Exploring sound and waves doesn’t have to be all about oscilloscopes and diagrams of the ear, it’s a great opportunity for some arts-physics crossover. Here are some resources that I love.
The Thumpaphone (or Bataphone) is a musical instrument made from waste tubes (the kind that carpet and fabric comes wrapped around). It’s easy to make one, just cut the tubes into different lengths to tune the instrument and THUMP the ends of the tubes with a foam paddle or an old pair of flip-flops to play notes.
Call ahead to your local carpet shop/warehouse and ask them if they’ve got any tubes you can have. Top tip, when collecting, take a rip saw as the tubes are typically 3m long and won’t fit in your car.
I made lots of Thumpaphones when I was working for the Orinoco Scrapstore as chief ‘Scrapmaster.’ They were always a success.
Scrap music machines
This was a project that I ran at Orinoco – the Oxfordshire Scrapstore, working with play rangers providing free play and facilitated play opportunities in the community. Oliver Wright, a student volunteer, created a range of Music Machines with the children of Oxford. His designs are illustrated in his beautiful Music Machines Sketchbook. There are some super ideas here and it’s well worth a browse through.
Meanwhile… on YouTube
Here are some favourites from the many, many videos on YouTube:
- Make a straw trombone – really good instructions and nicely references soundwave science.
- DIY musical instruments for kids – a selection of simple instruments.
- The vegetable orchestra – because playing with your food (literally) should be encouraged.
- Making a carrot clarinet
If you have any favourites that you’d like to share, please stick them in the comments and I’ll add them.