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View Full Version : Did you have these obscure elementary school musical instruments?


Earl Snake-Hips Tucker
04-25-2005, 04:25 PM
I remember back in *elementary school learning to play something we called a “flute.” It was a single piece of injection-molded plastic, usually black, that was played similar to the recorder, but smaller, and probably much cheaper. Anyway, we called them “flutes.”

Are you familiar with this, and if so, what did you call it?

*Back in my elementary school days some decades ago, we had something called a “music teacher.” She visited different schools during the week, and we had “music class” one hour a week, where we would sing along with her records, and sometimes watch patriotic **films where we would sing about stout-hearted men and the like.

**I don’t know exactly what you called those kinds of films, the kind where you’d hear a sound on the accompanying record, then you would physically advance the film to the next frame, where the next series of lines would be displayed.

Hey, It's That Guy!
04-25-2005, 04:29 PM
We played recorders in elementary school, not these black plastic flutes of which you speak. We also had ancient xylophones, and really cool instruments called pianacas, which were small tabletop piano keyboards (plastic) with plastic tubes and mouthpieces you blew into. They sounded a bit like accordions, and you got the sound by playing the keys while blowing into the tube. Very cool. Years later, when I was playing in bands in college, I bought a similar instrument called a melodica, which you held in both hands like a recorder and played the keys while blowing directly into the mouthpiece.

elmwood
04-25-2005, 04:31 PM
**I don’t know exactly what you called those kinds of films, the kind where you’d hear a sound on the accompanying record, then you would physically advance the film to the next frame, where the next series of lines would be displayed.

Back during my elementary school years in the 1970s, we called them "filmstrips."

"Be sure to look both ways before crossing the street. (bong!) If there is a traffic guard, only cross the street after he tells you to. (bong!) Make sure all traffic has come to a complete stop. (bong!)"

h.sapiens
04-25-2005, 04:41 PM
When my sister was in, maybe 4th grade, they played something called a Flutaphone (Flut-a-phone? Flutophone?) which I think was a trademark. I remember it as being like Earl describes. I don't think any of the kids could stand them, and they didn't last long. Long enough for maybe one class recital.

Zebra
04-25-2005, 04:46 PM
When I was in 5th grade we had orchestra. Everyone took it for at least one semester and then you could take it as an elective the second. I played the cello.

Dogzilla
04-25-2005, 05:08 PM
I played recorder, while my sister (three years older) played the flutaphone. She went on to a stellar career in the junior high school band as a clarinetist (and later played bass clarinet, hated it, and never figured out why the band teacher put her on it). I mastered, "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" (sp?) and then gave up music altogether (mom was too high to pay for music lessons, so I got shorted) for a not so stellar and way brief career in chorus. Then I bailed for theater and journalism (and at the time thought the two were unrelated!) in high school.

And yes, we had a full time music teacher and everything. Back then, I could read music, a skill that, I'm sure, today, is practically nonexistant.

Earl Snake-Hips Tucker
04-25-2005, 05:20 PM
It looks as though the "official" name was the "Swanson Tonette," although I do remember "flutophone" being used, too. Here's an example from eBay:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=37977&item=7317411386&rd=1&ssPageName=WDVW

Judith Prietht
04-25-2005, 05:27 PM
We had the recorders, of course, but we also had to learn a whole song--I can't remember what--on the autoharp.

Annie-Xmas
04-25-2005, 05:35 PM
I played the tonette in fifth grade. Learned to read music while doing it.

BiblioCat
04-25-2005, 05:48 PM
We played recorders when I was in elementary school, and my kids did also. Actually, my 3rd-grade son is learning it this year.

We also saw filmstrips. We have some at the preschool where I teach, and sometimes pull them out on rainy days. The techno-savvy kids of today (all of whom have DVD players in their cars) are fascinated by them and think they're really cool. :smack:

monica
04-25-2005, 05:56 PM
We always had the recorders, too. I never realized how much of a sacrifice allowing me to practice on mine was for my parents until my brother got one of his own- and wanted to play it ALL THE FRICKIN' TIME. I hate those things.

RealityChuck
04-25-2005, 07:02 PM
The tonette (http://shop.store.yahoo.com/iqkids1/tonmusin.html) and the flutophone (http://teachingplanet.com/flutophone1.html) are two different things (and both were different from a recorder). The biggest difference is that a flutophone was red and white and had a bell and a tonette was black and didn't have a bell (though it looks like modern versions have added one). The bell is completely unnecessary from a musical point of view (all sound comes from the whistle next to the mouthpiece).

Both had a simplified fingering and, IIRC, was limited in allowing sharps and flats. A recorder was more complex and could play all the notes of the octave.

Jpeg Jones
04-25-2005, 07:25 PM
We always had the recorders, too. I never realized how much of a sacrifice allowing me to practice on mine was for my parents until my brother got one of his own- and wanted to play it ALL THE FRICKIN' TIME. I hate those things.
Don't forget that the recorder is actually a very old instrument with an amazing repertoire. All the baroque masters wrote wonderful recorder music. Bach, Telemann, etc.

It's not just the cheap plastic thing you learned in 4th grade.

Gr8Kat
04-25-2005, 07:31 PM
Our school had us play recorders in the fourth grade. I loved it. I wish I could have taken pre-band in the fifth grade, but we couldn't afford it. I still have my recorder and music book (I lost the plastic sleeve and sponge-on-a-stick that you're supposed to clean it with, though). I was even tootling with it a bit the other day, but my right hand is too crippled up to do the fingering anymore. :(

Anastasaeon
04-25-2005, 08:04 PM
Hmmm... we had recorders, ukeleles, kazoos, "bells" (which was like a xylophone that you could take apart to play individual bells - if a child was asked to play two notes, the two corresponding "bells" would be taken from the main structure and placed before the child to be hit with "tongs"), wooden sticks that we hit together to keep the beat, wooden sticks with ridges to scrape together, small, short haired "brushes" rubbed together to make a soft chafing sound, tambourines, more bells (the actual silver ball kind, attached to a leather strap and shaken to jingle), triangles, and my favourite thing ever, and we only had two of them: the ...

the...

oh Og. I forgot what the hell it was called. I've just spent 15 minutes Googling for the damn thing. It was this electric... chord making... thing. It had no keys, just buttons to tell you the key you were in, and then you took your thumb and ran it sideways across a small, flat area with black and gold vertical stripes. When you ran your thumb over it, it produced a "chord". The name of the instrument ends with "chord". Somebody must have an idea what I'm talking about? Help!

picunurse
04-25-2005, 10:55 PM
could it have been an ocarina (http://ocarina.co.uk/)?

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