WORLD MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS
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"If you can walk, you can dance.
If you can talk, you can sing."
Children should be taught music in order that they may become more gentle and harmonious and rythmical, and so more fitted for speech and action.
following is a basic introduction concerning the informative, creative,
and fun multi-cultural music education and Native American educational
programs I have
offered schools and organizations since 1986. It is followed by more
program description and costs, and statements about my history and
in presenting these programs. Whereas the vast majority of these
have been presented within reasonable driving distance of my home, I
discuss presentation at any location, or consulting with you about
projects for your school or organization.
I have been a professional bamboo flutemaker since 1976, living in Western Massachusetts and Southern Vermont. In those years, I have learned a great deal about the art of flutemaking, the history and development of flutes and other woodwind instruments, and the musical instruments of other cultures. Through my desire to share my art and knowledge with my own children's classmates in pre-school and kindergarten, I began a number of years ago to develop and refine a program tailored to the needs of school-age children to learn more about their musical heritage and how it relates to the world around them.
I have now presented this and two additional programs in over 300 performances, in over 175 schools and institutions, to children from pre-school to grade 12, university students and adults**. It is the response of the audiences, both student and staff alike, that has encouraged me to continue to offer and refine this presentation, for it has been received and praised far beyond my greatest expectations.
In Program 1, I come into a school with well over 80 simple and modern percussion, string, and wind instruments. I demonstrate and discuss the nature and beauty of these simple instruments, how they were developed, and how they are used in various cultures of the world. I seek not only to introduce the children to the beauty of these simple instruments, but to broaden their perspective on the nature of music and creative expression. I seek to enhance their appreciation of the beauty and diversity of other cultures of the world, not only those from which so many of us have come, but those often looked upon as more simple or primitive than our own. Cultures such as those of Africa, Asia, or Native north and South America that, in many cases, are the source not only of our modern musical instruments, but of much of the music we listen to today. I demonstrate to the children instruments that modern musicians have retrieved from some of these more ancient or simple cultures in order to diversify or enrich the sound of their modern instrumentations. And I create a simple bamboo flute right before their eyes, so they can see the simplicity of these instruments. Then I compare the tonal quality of bamboo, wood, clay, metal and rubber flutes and reed instruments so the children can experience the extraordinary simplicity of complex instruments and their acoustics. I conclude the program by passing out a number of instruments and engaging the children to play and sing a simple song with me. The program lasts about an hour, and typically accommodates between 60-120 children per performance.
The program has received nothing but strong praise for its content, and for my evident enthusiasm in the presentation, from staff (teachers and administrators alike, including music education teachers), from students, parents, cultural council members, and the press. Comments to me personally have ranged from the tiniest of children running up to me after a presentation spurting out, "I really like you and your instruments!", accompanied by a hug and a kiss on the cheek, to a teacher's remark, "This is absolutely the best program I have ever seen in this school (in 12 years)!", to a principal, "The sign of a good program is how well you hold the audience's attention, and you captivated the attention not only of the children, but of the staff as well!" I have had follow-up reports of students making instruments at home and bringing them to show at school, and of entire classes engaging in projects related to my presentation. I have been invited back for follow-up discussions in some classrooms, and for smaller, hands-on demonstrations at some schools.
From those requests have emerged another program which focuses more on the percussive portion of the original program in a 45 minute segment, followed by another 45 minute segment, in which we build and play very simple percussive instruments. And a third program has developed from my intimate personal knowledge of Native American culture and philosophy, called "The Medicine Wheel." The Medicine Wheel is a way of perception and knowledge, a way of life for many Native American peoples, both historical and contemporary. The Medicine Wheel ties together the abundance, diversity, beauty, and intelligence of the Native view of Creation. It is a powerful method of self-reflection and interaction with the lessons of life and Nature. It not only helps us understand who we are, but better allows us to embrace all elements of the natural world, incorporating concepts of self-esteem and self-knowledge, environmentalism, and community. I have found my workshop, "The Medicine Wheel", to be a way for pre-adolescent and older students to gain a greater awareness of the world around them and the world within them. In Native cultures, it is considered critical for children of this age group to be given knowledge and tools such as these to help them prepare for passage into adulthood.
