MIM, Musical Instrument Museum


     First of all, I'd like to thank my good friend, Martha Chang, for mentioning this amazing museum to us.  It is definitely a favorite, and a must return to place.  It is located in Phoenix, Arizona.  What makes it so amazing is the technology they use.  It isn't just rooms of musical instruments, but you can listen to how they sound, and watch people play them.  You are given a headset at the entrance.  There are monitors at the many exhibits that automatically turn on into your ears.  They are all on continuous loops of 2-4 examples.

This was a Where's Bridget? post on FaceBook.  Behind me is a large log/slit drum.

Here is my favorite!  There were lots of these in my music room!

 This bass was amazing!  It used levers and had 3 strings.

There was another display about innovations

I thought this quite interesting.  One of my favorite 5th grade lessons was one where the students were to bring in "found sounds" and then create a rhythm piece.  It was to be similar to "Stomp"

     Upstairs has the amazing rooms dedicated to instruments from around the world.   In the first picture, it gives you an idea of how the displays were set up.  You can see a lady with the radio around her neck, and the screens that show the videos.  Very well made.  Even if the screens were close together, there wasn't any interference from another screen.  No buttons to push, it just automatically plays a continuous loop when you walk up to it. 
     As an elementary music teacher, my room was stocked with many percussion instruments.  I have learned from my visit here more on where they would be from.  Also, how similar they could be from country to country, or continent to continent.  The varied stringed instruments were especially interesting.
     The picture on the left has instruments similar to what I had.  Of course, a conga drum.  The gourd with beads, I called a shekera, but had many names at the museum.  The hourglass shaped drum on the wall I called a talking drum.  You squeeze it between your arm and side while hitting it with a stick.  The strings change the tension of the heads causing the pitch to go up and down. 

   One of my favorite units was teaching world drumming to the 6th grade.  That would be during the last quarter of the school year.  Always a hit.  At the end of the unit I would play a favorite DVD called "Pulse".  This was made by the creator's of "Stomp."   The owner filmed rhythm groups from around the world and made the video.  One scene were Africans dressed traditionally and playing drums just like the one on the bottom right.

      Many of you know my ties to Ethiopia.  I was interested in seeing the instruments for this country.  In the first picture you see on the far left a small instrument.  It has jingles on it.  I have one.  Ethiopia is a very religious, Orthodox Christian country.  The display showed examples of music in their religious ceremonies.

I don't remember which country this was from (it was from Africa, though).  It isn't an instrument, it's a skirt!  A skirt of goat hooves!  Rattling goat hooves make quite an interesting sound.  I had goat hooves in my classroom tied together to make a rattle.  Mine were from South America.  I had even seen them played in a group of pan pipers on the streets of NYC.  I always asked the kids if they could guess what they were made of.  I loved the squeals when I told them.
 More interesting instruments.  
 Home made guitars.

 Trough Zithers.  

      Some displays showed beautiful costumes.

So many interesting stringed instruments

 I've always loved the sounds of the siftar and tabla. 

Here's the double nose flute.  You haven't lived until you've had recorder students trying to play their recorders with their noses.  I would just roll my eyes and tell them as long as they used their own recorders, not the school recorders.  They wouldn't do it for long.  Novelty wore off.

We are getting into the Asian continent, as you can see.  

    Since Richard is of Japanese descent, I was interested in the Japanese display.  What?  No Taiko drums?  Stay tuned........

 I had one of these in the music room, too.  Didn't know it was from Japan.

      Gamelan instruments!!!!  I have seen many videos of these instruments.  LOVE the sound!  I never knew they had puppet shows!  The video for this display showed several puppet shows.

I am going to end this with the single nostril nose flute.  

I have a lot more that I will show in the next post.  I took many pictures in the Africa and Asia continents, then realized I was going through the museum at a very slow rate.  I hope you enjoyed this post.  


  1. Glad you had a good time at the MIM, my own visit to it was one of the great memories I have of my times in AZ. Did you know Martha's dad volunteers time there as one of the docents?

    While I was there, a kid, with his proud parents nearby, sat at the provided piano in the lobby and played it very well. Such talent.

  2. Glad you had fun...my dad has been a docent there for several winter seasons. He's volunteered at a wide range of museums during his retirement and consistently mentions this one as one of the best run, organized museums he's worked with.

    1. I wish I could have seen him. We would have had such a great discussion!


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