Have you been wondering how to use Boomwhackers, or pitched tubes, in your music lessons? In this blog post, I'm detailing five activities for Boomwhackers, which are sure to be a hit with your students!
What are Boomwhackers?
Before we begin, let's discuss what Boomwhackers are. Boomwhackers are colorful percussion tubes that each play a different note. Here are a picture of mine; I'm using a plastic grocery bag holder from IKEA to store them:
Here is a picture of my friend Sarah King's Boomwhacker wall; she's using velcro to keep the Boomwhackers on the wall.
Teaching pitch and size
Since Boomwhackers are different lengths and pitches, having students play them one at a time can be a great way to showcase how length affects pitch. When teaching science of sound, I randomly hand eight students a Boomwhacker, then have them arrange themselves in order from low to high. Then I have them play up the scale and down the scale! Because of the different colors and lengths, this can be a quick and easy way for students to understand the relationship between pitch and length.
Play along videos
There are some wonderful play along videos for Boomwhackers, which can work well for having students immediately get Boomwhackers in their hands and play! Musication has many fun play alongs; here is an adorable one for “Ghostbusters,” which would be great this time of the year!
Playing songs from music class
You can also use Boomwhackers to play along with songs that you are currently learning in music class. Here is the song “Chumbara,” which is great for Boomwhackers, as it uses the major scale:
Students sit in a circle and do these movements:
Beats 1-2: Pat x 2
Beats 3-4: Pat own left knee with right hand and neighbor’s knee with left hand x 2
Beats 5-6: Pat x 2
Beats 7-8: Pat own right knee with left hand and neighbor’s knee with right hand x 2
Beats 9-10: Pat x 2
Beats 11-12: Pat own left knee with right hand and neighbor’s knee with left hand x 2
Beats 13-14: Pat, cross
And here is an image of “Chumbara” that you could use for Boomwhackers, with students simply playing their color; the underlined red is for the high C:
I also suggest checking out Amy Abbott's “Colorful Melodies” set ; it is perfect for Boomwhackers, Specdrums, and more!
Playing rhythm patterns
You can also use Boomwhackers in your music class to play rhythm patterns. I find this works really well in centers; I have students choose a Boomwhacker, play a rhythm pattern, then switch to another Boomwhacker and another pattern! Students could also play two Boomwhackers, switching back and forth between the two as they play. Here is a picture of how I set this up for centers:
If you are looking for a fun and engaging activity for Boomwhackers, check out this Boomwhacker escape room I just created. Students work in small groups to solve puzzles, and to play Boomwhackers!
If you are looking for some very fun Boomwhacker videos, make sure to check out the Chromatic Music Teacher on TikTok and Instagram and check out my podcast with her here!
Boomwhackers can be used in many different ways–to teach your students about pitch, size, and how to read music notation. They can also be used to play along with songs that your students know, or to create original pieces of music. If you're looking for a new way to introduce music and pitch to your students, or are looking for new ways to use your Boomwhackers in the classroom, these five activities are sure to be a hit with your students! Happy teaching!