Monday, July 22, 2013

Make a Tube Drum

Tube Drum How-to

This is one of my FAVORITE drums to play, and my professional percussionist friends can't believe I made it. This drum costs $35 to make and yet rivals drums costing six times as much.

How I used this............

 make this:


Materials List: 
A concrete pillar form (AKA Sono tube), 8", 10", 12" or 14" diameter, depending on the size of drum you want (available at major hardware stores)

Wooden embroidery hoop, one size larger than the diameter of the form/tube

Drum head, 3-4" greater in diameter than your tube  (a medium thick skin/hide or rip-stop nylon/pack cloth). I ordered the skin head pictured here from 

Gorilla glue

White glue, clear-drying such as Elmer's brand

Mod Podge (or two parts white glue mixed with one part water)

Colorful fabric, (woven, not knit), width=drum height; length=drum's circumference plus 2"

Jute or flat braided trim

Tools: small saw, staple gun & staples, small clamps for gluing, scissors, foam brush

Note: If you want to create a Tubano apparatus, you will also need an 8" to 14" square of Masonite (depending on the diameter of your pillar form/tube) and a 4" diameter PVC pipe collar. I have not found that adding this feature improves tone contrast much or is worth the work on a homemade drum, especially if you use nylon cloth for the head. However, I will include basic directions and a link for more detailed instructions in case this is a feature you want to add.


1 - Determine and cut the drum height you want (2' for kids, up to 3' for adults). Measure and mark the height around the sono tube, and then cut it with a saw and/or box knife (or better yet, have it done at the hardware store).

2 - Reinforce upper edge. Cut the inner ring of the wooden embroidery hoop and trim it to fit snugly inside the tube. Apply Gorilla Glue to the inside upper edge of your drum, press the wooden ring into the glue, clamp it to hold it in place, and allow glue to dry.


2b - If desired, create and install a Tubano ring at this point (optional). See instructions at the end of this post.

3 - Shape and reinforce the bottom edge. Mark and cut out three arcs or rectangles (2.5" x 3"), evenly spaced around the bottom edge. (These 'open doors' will let the sound out.) Reinforce the bottom edges by gluing and clamping wood pieces cut from the outer ring of the embroidery hoop. 


4 - Soak the drum head in a tub of lukewarm water for about an hour. Lay the skin on a towel and blot it when you take it out of the water, and then immediately move to the next step. If using pack cloth in lieu of skin, soak it in hot tap water for ten minutes and blot.

5- Stretch and staple the head onto the side of the top edge, driving staples into the embroidery hoop. Important: Ensure even tension on the head by stapling at points that correspond with 12 o’clock and 6:00, 3:00 and 9:00, etc.  Continue stretching and stapling the head across the drum. Then trim excess close to staples.

6- Apply fabric and trim. Coat the outer drum body with Mod-Podge (or substitute 2/3 white and 1/3 water mixture). Quickly lay fabric onto and around the drum body and smooth out any wrinkles. Trim fabric if needed. Then apply a generous layer of Mod-Podge onto the fabric. Apply a line of white glue (dries clear) along the seam where the fabric edges meet. As the glue dries, you may want to check and press the seam to ensure it lays flat and looks neat. Glue braided jute, trim or fabric around the top edge of drum to conceal staples and add personality.

Instructions for Adding a Tubano Apparatus:
(Do this between steps 2 and 3 above.)
2b - Place your drum tube on the Masonite sheet and trace the inner edge of the tube onto the Masonite. Cut out this circle with a hack saw.
2c - Next, center the 4" PVC collar in your Masonite circle and snugly trace the outside edge. Cut the 4" circle out (drill center to get started).
2d - Use Gorilla Glue to mount one end of the PVC collar in center of Masonite.
2e - Measure and mark 1/4 of the way up from the bottom of your drum tube.
2f - Insert the Tubano apparatus into the drum with the PVC piece facing toward bottom, and push it above your 1/4 way markings (so it can be moved down later).
2g - From the outside of the drum, drive staples a few inches apart around the circumference of the drum. (This creates a 'shelf' for the Masonite ring to rest on.)
2h - Push the Masonite ring down to rest on the staples and apply Gorilla Glue around the top edge of the ring inner side of tube.

Sorry, I didn't take any pictures of this process, but here's a link to another beautiful do-it-yourself drum with detailed pics of the Tubano apparatus (using an oatmeal container instead of a PVC collar):

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Freebie: Music Class Rules Poster

I can hardly believe I'm seeing back-to-school ads on TV already! However, as teachers, we're all thinking about and preparing for the coming school year most of the summer. 
Here's something to brighten your classroom, save you some prep time, and help with behavior management. I've seen several variations of classroom rules on Pinterest using 'MUSIC' as an acrostic, so I decided to share my version as a freebie. This poster is designed to print on legal-size paper (8.5 x 14"), but it can be enlarged or printed on smaller paper and tiled/mounted. This is a free download from my TPT shop, and you'll receive both formats in the PDF.
These rules cover my expectations and support positive behavior very well. I hope you'll find them useful too.  
This poster is part of my set of MUSIC POSTERS - Elements Anchor Charts & Rules. I have created many additional coordinating charts, posters, borders, word wall cards and teaching aids. As with most of my products, I include multicolor and black & white formats.
You can check them out in my TPT Store:
                                 Thanks for visiting : )

Thursday, July 11, 2013

"Glassical' Music Part 2 - Making a Glass Harp / Armonica

There isn't another acoustic sound quite like the glass armonica. Here's my easy-to-make, inexpensive version.  

* Glass stemware or bowls with round, smooth, non-ridged sides 
   (It doesn't have to be crystal.) 
* Silicone adhesive
* An old platter, sturdy cookie sheet, or piece of plywood
* Permanent marker(s)

Line up your glasses on a table and tap. listen, and sort them from lowest to highest pitch. If your glassware is all from the same set, the pieces will be close in pitch, but there will be differences. (Sorting will extend your range.)

Next, fill the lowest pitched glass with an inch (or less) of water. Dip your fingers into water and firmly rub the rim of the glass at until is 'sings'. Identify the pitch this first glass produces by comparing it to another instrument or using an electronic tuner or phone app. You'll want to use the lowest note possible for your first glass so you can have a greater range, but your instrument will be more versatile if you create it in a common key such as C, G, F or D. So explore your best options for a tonic (first note of scale). If a note is flat, add some water; if it's sharp, remove some water. Once you have established your first note and its water level, mark the water level on the outside of the glass with a permanent marker and write the note name. 

Pour slightly more water into the second glass than you did the first, wet your fingers, rub the rim, and then tune the note it produces to the second degree of your chosen scale (by slightly increasing or decreasing water). Mark the water level. Continue this process for subsequent glasses/notes of your scale.

Note: Different scales (major, minor, blues, pentatonic, ethnic) and neighboring keys can be achieved with the same set of glassware. If you desire this versatility, mark each tone set with a different colored marker.

Once you have your pitches marked, empty the glasses and make sure their bases are dry. Arrange your notes/glasses on the base (platter or board) in a logical order and allow adequate space between glass rims. Apply silicone adhesive to the bottom of each glass, set them in place, and allow silicone to cure for a few hours. 


You can easily make larger instruments, but for classroom use and portability, a five to eight note set works well. (I lined a sturdy cardboard box with an old towel to create a case for storage and transport.)

Picture on left: Glass armonica being played in Rome, Italy.
Photo by Adrian Pingstone, Wikimedia Commons.

Link to a video of Ave Maria being played on glasses:

History of the Glass Armonica (Ben Franklin) and resources:
Link to an online, interactive glass armonica: