Friday, April 5, 2013


When I first encountered a set of Boomwhackers years ago, I would have never guessed the phenomenal success they would have. I've always enjoyed making homemade instruments, so these 'boom tubes' fit into my novelty category, and that seemed good enough. I didn't think Boomwhackers were especially musical, the intonation was often poor, and the name conjured up visions of students smacking everything in sight! So yes, I resisted them for a while...

But then I began working with dozens of schools with very limited budgets. Orff instruments weren't an option; handbells or ukuleles - not a chance. Yet, I still needed to train teachers and their students how to play melodies and create ostinatos and chord accompaniments in a hands-on, enjoyable way. Happily, I discovered the Octavator Caps, which (1) greatly enhance the BW tone, (2) drop the pitch an octave, and (3) enable tapping the capped end on a soft surface such as the heel of the hand or carpeted floor. And I found that kneading the tubes into a round, smooth shape (and avoiding squishing them in storage) helped improve intonation.

I started experimenting with techniques I've used with resonator bells and handbells. (I'd used a color-coded system of my own for 20 years, so I simply tweaked it to match BWs.) Another 'booming' surprise has been how well my Color-Chord-inated song collections have been received by many teachers. (See my TPT listings at

Anyway, after seeing these cRaZy TuBeS work well in so many situations, I must admit I'm a fan! They have enabled thousands of students in my district to engage in, explore and create music, and I've discovered some useful integrations too. (I mentor elementary classroom teachers as well as music teachers.)

Here's a
 FREEBIE chart with the color-coded chromatic scale and common chords on the treble staff, which you can project or print. (Click on the image above to open and save/print a high-resolution file.) If desired, you can scale/enlarge when you print and then cut out note or chord cards. Simply click on it to download. You'll find another Boomwhacker FREEBIE in my Partner Song Freebie post (3/7/2013). In coming days, I will post additional ideas for using Boomwhackers to engage students in enjoyable learning experiences. Thanks for visiting!

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