"Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature can not do without." ~Confucius

Monday, January 16, 2012

Chinese New Year!

I've never been to China... but we have some friends over there (Hi Amber!) and it's always fun to have an excuse to talk about different countries and their instruments.

Enter.... Gong.

Gongs are Eastern instruments used originally as a signal sounded to begin and end the work day or a call to military action. They can be as small as a few inches in diameter or larger than your average human being. They are flat metal discs suspended on a cord and struck by mallet. In China, some suspended gongs could be heard for many, many miles they were so incredibly resonant.
Now you can find them in concert halls, museums and high school stages for the always entertaining "Gong shows."

So, why not make one?

Did anyone get one, two or ten of those metal containers of popcorn this Christmas and you don't know what to do with the tacky metal tin? Well, I thought the lids at least could come in handy for making a gong.

I pounded a hole around the top part of the lid with a hammer and nail. Of course, unless you are closely  supervising an older kiddo, this is not a step your child should do! And, when pounded through, there are some protruding metal pieces on the back side from the hole, so be sure to cover those up with a piece of duct tape on the back, then pound the nail through again to get a hole in the tape... or whatever you think works best.

The larger the nail, the better for threading a string through it. Mine was kinda small, but I couldn't find a bigger one at the moment.

Thread a ribbon or yarn through the hole and tie.
You may have a mallet from another instrument/toy. I wanted to make ours kind of rustic, so I fastened a paper towel on top of a wooden spoon with a rubber band. So glamorous, I know.

I found the boys doing this before I had to lure them in to play with the gongs:

But, they seemed really excited - especially since anything you hit is a big thrill to them. :-)

We talked about the gong and how to strike it. They loved it.
Of course we had to incorporate a song. What other than, "Gung Hay Fat Choy" a New Year folk tune from China.

The link I used for this tune is no longer working, so to search for the tune, type "Gung Hay Fat Choy" into YouTube or a similar site to find a few examples of the melody.

I instructed them to hit the gong after each line of the song

This is what we did:

Mommy sings: "Gung hay fat choy"   Boys: "bang, bang, bang"
Mommy: "Gung hay fat choy"   Boys: "bang, bang, bang"
Mommy: "Sing happy new year"   Boys: "bang bang bang"
Mommy: "Gung hay fat choy"   Boys: "bang, bang, bang"

K tried to sing while he was striking his gong.
J just liked banging it as loud as he could.

We'll pull these out at random times this week and practice singing the song and hitting the gong.... incorporating some simple patterns as we go. Fun, fun, fun!

Happy Chinese New Year!


  1. Looks like your guys had such fn learning about another culture. My kids would have loved the gong. I am a new follower visiting from No Time For Flashcards. Vicky from Mess For Less