Teaching Ideas

Encouraging Dialogue

For Students K-12

  • What do you think this horn is made from?

  • Do you see any figures or creatures on this horn? What kind?

  • Horns and trumpets have a long association with warfare for the Mende peoples. Are there non-weapon items or instruments that you associate with warfare? What are they, and what is their purpose? Are there specific sounds or music that you associate with warfare? Why?

  • Horns, for the Mende peoples, are valued for their appearance as much as for the sound they make. What about this horn suggests that its visual appearance was important and valued?

Making Connections


For Students K-12

  • Compare the figures carved into this Side-blown horn to those carved into the Waist pendant (1994.201.McD) from the Edo peoples of Benin. Both objects are made from ivory.

  • Consider the size of this horn and how it was played. Roll a large sheet of cardboard into a cone and cut it to the horn’s dimensions (23 ¾ x 2 ¼ x 3 ¾ in. or 60.33 x 5.72 x 9.53 cm). Try to hold it as though you were playing the instrument. Keep in mind the mouthpiece is located on the side of the horn. How does its size affect your posture or the position of your body?

  • The Dallas Museum of Art’s collection includes many works of art that relate to music and instruments. Some of the works have religious and ceremonial connections, while others are secular. Some are two-dimensional, while others are sculptural. Explore and compare Side-blown horn_ with the following artworks: _Rock Rock _by Richard Lidner, a rock and roll star; _Starry Crown _by John Biggers (1989.13), which is named after a traditional African American spiritual; _Leadbelly (1950.91), a portrait of an important singer; the Senufo drum (1981.139.FA); and _The Guitarist _by Pablo Picasso (1987.371). Write a comparative essay or creative short story, which incorporates at least two of these DMA works of art.

  • Review the function and meaning of this Mende horn with particular focus on its use in warfare. Research the history and role of musical instruments in American warfare, beginning with bugles in the Civil War. Create a visual and textual presentation of your findings and share it with classmates.