Friday, January 21, 2011

Junk Music!

Last weekend, RISD junior Max Frieder brought an incredible infusion of creative experiences to the Museum’s Paint Play program. Visitors made some joyful noise as they grabbed drumsticks and explored the sounds of Max’s colorful “Foundstrument Soundstrument,” an interactive percussive sculpture created from a motley mixture of found materials and reclaimed junk.

A project developed over a series of four RISD courses, Max describes the Foundstrument as a wonderful interactive teaching tool that “makes sounds of all kinds, from bops of plastic pipes, to chimes of casted glass, to the bing of reverbarating metal. The different scales have different tones, and there are objects on it of all different kinds of mediums.”

As children explored the beat, Max also led them in a collaborative mural-making activity, while Museum play guides facilitated a printing activity with a vibrant array of paints. Check it out:

Museum staff and AmeriCorps members shared some of their observations and impressions of the program’s magical sights and playful sounds:

To the soundtrack of banging, binging and tapping filling the air, a mom and her son's faces both lit up with smiles – he engaged in painting the background of the mural with an array of colors and moving with his whole body across the floor, she engaged in watching him. I loved what she said to me: “I feel so stimulated right now!”

A group of older boys were painting, playing music, and hanging out with Max, learning more about the making of the Foundstrument. Max told that them that, as an art student, THIS was his homework. Four pairs of eyes widened and the boys said in unison, “Awesome!”

On Sunday, Max invited a friend of his who works with ¡CityArts! – a musician and experiences percussionist – to play on the Foundstrument with visitors. It brought a new dimension to the music to have her sustain an inspiring bold beat while kids and grown-ups began adding their own rhythms, fleshing out the sound and morphing it. It was like a junk drum circle, but you weren't limited to one “drum,” you could change the instrument as you went along. And two of Max's Big Nazo friends came as their creature alter-egos!

–Carly, Program Developer
Kids were shocked when they were handed a stick and told to go at it and then Mom or Dad joined in, too! “This one makes a cool sound,” said a 10-year-old girl as we banged and made rhythms on a tin kettle, wooden cylinders, and old plastic toys that were drilled into a wheel barrel. Experimenting with different sounds and trying to join in the beat with the artists was my favorite part. I felt that I was making something with children that was purely original that would never be repeated or heard again.
–Kerrie, AmeriCorps Museum Educator

The thing that really stuck with me was the kids’ faces when they saw the Foundstrument – it was a look of wonderment and shock. Some kids weren't sure if they could really hit everything with the drumsticks and others just jumped right in and encouraged the shy kids. It was great! The painting activity went along with it really well because it was two very creative, unstructured experiences in the same place.
–Lyndsey, AmeriCorps Museum Educator

Two children made the biggest impression on me. One young artist, about 7 years old, was playing in front of the funhouse mirrors – she and her mom with their hands full of her beautiful paintings. It was clear how hard she had worked as she told me the paintings’ descriptive names and about her inspiration. And 6-year-old Ethan explored the Foundstrument so seriously, testing all of the parts and sounds, moving to the beat, and breaking out into infectious laughter as he discovered some of its funny details – like a set of plastic teacups and a pair of roller skates. Next, Ethan moved to the painting activities, focusing intently as his bold patterns emerged. It was truly inspiring to see children – and Max! – so engaged in various forms of creative expression, and that the Museum was the setting for this multisensory adventure.
–Megan, Communications Director

1 comment:

Max Frieder said...

Hey Children's Museum community!

I just wanted to thank everyone involved for creating a beautiful experience that changed my life.

I learned more in those two days about kids than I could have ever imagined.

Smiles are contagious, and their smiles infected me with laughter that spread right back to them.

Such circles are what make me excited for a life of worldwide events like this.

I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to expose children of such a wide range of ages to the Foundstrument Soundstrument.

I worked for over 3 and a half months on this project and this culmination is more than I could have ever hoped for.

I will live in those memories, and use these feelings of success to spur me to future kid-inspired adventures.

I am starting the editing process of "The Foundstrument Soundstrument" Film. Once I have completed it you will be the first people to get it.

I'm proud to have worked with such a wonderfully bright institution, and look forward to all the journeys to come.

May life bring learning through smiley bewilderment!