It’s Tambourine Time

it's tambourine timeThe credit for today’s simple project goes to my 6-year old daughter! She told me she wanted to make a tambourine, scrounged through art supply central at home, and came up with this a few minutes later.

4 things I like about this project: 1) Unlike the paper plate versions, this tambourine uses a plastic oatmeal container lid that won’t buckle or tear; 2) The surface of the oatmeal container lid makes the instrument sound more drum-like (and thus more like a real tambourine); 3) The bells are threaded through pipe cleaner pieces and attached with tape. This made it possible for her to make the project with zero adult assistance; Finally, 4) My kid’s a crafter! SUCH a proud mom right now.

Inspired by her project, I developed a slightly fancier version. It is a little more work, but the threading part of the project really helps build those fine motor skills.

finished tambourineYou’ll need:

  • 1 large oatmeal or yogurt container lid
  • 3 jingle bells
  • 3 pieces of pipe cleaner
  • 2 ribbons
  • Hole punch
  • Tape

First, punch 7 holes around the perimeter of an oatmeal or yogurt lid. Thread the ribbon through the holes, ending with all the ribbons meeting in the bottom-most hole.

tambourine ribbonsQuick hint for threading floppy ribbon through holes…create a “needle” using masking tape. When you’re finished, just unwrap the making tape, or cut it off the ribbon entirely.

masking tape needleThread a jingle bell onto a piece of pipe cleaner, fold it into a U, and and insert both ends into a pair of holes. Unfold the ends of the pipe cleaner and secure them to the back of the lid with tape. Repeat these steps with the remaining 2 bells.

threading the bellYour tambourine is finished!

finished tambourine

Looking for some musical accompaniment? How about this rockin’ Medieval lute project?

Pan Pipes

groverGet your Grover on with these simple pan pipe necklaces! I designed them for a large-scale Lightning Thief event (you can read more about the event, and our awesome Mythomagic deck here). The pipes were part of a “Pan Pipes & Pythagoras” table hosted by Music Together Princeton Lab School. Since we needed to create several hundred sets of pan pipes (event attendance was around 5,000) I needed something inexpensive that would give kids a little taste of tone and pitch.

I considered PVC pipe, empty marker tubes, empty pen tubes…but they were either too expensive, impractical, too hard to cut, couldn’t produce a satisfactory sound, or required way too much prep time. Happily, the solution came when I stopped by Fruity Yogurt, a local frozen yogurt place. In addition to soft serve, Fruity Yogurt does bubble tea, which naturally comes with a bubble tea straw.

strawsBubble tea straws are thicker than your average drinking straw. I tested a few and they were perfect! Not to mention inexpensive and they come in jolly colors!

You’ll need:

  • At least 4 bubble tea straws
  • A small craft stick (for a 4-straw set of pipes, you’ll need a 3″ craft stick)
  • A 28-29″ piece of yarn
  • A ruler
  • A Sharpie permanent marker
  • Scissors and tape for construction

Start by folding the bottom of each straw up and taping it very tightly (some bubble tea straws have pointed bottoms – you can trim the point off if you’d like).

taped straw Place the folded straw next to a ruler, and use a permanent marker to mark the desired¬† length of the straw. I cut my straws in 0.5″ increments. So the first straw was 5″, the second straw was 4.5″, the third straw was 4″, and the fourth straw was 3.5″. If you’re doing this at a program or event and don’t want to fiddle with a bunch of rulers, you can use this straw measurement template.

marked straw I did some experimenting with how long or how short a straw can be before it starts losing its tone. Based on my experiments, I wouldn’t go any longer than 7.5″ and no shorter than 2.5″. Beyond those lengths, the straws seem to lose their ability to hold a note.

Next, knot the yarn on both ends of the craft stick, and reinforce the knots with tape.

attached yarnLine all your straws next to each other in ascending order. Make sure the top (i.e. the open ends) of the straws are even with one another. Secure them with a piece of tape.

taped pipesThen flip the pipes over and tape the craft stick on the other side! Done!

finished pipes