The melody of «glass»

Melodic experiences with glass and water

    School sections
    • Primary
    • Lower secondary school
    Educational subjects
    • Instrumental practice
    • Aural skills (Ear training)

The melody of «glass»

The project carried out at the Comprehensive Institute Strampelli in Castelraimondo (MC) fostered a melodic musical experience through the use of musical objects, such as glass bottles and glasses. Therefore, the path highlighted that in the absence of traditional instruments (xylophones, glockenspiels, keyboards, recorders or other instruments), it is possible to develop melodic paths utilizing unusual instruments. In this case, the students performed melodies, even with more parts, utilizing glass objects that, by adding water, performed all the notes of a diatonic or chromatic scale on the basis of the needs of the moment. The path covered all three aspects laid down in the guidelines of the primary school curriculum with reference to music: listening, production, and writing-reading. In the first stage, the various performance possibilities were explored both with regard to glasses and bottles, working with the aim to improve the techniques used for the emission of sounds produced by glasses struck by mallets, through friction - such as the glass harmonica - and by blowing inside bottles. Then, we worked on improvisation on the pentatonic scale, fostering the creation of rhythmic cells and melodic sequences within a well-defined 8 bar musical period. The project continued with the realization of several pieces with more parts, always using glasses and bottles. One class performed Pachelbel’s 4-part canon using bottles, and the other class performed Shostakovich’s Waltz no.2 and Mozart’s Turkish Rondo. The pieces were first transcribed according to Kodaly notation, in order to allow the decoding of the score by students that did not know how to read the traditional notation on the pentagram. One of the most important aspects of this activity was the cooperation between all the members of the group-class; each student performed a part of the melody, which was fundamental to achieve the final result, and implied the knowledge of one’s individual part, as well as attention towards the others’ parts and the memorization of the entire melody, in order to perform one’s fragment at the right moment, making the performance fluid, without interruptions. To this aim, it was necessary to follow a path that ranged from listening, to motor reproduction and reading of the notation, through a constant evaluation that facilitated the following collaborative phase, making the work within the group more effective and pleasant. The project also provided for a final performance where the students had the possibility to stage the results achieved. This allowed them to work on the emotional impact of a public performance and on self-control. The public performance had a remarkable impact on the students, who had to manage their emotions, remaining at the same time concentrated on the activity that they were carrying out. The same thing took place in class, during the lesson, fostering an increase in the students’ self-esteem and in their level of self-control, providing a precious contribution to their emotional and cognitive development. The project was mainly based on laboratory activities and aimed to improve learning and teaching processes.

Work tools

In order to realize the project, the spaces utilized were the classrooms free from desks and chairs enabling the students to sit on the floor so as to avoid, as much as possible, the risk of breaking glasses or bottles. In fact, working with potentially dangerous material, it was necessary to pay particular attention in order to avoid any problems. The materials used were as follows:

- glasses of various size
- glass bottles of various size
- water to modify the intonation of the glasses and bottles
- a tuner used to tune the bottles
- a glockenspiel or another melodic instrument used to tune the glasses
- pieces of paper on which to write the score to be played
- teaspoons used as mallets on the glasses
- backing tracks for the improvisation on the pentatonic scale

Educational purposes

The skills, goals and training objectives selected by the teacher for this experience are shown below.

    • Sound perception
    • Interpretation
    • Analysis
    • Comprehension
    • Execution
    • Improvisation
    Reading and Writing
    • Use of unconventional analogic music notation
    • Use of conventional analogic music notation
    • Learning to listen to oneself and to the others
    • Identify the constitutive elements of a simple piece of music
    • Exploring, identifying and elaborating sound phenomena on the basis of quality, space and source
    • Exploring different expressive capacities of voice, musical objects and musical instruments
    • Producing timbre, melodic and rhythmic combinations applying basic schemes; executing them with the voice, the body and instruments (including IT tools).
    • Improvising freely and creatively gradually learning to master techniques and materials
    • Playing, alone or in group, simple vocal or instrumental pieces of music belonging to different genres and cultures, using also didactic instruments and self-made tools.
    Reading and Writing
    • Using analog and codified notation
Educational targets

General educational objectives

The students learned how to:
- develop their creative and expressive potentialities for a greater awareness of themselves
- live musical experiences with an active and constructive attitude
- improve themselves, their personalities, their sensitivity through the knowledge and performance of various musical genres
- promote the harmonic development of their personality
- grow in their self-awareness owing to the favorable conditions created at school, and assert their identity enhancing the peculiar aspects of their personality
- acquire knowledge of the social reality, and share their experiences
- develop their critical thinking, and the ability to self-orient and integrate themselves in the current society
- enhance their educational and interpersonal relations, in a group, in class, at school and especially in the presence of students with disabilities
- use new technologies
- be motivated in their studies and in a personalized learning, according to the general indications
- participate actively in the realization of musical experiences by performing and interpreting instrumental pieces belonging to different genres and cultures.

Specific objectives


The students learned how to:
- develop their listening skills and their ability to pay attention
- identify the characteristics of sounds on the basis of the source and timbre
- identify well-defined 8-bar musical periods
- play a specific melody within the context of other parts performed by classmates, reaching an overall knowledge of the entire piece
- develop and realize musical messages, also through improvisation o participating in collective formulation processes


The students learned how to:
- explore the instruments at disposal developing various performance techniques, both with glass bottles and glasses
- perform timbre, rhythmic and melodic combinations with instruments
- improvise using the pentatonic scale for a well-defined 8-bar musical period
- improvise managing to synchronize to the beat, and create even more complex rhythmic-melodic cells
- perform instrumental pieces with more parts in an expressive way, both collectively and individually
- perform homorhythmic chords, both with glasses and glass bottles
- perform their own part in the exact moment established in the score coordinating listening, emission and motor reproduction to foster a fluid performance without interruptions
- perform a piece through the living piano technique where each student performs a part of the overall melodic
- achieve a correct technique and methodology fit to tackle the study of an instrument


The students learned how to:
- use different notation systems functional to reading, analyzing and producing musical pieces
- decode a musical notation using the Kodaly method
- use analogic or coded forms of notation


Commenti inseriti
Slide "The melody of «glass»"
Presentazione della buona pratica Download
Link utili
Gruppo "Bottle boys" (varie modalità di suonare con le bottiglie) Click here
Glass Harmonica Click here
Bicchieri percossi 1 Click here
Bicchieri percossi 2 Click here
Materiali finalizzati all'azione didattica
Canone Pachelbel spartito varie parti - notazione Kodalyana Download
PACHELBEL bottiglie necessarie Download
waltz n. 2 bottiglie accompagnamento Download
waltz n. 2 bottiglie tema Download