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.

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