Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by brooke . brooke Wonders, “what did people do in the old days for fun” Thanks for WONDERing with us, brooke !
How do you spend your spare time? Do you play video games? How about board games? Do you like to read? In the past, people had fun in many of the same ways we do today. They played games, told each other stories, and played music. In fact, music has always been one of our most popular hobbies! It’s been around about as long as people have.
Human beings have played music for 43,000 years. Isn’t that a long time? Music has changed over the years, but people are still just as interested in it today. Have you ever heard music at a concert or festival? People in the past listened to it the same way. Early humans used music to bring their communities together. In that way, they were a lot like us.
Do you know how to pick a banjo? Have you ever played a tune on a recorder? Many instruments we play today are like the ones played by the first human beings. What were these ancient instruments like?
In Australia, Aboriginal people enjoyed playing the didgeridoo. It’s a horn that makes a low sound. The didgeridoo is one of the oldest instruments in the world, dating back 40,000 years! It’s nearly as old as the first flutes, which Europeans made from mammoth ivory 43,000 years ago. People all over Europe danced to music from these flutes!
In Russia, they played another wind instrument called the mouth harp. These came much later, around 1,700 years ago. Scientists recently found an ancient Russian mouth harp that could still play music! Another wind instrument that’s stuck around is the panpipe, a popular way to make music among American Indians. Panpipes are made by putting together several tubes of different sizes. When you blow over the tops of the tubes, it makes different notes!
In Ancient China, people gathered around to hear the pipa. It was shaped like a pear and had four strings. Centuries later, South Americans played the charango. The charango has ten strings and was originally made from armadillo shells. Many people still play charangos today. Fortunately for armadillos, modern musicians make the instruments from wood.
Do you walk to the beat of your own drum? Percussion instruments have always been common! American Indians entertained their tribes with drums made of wood and deerskin. Ancient Africans brought their friends together to play percussion instruments called thumb pianos. Called the “Mbira,” these five-key instruments go back over 3,000 years. Some of them have survived to modern times!
Do you like to play music? Which of these instruments would you most like to play or hear? Do you have a favorite instrument we didn’t include? We’d love to hear about it!