By Laura Dukes Times Correspondent – Carroll County Times
He called himself “The Junkman,” but on Monday, Donald Knaack delivered lessons to Sandymount Elementary School students that many would consider golden.
During the PTA-sponsored presentation, Knaack, a Vermont resident, taught students how to appreciate reused products as musical instruments. He delivered a few anecdotes about life on the side.
“Music is actually the only thing in the world that people agree on,” Knaack said to Sandymount third-graders, asking them why they thought that was.
The answer: Music is inside of everyone as evidenced by the beat of a heart.
“Your body is about rhythm and water, essentially. Without it, you’re not here,” he said.
Knaack divided the students into teams with each group getting a chance to stand in the center of a circle and “play” items like old wooden boards, frying pans and bottles. The teams that were not “jamming on some junk,” as Knaack said, were asked to clap and stomp along with the beat.
“If your body is fluid, you will be fluid. If your body is stiff, you will be stiff,” Knaack told the students. “And that’s not just in music; that’s in life, too.”
Sandymount Elementary Guidance Counselor Andy Yount explained that the school’s PTA usually sponsors some type of school-wide workshop related to either music or drama. Since third-graders made their own instruments out of recycled products in the fall, Yount said the Junkman was a perfect fit.
“I like the teamwork part of it. This especially gets the kids working together” Yount said of Knaack’s presentation.
Knaack explained to the students that percussion music is when something is rubbed, shaken or struck to make a sound. However, he said people need to be mindful of what they are using to strike an object.
“A lot of people believe when you play percussion you pick up things and you strike stuff. That’s how you break stuff,” Knaack said, using the example of an empty bottle that would need to be struck by something soft.
A lot of Knaack’s presentation also related to concentration. He assigned each third-grader a number, then he pointed to each student so they could say their number back to create a beat. If a student wasn’t looking at Knaack when he pointed at him or her, the beat was lost.
“Teachers could use this as a lesson for the classroom to stay with the beat,” Yount said. “And that constant theme of teamwork keeps coming in.”
Sandymount Elementary Vice Principal Mary Gauker said she hoped that through Knaack’s presentation, the students would gain a deeper appreciation for music, imagination and recycling.
“It’s all an idea of re-using and re-making,” Gauker said.
While all grades saw Knaack’s presentation at some point during the day, a select group of third-graders were picked to eat lunch with the Junkman.
Gaunker said these third-graders were chosen because their own recycled instruments particularly exemplified out of the box work.
“You can make instruments out of everything,” said 8-year-old Hannah Choplick.
Hannah said she made a banjo/drumstick/scraper last fall out of rubber bands, a drumstick and a ruler.
Third-graders Joshua Staubs and Sara Hawley said they both made their own drums last fall.
Sara, 9, said hers consisted of one large can with a smaller can inside of it and beads inside the smaller can.
“It kind of made a bang when you hit it. I hit it with a stick,” Sara said.
Joshua, 9, said that Knaack’s presentation taught him that anyone could make music just by stomping and clapping to a beat.
“A lot of people think you play music from up here,” Knaack said, point to his head. “It’s not true.”
He told the students that instead, you play from your heart and your gut.
“Once you learn the mechanics, you free yourself,” he said.
Link to original article: http://www.carrollcountytimes.com/news/local/sandymount-students-make-music-with-the-junkman/article_a059549c-a19e-55d0-94ac-d9d96f362782.html