I would like to offer your school the opportunity to also share in these programs. I am enclosing a more detailed explanation of the programs I offer with reviews by teachers, students, administrators, and the local media of schools where I have presented these materials. I believe you will find my prices quite reasonable. You will find me amenable to working out a program to fit your specific needs or studies: for example, a smaller class-by-class presentation with more hands-on time and explanation of the instruments I bring, focus on African, Asian or Native American instruments to correspond to current studies, or a residency to build a more complex instrument or wind instruments with one or more classes. I am quite used to participating in the grant process, and I am more than happy to help with fundraising proposals wherever needed, as well as ideas for funding sources.
The students I
with, and presented to, have given me some of the richest experiences
my professional career. I enjoy what I do. I hope we can find a way to
share this experience with the children you serve.
These programs continue to grow,
from offering Native American flute making classes, to making and
playing Australian didgeridoos; more and more of my over 3 decades of
work with musical instruments is emerging in classrooms across the
northeast, and the country. Ask us about these additional
programs offerings not listed here.
We also offer
for college level students, and adults, introductory to advanced
courses and training in the historic and practical applications of the
use of sound as a healing modality by cultures worldwide, as well as
|Program I:||WHERE DO OUR MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS COME FROM?|
|Format A:||This is my original and most frequently presented program. I present over 80 wind, percussion, and string instruments of modern and indigenous cultures. I present a picture of how indigenous cultures might live, and how they have created simple musical instruments from materials that are everyday components of their lives and environs. Together, we explore how these instruments evolved into modern instruments we are more familiar with today. We explore varying aspects of tone and pitch of different instruments. I also demonstrate some of the basic wind instruments I have designed and created in my 20 years tenure as a flutemaker and make a simple flute, comparing it to others. I pass out percussion instruments and engage the children in simple songs or rhythmical exercises. Depending upon the age of the students, we discuss contemporary music and its current and historical relationship to indigenous cultures. Finally, I attempt to instill some insight into the nature of creative self-expression and its need and value for each of us.|
|Format B:||This format is identical to Format A except that it focuses entirely on wind instruments and does not have a hands-on percussion component.|
|Format C:||This format focuses entirely on percussion instruments (which includes some string instruments) and includes the hands-on component.|
A: 65-75 minutes; recommended.
Formats B & C: Approx. 45 minutes.
|Program Capacity: All formats:||up to 120 students.|
|Program Cost: All formats:||$280 for one program; $145 for each additional program in the same setting.|
|Program II:||LET’ S MAKE MUSIC TOGETHER!|
|LET’ S MAKE MUSIC TOGETHER!:||This program is designed in response to educators’ desires for greater hands-on participation by students. It is a 2 part program designed in 2 forty-five minute - 1 hour segments. Segment I is a duplicate of the percussive Format C listed under Program I. Segment 2 is devised as an instrument building workshop in which we take common household materials to build very simple percussion instruments, one per student, and use these instruments to play simple songs or rhythmical exercises.|
|Program Length:||1 1/2 - 2 hours, with an optional break between segments.|
|Program Capacity:||Up to 60 students, with a minimum of one staff member per class in attendance required in segment 2. 120 students, if add'l segment 2.**|
|Program Cost:||$365 for one program; $225 for each additional full program in the same setting. $125 for additional Segment 2's, to keep this portion down in participant size, can allow more in segment 1.**|
|Materials Cost:||50 cents/ up, per child, dependent on instruments we build, unless student provides materials (common household items can be used.) Cost of materials and program length may vary with more complicated instruments, suitable for older students.*|
K-5; arrangements may be made for more complex instruments for older
(Also, we have an excellent program building gourd rattles, great for grades 4-8, cost $2/add'l / student.)
