Mrs. Helling is quite in tune these days with her music students at Maple Grove Elementary. They are excited about the new instruments they received last year from a classroom grant provided by the Waukee Community Schools Foundation. Mrs. Helling was able to purchase five Contra Bass Bars. In the picture above, it’s the large box on the left. The Contra Bass Bar features an acoustically accurate tone chamber and provides a harmonic and rhythmic foundation to her budding musicians. Mrs. Helling says the bass bar serves to anchor the tonal center of the music. “In a way, it provides a stronger sense of the home tone of the music we make,” she said.

Mrs. Helling uses the Contra Bass Bar along with xylophones and glockenspiels. The Contra Bass Bar sets the tone and the rhythm to start, with the other instruments and voices joining in. Students rotate around the room, so everyone has the chance to play a different instrument.

Students always have a big reaction when they hear the Contra Bass Bar for the first time. “Huge eyes, dropped jaw, and then, when do we get to play THAT?” she said. Besides being fun, the bars also aid students in singing in tune. “Students are able to distinguish the tonal center because the bass bar stands out in a different way than the other instruments. As a building, we are looking for ways to include more moments of mindfulness, and the bass bar left a lasting impact on our classwork,” she said.

Mrs. Helling said she typically uses the bars with students in grades 3-5. However, last year, she also collaborated with 1st-grade teachers for their Sound Exploration unit in Science. Students listened to the Contra Bass Bar and were able to feel the vibration of the sound wave in their bodies. Teachers said it all led to a deeper understanding and conversation in their classrooms!

Click here to visit Mrs. Helling’s Music Class!

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