media picture 2My only complaint about boomwhackers is that they weren’t around when I was a child. I’m so glad that I get to “play” them with my students.

I have used them with children as young as four. Parents and grandparents love to “help” if we need extra hands. Those that can’t read music can still participate if you use color coded music. There are many songs that can be purchased or chose some music that you like and make up your own charts.

I have drawn colored squares on poster board for familiar songs and will point to the squares at the correct time. Even my youngest students can follow along. Boom-whackers cannot sustain a note, so I draw grey squares to indicate the extra beats. Good songs to try for beginners are Twinkle Little Star, and Ode to Joy. For Christmas Songs try Jingle Bells, and Jolly Old Saint Nicholas.

  1. Begin by reading the earlier blog and then gather your supplies and materials. You will need some sort of tube. The one that I used was a 10” concrete form tube from Home Depot. You will also find it handy to have a cutting mat, pen, utility knife and sticky resistant scissors. I found the scissors at Wal-mart, but craft stores will probably have them as well. These are not necessary to have, but for some of the cutting jobs they do seem to work easier than the utility knife. Some people prefer to just rip the tape, but I find that the end gets stretched when ripped. It’s just a personal preference though; you get to choose your level of fussiness.

  2. Your next job is to make a fabric circle for the inside of the drum. You will need 2 pieces of tape 7” long, 2 pieces 10” long and 3 pieces 11” long. Place them on the cutting mat as illustrated in picture #2 overlapping the edges by 1/4”. Place the tube on the fabric and draw a circle using the inside of the drum as a template. Using a craft knife, cut out the circle and remove the excess tape. Set the fabric circle aside for later. Please note:  It’s not necessary to do this step if you don’t mind the inside of your drum being sticky. I just prefer that when we perform outdoors that the bugs don’t get stuck on the sticky residue. Ugh!!!

drum 7No matter what instrument you teach, it’s great to be able to get the students to play rhythm patterns on a drum to facilitate learning to keep the beat. However my students complain that their hands hurt after just a few minutes on the djembe or bongos. So I thought I’d try to make some drums out of duck tape and cardboard tubes used for concrete foundations.

I already had most of the supplies on hand, so my only investment was $15.00 for the tube and some more colors of duck tape. I used a 10” diameter tube from Home Depot, and the duck tape can be bought there as well, or try Wal-Mart for an amazing choice of colors and pattens. Keep in mind that the colors and especially the patterns are considerably more expensive than plain old grey.

I decided to do all the drum heads in grey to keep the costs down, and since the audience doesn’t really see that part anyway. I also decided to limit color choices to prevent arguing over who gets which one. Favorite saying: “you get what you get and you don’t get upset”. If you mention this before handing out the drums they are much more compliant.

Each drum takes approximately ½ hour to complete, so in five hours I had 10 completed drums. You will need a way to cut the tube; I have a handy husband with a scary saw that I won’t go near (the saw that is). One tube provided us with 3 – 7”, 3 -9”, 3 – 11”, and 1 – 15” drum. My students are ages 3 – adult so I wanted to have a variety of sizes. Decide what will work with your group.

If you decide to let the students decorate their own drums, be aware that many find working with duck tape awkward so be prepared for more spoilage as the tape sticks to anything, especially itself. Once the drums are finished, it’s time for fun.

The first song we tried was “Banuwa”, from Nancy and Randall Faber’s Piano Adventures Level 2B Gold Star Performance. It comes with a CD with a lovely recording that just lends itself beautifully to drumming. I demonstrated it once and on the second time through the kids played it perfectly. My guinea pigs that day were only 4 and 7. To say that I was impressed is an understatement. They didn’t want to stop. And there were no complaints about sore hands. We’ll upload instructions on how to make the drums next time. Until then check out duck tape colors, and pick your favorites.

Yes a 3 year can begin piano lessons. I have taught several little tykes including my own granddaughters. I feel that the earlier that they are exposed to listening to and then creating their own music, the more the music center develops in the brain. By the time they are 6 or 7, they catch on to new concepts much quicker, than my later starting students.

The best instrument for little fingers is probably a keyboard. The keys have less resistance than a piano. Make sure that the stool is set high enough that the childs arms are parallel to the floor when the child is playing the piano or keyboard. They should also have a stool for their feet, as dangly feet will soon start swinging to stop them from falling asleep.

joyful noise pianoWe want our children to enjoy the experience of learning music, and as teachers we are also hoping to instill the joy of learning such an artful form of expression to the next generation.  Why then do tears sometimes flow during lesson time?

Children naturally want to please and when they feel that they are not performing to the teacher’s expectations, the emotions can be overwhelming.   The teacher should stress that all musicians make mistakes but if we keep on trying we will get better.  Let the student know that you will never get cross with them if mistakes happen or if they find something difficult.  Tell them that it is your job to patiently teach until they get it and all that you ask of them is that they keep trying.

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