Our guest writer, internationally known folksinger Daria has traveled the globe for the last two decades, learning, sharing and making music while building communities and encouraging a new view of hope and peace for all the world’s children. She writes an excellent blog called “Making Multicultural Music: Sharing Diversity Through the Arts,” and also shares her songs, videos, and instrument on her web site “World Music for Children.” Today she is sharing with us how to make a Chinese gong for Chinese New Year.
What is a gong? It’s a large hanging percussion instrument that you strike with a stick or a beater for a wonderful, loud resonant sound that will definitely make anyone around you sit up and take notice. In ancient China, it’s said that gongs called farmers in from the fields and some were so loud that they could be heard almost 50 miles away!
Supplies: a metal, disposable roasting pan; pipecleaners or yarn; a cardboard tube from wrapping paper; paint, stickers, glitter, glue, or textured paint for decorating the gong; 12-18″ wooden dowel; electrical tape.
The first step to making your own gong is finding something that can be the large metal “dish.” My favorite choice for this is a disposable metal turkey roaster (available from any Dollar or grocery store). If you don’t have one available, you can try a large disposable metal cake pan or even smaller pie tins. But remember, the larger the pan, the better the sound.
Your next step is to make two holes in the top area of your metal pan – about 2 – 3 inches apart. Then, slip a pipecleaner through each hole and twist the ends together to form a circle. Now you have your hanging gong. But, what will it hang from? For an easy movable stand, take two chairs and set them about two to three feet apart, facing outward. On top of the chairs, place a cardboard tube from wrapping paper or a large stick or broomstick. Slip the handles of your gong onto the stick and it will hang down perfectly. Check out the below pictures to see how it works.
Would you like to decorate your gong? Make it fancy, funny, or ornate? You can add Chinese symbols or stickers, paint, glitter, and glue to make your own gong unique and special. After it’s dry, you can put it back in place, ready to be played.
Lastly, you’ll need a beater to strike the gong. Take a 12 or 18″ wooden dowel and wrap one side with electrical tape to form a head. That’s the side that will strike the gong. If you don’t have a wooden dowel, you can substitute a wooden spoon, a chopstick, or an unsharpened pencil: just wrap the head the same way on the end that will strike the gong.
If you are interested in learning more about Daria’s Music, check out her web site, listen to her music with your children, or look for her in a concert near you. During her performances, she introduces unique, global, authentic instruments and allows the audience to take part in playing them – from Buffalo and Pueblo drums to shékeres, cajón, washboard, guiros, handbells, doumbek, chapchas and much more. In fact, she presents songs in a variety of languages including English, Spanish, Arabic, Hebrew, Zulu, German, Quechua Indian and Oneida (Iroquois).