Wednesday, May 9, 2012

DIY Palm Pipes


The drinking straw flute was such a success, I was anxious for my son to make another instrument. When I found instructions to make palm pipes out of PVC here, I knew my son would be psyched.

We started with one 5-foot length of ½-inch cold water PVC pipe (price: less than $2). My husband cut it into the following lengths:
23.6 cm (F)
21.0 cm (G)
18.75 cm (A)
17.5 cm (B flat)
15.8 cm (C)
14 cm (D)
12.5 cm (E)
11.8 cm (F)
With some fine-grit sandpaper, we smoothed the edges a bit.

When my son came home from school, we read a whimsical book by Steven Kellogg. His account of the Pied Piper’s journey and magical flute was wonderful with playful illustrations that added to our enjoyment of the story.


Now it was time to make some beautiful music of our own. When my son saw the lengths of pipe I put on the table, I could see the wheels in his brain turning. He thought we should tap them together to make music. I explained that these were pipes. When he lined them up longest to shortest, he figured we were just making another pan pipe to blow into. All good conclusions … but wrong.

Before I revealed how to play these pipes, we ran a few pieces of painters tape around each and used different colored permanent markers to add stripes in different colors.


Then I told him to place letter stickers on each and told him the order of the letters. These letters were the music notes each pipe would play.


With our pipes colored and labeled, there was nothing left to do but play them. That’s when I told my son to pick a pipe and tap one end of it against the palm of his hand. WHOA! The sound plays a music note, with each pipe being tuned according to their lengths.


“Do  Re  Mi  Fa  Sol  La  Ti  Do” he played. To keep our pipes from rolling all over the table, I placed a kitchen towel underneath them. Then he tried his hand (literally) at “My Country Tis of Thee” and “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” using the notes included with the instructions I used.

This was a riot!! Our toddler had fun with them. My husband had fun with them (tapping them in syncopated rhythm against his thighs). And that night before reading with my son, I had fun with them too, using them to make sound effects to accompany an impromptu poem about a leaky faucet, light and heavy rain, etc. These are a blast!!

22 comments:

  1. That is fantastic, I am going to show this post to my husband, he would love to make some for our kids. Now I am going to check out your straw flute.

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  2. Really creative ideas here and good looking printables! Awesome blog!
    Erin

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  3. What a fun idea! My kids have really been into musical instruments lately, so this would be a great activity for us.

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  4. Thanks for this amazing tutorial!

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  5. What a great project! Any kid would have fun with these!

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  6. This looks like so much fun! I bet he loves them.

    Thank you for linking to Read.Explore.Learn.

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  7. Brilliant. I love it. What a fun idea and a great way to teach them to explore music. I found you at the "I Can Teach my Child" linky party. Great work. Jodi @ www.meaningfulmama.com

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  8. How interesting. I am sure everyone loved this kind of music instrument. Thanks for sharing with Afterschool!

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  9. Very cool! Love that they are color-coded as well as labeled.

    Thanks for sharing with Learning Laboratory at Mama Smiles =)

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  10. That looks like so much fun! Were the pipes actually in tune?

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    1. Yes, Play Eat Grow, they were! The more precise your measurements, the better tuned they are. It was a bit tricky using a hand saw to be so exact, but since only one of our pipes sounds sharp, I'd say my husband did a pretty good job!

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  11. Such an interesting project! thanks so much for putting the rest of us to shame with all the effort you put into educating your son, and for sharing on Craft Schooling Sunday!

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  12. Wow such a wonderful DIY Project! I will have to have my hubby make some for us, I have seen a few ideas around the internet using PVC pipe that will be our next DIY projects. Thanks for sharing! Have a wonderful week!!

    Nicole
    Mama Of Many Blessings

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  13. That is a brilliant project. Very clever and creative. A great demonstration of sound, music and technology!

    Thanks for sharing on Science Sparks

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  14. This is so cool! Thanks for sharing with my Super Link Party!

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  15. This. Is. Awesome. What a great way to tie in science, music, and creativity! I'm sharing this on my PreschoolPowolPackets page and pinning it! Thanks for sharing at Teach Me Tuesday!!

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  17. hi. what type of markers do you recommend? it seems some are called "fine tip" some are called "fine point" and there's a third type. thanks

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    1. Our Sharpie markers are labeled "fine point." Any permanent marker will do, though.

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  18. what type of letter stickers did you use? or recommend? thanks

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    1. Any flat scrapbooking sticker would be good. If they aren't sticky enough, just cover them with a ring of clear tape.

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  19. I like this article this is so cute kids will surely like this diy project using PVC pipes.
    .

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