|Program III:||THE MEDICINE WHEEL|
|THE MEDICINE WHEEL:||This is a two-part program designed to introduce students to aspects of Native American philosophy. Segment 1 is a discussion of basic elements of the Medicine Wheel, a simple stone structure symbolic of the Great Wheel of Life, and how it might be applied in the traditional life of Native peoples. Respect and understanding of Native concepts of creation and its interplay with life and nature are foremost. The Medicine Wheel gives language to archetypal images of the "Four Great Directions" of the "Circle of Life", or "Circle of Law". Within this circle are all forms of life: animal, plant, mineral, human; held in four elements of nature: earth, air, fire, and water. Understanding these forms and how they manifest in the Native view of the world gives language and understanding to the complexities of self, and our individual and community relation to the world. We will discuss and explore these relationships in a way that will hopefully give meaning to the students beyond the classroom. In Segment 2, we will take the students outdoors, weather permitting. If appropriate in your school setting, we will explore a natural area--a woods, meadow, or creekbed--for small stones that we might bring back to the school grounds, where we will construct a simple Medicine Wheel from the stones, incorporating ceremony, music, and song. In cases of inclement weather, we can set a raindate, or build the Wheel indoors in an open space. In these cases, and where outdoor spaces are not available to gather stones, we can request the students to select and bring a stone from their home prior to our studies. If this is not possible, the facilitator will bring stones.|
|Program Length:||1 1/2 - 2 hours, with an optional break between segments.|
|Program Capacity:||Up to 40 students; or program can be arranged with up to 120 students in Segment 1 and additional Segment 2's, of up to 40 students.*|
|Program Cost:||$245 for one program; $145 for each additional program in the same setting. *Additional Segment 2's--$70 each in the same setting.|
|Program Recommendation:||Grade 4 or older.|
|Travel Costs:||Programs are designed to include up to 2 hours of travel time. Transportation to sites beyond an estimated 2 hour round trip travel time from Ascutney, VT., will be billed at $50/hr./additional estimated travel time. Sites within a 3 hour radius would include: Montpelier, and St. Johnsbury, VT., to the north and northwest; Greenfield, MA., and Brattleboro, VT., to the south; Concord, NH., to the east. To the west, Manchester and Rutland, VT., are within a 2 hour round trip radius. Burlington and Bennington, VT., are approximately 3 hours. Program sites further than 6 hours round trip may require an overnight fee, dependent on program lengths.|
ready to develop with your staff, a more simple, more hands-on program,
with smaller class size; programs more geared to one culture of study,
such as African, Asian, or Native American musical instruments; a
with more follow-up or in depth exploration of the music education or
Wheel programs, or more complex instrument building. Please contact me
with your needs and ideas.
|I have developed these programs solely for the enjoyment and discovery of the children in our communities. I come to share with the children the beauty, history, and simplicity of making and playing musical instruments, and hope to enrich their lives with an understanding of the importance and ease of creative expression. I seek to instill in the children a greater awareness of and respect for the many cultures of the world. By defining the diversity of these cultures, I believe we grow closer to seeing, learning, and understanding the vast similarities we inherit as individuals of this great Earth. Though my focus is on the beauty and art of musical instruments or the knowledge of Native philosophy, the message remains the same: by infusing the children’s lives with the richness and elegance of world music, or exploring what it means to live more fully and consciously, the children may come closer to understanding who they are, as individuals, and in relationship to a larger community. The cycle can then repeat itself: by understanding more of themselves, the students can see further into the world about them.|
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Blackburn has made and played bamboo flutes since 1974. In 1976,
he began to make bamboo flutes for his livelihood, traveling to major
and national craft fairs, art shows, and music festivals throughout the
Northeast, South, and Midwest. He has created one of the widest
of wind instruments available in this country. He has displayed
galleries nationwide and won prizes for his creativity and quality of
Through his travels and independent studies, he has met numerous
makers and musicians of other cultures, learning about their music,
and culture, as well as performing with them. He has acquired an
extensive collection of musical instruments from different
He has recorded and produced 2 audiocassette tapes of his original
Since 1973, he has also studied Native American culture, learning
and with traditional and non-traditional elders. In this time, he
has also learned of his own Native heritage.
He has been a single parent since 1985, raising two children, one with severe developmental disabilities. He has also provided a home environment and self-care education for another young adult with developmental disabilities. In 1986 he began sharing his work as a volunteer in his children’s schools. Due to the popularity of his presentations on a small and local scale, he decided to expand and offer his educational programs to other Massachusetts district schools. Since that time he has developed and performed his World Music educational programs and his Native American Philosophy programs over 300 times in over 150 schools and institutions. He currently resides in Ascutney, Vermont.
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SUNREED WORLD MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS
Fine Quality Hand
Bamboo Flutes, Saxophones & Clarinets,
Shakuhachi, Native American Flutes, Didgeridoos
P.O. Box 389
220 Hidden Glen Rd.
Ascutney, VT 05030 USA
Zacciah, Sunreed Instruments
Original Design by PoozlePress Animations
Additions and changes by Zacciah Blackburn, Sunreed Instruments