Have you ever come across an instrument and thought to yourself “Wow, that’s…interesting! I wonder how it’s played?” You’re not alone! Uncommon Instruments Awareness Day is celebrated every July 31st. This holiday was originally created to spread awareness about instruments that most people recognize, but don’t often know the name of. Today, the holiday celebrates musical instruments (and sounds) that ordinary people don’t come across every day!
Throughout civilization, musicians have pushed the boundaries of what is considered musical or even what is considered to be an instrument. In the 20th Century, composers like Karlheinz Stockhausen were using electronic equipment to create music while others were composing pieces for theremin or voice and tape.
How does one begin to celebrate Uncommon Instruments Awareness Day? Play some funky recordings of instruments, like: the hydraulophone, the theremin, the flamethrower organ, the xaphoon, and the sheng (most Westerners are woefully unfamiliar with Eastern instruments!). Check out Facebook pages like ‘Rare and Strange Instruments’ and ‘Mesmerizing Instruments and Sounds’ for more examples of fantastic instruments to share.
Another way to celebrate Uncommon Instruments Awareness Day is to create your own instrument. Currently, there are carrot saxophones, saxophones made from PVC pipe, and a cat organ. For music educators, expose your students (whomever they may be) to Eastern instruments like the Iraqi santur, or the bawu. Introducing instruments to people who may not know much about them, particularly ones that fall outside of Western norm, is an exceptional way to bring awareness to some truly incredible instruments!
This blog post is part of a series linked to our Music Celebrations Around the World calendar. Download the calendar for access to information about musical celebrations and holidays with strong musical components to share in your music classroom or with your ensemble members! Music + Travel = Encore Tours.