The Chopsticks learned about Japanese culture this summer through singing and dancing to “Sakura,” playing the autoharp (sounds like a koto), and playing the kokoriko. We learned how to dance in Japanese style with large and slow arm movements; contrary to American style with varying body size and speed. To keep the students engaged for a slow song and movement, I scheduled a free dance at the beginning of music. We danced to “Boom Boom Pow,” “Dynamite,” and “Party Rock.” Students moved their bodies fast to the American song and then were calm and ready to focus on the Japanese style.
Today, I introduced the newest instrument, the kokoriko. The kokoriko is a Japanese percussion instrument made of pieces of wood fastened together by a leather strip. I had some colorful clatterpillars (looks like caterpillars) that are modeled after the kokoriko. Students were mesmerized by the sound and the pieces of wood going from one side to the other. Simple to play, students instantly liked them.
The “Sakura” song has been our project this summer. We made a recording of the Chopsticks singing and dancing “Sakura.” The students put together their very own Chopsticks band, singing, playing, and conducting “Sakura.” It has been a cultural experience this summer and I am so enthusiastic about the way the students immersed themselves in the Japanese culture.
Listen and watch to the Chopsticks perform “Sakura.” Enjoy!