During a Glass Harp Music assembly program, Brien performs music of different styles and periods, playing the Glass Harp– a collection of stemware, each glass assigned a specific pitch. Along with the history of glass and water-tuned music, he also showcases other musical instruments made from everyday materials.
The presentation is full of novel sound physics demonstration to support units taught in the classroom. Participatory segments include an audience member playing a glass in a duet with Brien, and another assisting with a string and ‘explorer-cam’ recreation of violin bow friction. Water tuning is demonstrated with water and rice bowls. Vibration is demonstrated using a goblet and a Ping-Pong ball, and a collection of Tibetan singing bowls. Musical saw is also featured.
Another segment of the program introduces Ben Franklin’s favorite invention, the glass armonica! This intriguing instrument was inspired by the Glass Harp. Questions and song requests are welcome towards the end of this inspiring performance. Included with all performances is a half-hour documentary: The Glass Harp and other Musical Oddities. This mp4 movie can be shared at leisure with the entire school as either preparation or follow-up.
My specialty as an artist in education is in showing how our ‘science’ and ‘music’ brains are wired up together. Humans have enjoyed music forever, yet it’s also an exercise in anticipating repetition and patterns of life— part of the work of science. This underscores everything technical I have to share about how sound works, and in showing examples of improvised instruments. I aim for a balanced experience, showing my audience I am connected to the glass harp art form, while making the educational material come alive. It is a source of pride and inspiration for my own continuing education in life, and communication with an audience.