Jingle Beans!

Sub-Project: Jingle Beans

Description: The ability to keep a steady beat is an important skill to obtain individually but also maintain in a group. We will be exploring steady beat with our shakers that we will be making from recycled containers and different types of beans but more importantly we will be exploring rhythmic composition and improvisation in music making!


Take an assortment of different types of beans. Make sure that you have a variety – from chickpeas to kidney beans and even fava beans (or the biggest beans you can find), be sure to include lentils (!) – fill 2 containers each with equal amount of the same type of beans and mark them so that you know which pair go together. Create as many pairs as necessary so that every child has a pair of shakers to match, marking each pair. Then distribute the containers to the group and ask the children to shake their containers observing the different sounds. Have children shake their containers. Ask them to keep shaking and find their twin with the child who has the matching shaker. Focus on timbre (see document explanation below).


Next, introduce rhythm. Focus on rhythmic, motor and listening skills. Take your shakers and make various patterns that are echoed by the group: you shake a rhythmic pattern and let the children echo your pattern back to you. Split the group into 2, having each group perform its part, layering the 2 parts.

Once the steady pulse has been internalized explore the body and voice to create 4 beat patterns, moving from simple rhythmic patters to more complex ones.


Now you can begin with your composition! Split the group based on the different types of shakers (with different type of beans) they have. We are going to create composition based using the rhythm of words and ostinato patterns.

To create ostinato patterns, using the rhythm of words and syllables to create simple phrases, which will then be allocated to a specific instrument type. The beans and phrases from “Jingle Beans” will be the inspiration of this composition.

Instructor leads the class in a small orchestration using the words from Jingle Beans creating rhythmic phrases, you can invent your own phrases for the song. Cards can be used in order, as graphic notation to layout a picture representation of the patterns the instruments will play. This will be done in an echo play but after this participants will be encouraged to create their own rhythms based on a “call and response” manner.


Next, have the participants improvise different rhythmic patterns on their instruments. The participants are split into groups of 5 each where they are asked to compose their own musical composition based on the patterns and improvisation experienced, using their bean instruments. Instructor facilities this process only.

Our goal is to develop creativity in musical expression. Creativity is about musical imagination, pupils’ ability to “’hear” and create the music in their heads (Ofstead, 2009). Musical creativity can be demonstrated through composition and improvisation: main activities for generating new ideas in music. Early years teachers’ conceptions of creativity in the music classroom.Music listening and performance are considered as additional forms of creative behavior.

The groups will then perform their little composition and video or audio and a picture of the graphic notation taken will document it.

Download the full presentation of the step-by-step process to follow: Jingle Beans-Step by Step process

Watch a super cute example of Jingle Beans playing in Hong Kong: https://www.facebook.com/HooplaEducation/videos/vb.562998097170356/683104368493061/?type=2&theater

Download the Jingle Beans score: Jingle Beans

Collaborative Project: We are launching a worldwide music composition of jingle beans! We will be collecting sound pieces from the various schools and putting them together in a beautiful sound composition!

Learning Objective: Combining structured rhythms and improvisational section to create a group composition, Creatively using beans (a natural material) to explore sound, using the body students will experience steady beat as they echo various rhythmic patters using body percussion and vocal play.

Time frame: All Year

Collaborative Form

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About the Specialist

Katherine Xenophontos holds a degree in music education with over 15 years experience teaching music to children of all ages. Her extensive preparation includes Orff level 3 certification, Kodaly and Delcroze training, in addition to playing 5 instruments! In 2010 her children’s choir performed for Pope John Paul II.


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