The Chopsticks students’ theme is Japan and in music, we are exploring Japanese music and movement. We are learning the song “Sakura,” meaning “Cherry Blossom.” We started singing the lyrics in Japanese today, reading the Japanese pronunciations. Accompanied by the autoharp with Am and Dm chords, the instrument really gives the song a Japanese feel. The song is typically accompanied by a koto, a Japanese instrument, and the autoharp sounds similar to the koto.
Curious about the new instrument, students were excited to try the autoharp. The autoharp requires coordination, flexibility, and spatial awareness to play. Students cross one hand and arm over to strum the strings while the other hand pushes down on a button to create the chord. They have to make sure their arm is close to their body, giving themselves enough room to strum with the other hand. It is a “cool” and “fun” new instrument to start the Japan unit.