stacking books quickly and slowly, tapping whiteboard markers on a variety of surfaces). Give students time to experiment with these instruments. Ask them to pay attention to the actions required to make sound and the types of sound that are made.

After students have had time to play their non-conventional instrument, ask them to draw up and complete the following table:

Verbs: The action you take to make the sound

Onomatopoeia: What sound does the instrument make.

Adverbials: Adverbs and phrases to provide more information.

Students then write a range of precise sentences about their non-conventional instrument.