The Parish School celebrates the arrival of a its first gong! As A. Bears say, “It’s a percussion instrument.” He is correct! This percussion instrument is a flat metal disc that is hit with a mallet. This suspended gong vibrates in multiples modes, giving it a crash sound that causes many students to laugh, smile and pay attention. It has truly been a hit with all the students because of its uniqueness, sound, and the way to play it.
The gong is an ancient Chinese custom. They were first used to signal peasant workers in from the fields; some gongs can be heard from many miles away. We have a chau gong or bullseye gong and they were used in intense and spiritual drumming in rituals and for tribal meetings in the Western Han Dynasty. Gongs were used to clear the way important officials and processions. When J. Dragonflies played it, he said “Here comes the Master” in reference to a television show. Some students shared that they heard and saw it in “Kung Fu Panda.” Though students cover their ears when it is too loud, they have trouble resisting to hit it hard and make it crash!
The gong is a great instrument for students to work on hand-eye coordination, crossing midline, range of motion, and control. These are all important developmental skills. Crossing midline is needed for reading and writing, putting on shoe and socks with both hands, visually track a moving object from one side to the other or to fully track from left to right when reading. Hand-eye coordination affects ability to color, draw basic strokes and pictures, use scissors, and to play ball. Range of motion is required for a number of everyday tasks, such as dressing, eating, and writing. Increasing range of motion reduces the risk of injuries, increases flexibility, functionality, and strength. Control is important in learning one’s muscle strength, coordination, and flexibility; it is needed to hold a pencil to write and academic readiness.
We are using the gong in our Culture-in-Focus: China party as part of the dragon dance and lion dance. We are crashing the gongs to ring in good luck and scare away bad luck!