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No. 25 Join nature's band

Family visitors playing grass trumpets in the garden in August at Killerton, Devon
Family visitors playing grass trumpets in the garden at Killerton | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

Head to any wild place, stop and listen for a minute. It won't take long to notice the music of nature and the longer you listen, the more you'll hear. Birds singing, woodpeckers tapping, trees rustling, waves crashing and streams bubbling. These are just some of the sounds that nature makes. You're a part of nature too, so head outside and join nature’s band and take part in ‘50 things to do before you’re 11¾’.

Imitate an animal

What creatures can you hear around you? Is a blackbird calling? Or maybe a fox is barking? You might hear the scurry of a mouse or the hoot of an owl. Think about what kind of animal noises can be heard and what that animal might be saying. Is it alarmed by something? Or is it singing to celebrate the arrival of summer?

Once you’ve listened closely, try to imitate this animal or bird. Did they respond to you? Or did they go quiet and watch you closely? Maybe you can incorporate your animal sounds into a song with other natural musical instruments.

Find inspiration around you

What can you find in nature that could make a great instrument? Have a look around you for ideas.

A couple of sticks and a tree trunk or a hollow log can make a great drum. What else can you use your sticks on to keep a beat? Maybe there’s a fence or a wall nearby.

You can also look for two large smooth stones and see if you bang them together to keep a beat. Beating different parts of the stones may create a different sound.

Look under your feet

You can create all sorts of music just by using your feet. Shuffle in time on a footpath, tap dance in puddles, squash dead leaves underfoot or in your hands. Can you create a rhythm out of all these sounds?

Make a grass trumpet

For the first try, find a wide blade of grass. Once you've got the hang of it, you can try with different sizes to see if you get a different sound or tone.

Put your thumbs together and where there's a gap, that's where your blade of grass should go. It can help to hold the grass in place using your thumb knuckles first and then clamp it into position with the bottom of your hand.

Press your lips to your thumbs with the grass between them and blow. The grass should make a wailing, screeching sound, which will probably frighten anyone standing too close to you. Next make a small hole in the blade of grass with your fingernail - when you blow into it, you should hear an even louder noise than before.

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