Boomwhackers in Music ClassBy Teachers.Net Community
I used mine a lot. I had 8 sets of diatonic and I think 2 sets of chromatic.
I think the LEAST effective way to use them is how they are generally marketed – - sort of like a set of handbells trying to play melodies. That’s pretty difficult for most general groups of kids to pull off. In general, I almost NEVER used my boomwhackers for melodic playing. Mostly, I used them to reinforce rhythmic skills within a harmonic context instead of just boring rhythm sticks.
Here are some ways to use them that I found pretty effective.
Sequenced roughly from less to more difficult.
FOLLOW THE CONDUCTOR – START AND STOP.
Pass out a chord. C works well, because of the double
availability of the high and low C tubes. So, with 8 sets I
would have 32 available tubes – always enough for every one
in my classes to hold one at the time. I would hit the
boomwhacker as fast as I could against my hand. Kids were to
follow. I’d suddenly stop and take my hand and the
boomwhacker far apart. They were to follow and stop playing
as soon as they could. Make it a game. Don’t be the one
caught still playing. Vary how long you play for, sometimes
stop within a split second of starting, sometimes playing a
long time. The kids LOVED this – and I really did find it
useful for establishing the do it together, focus on what we
are doing, do it “my way” kind of boundary setting that
usually needs to be done at the beginning of the year with
FOLLOW THE STEADY BEAT
Once they get good at that, go to steady beat playing.
Again, following you and starting and stopping. Following
you changing tempos.
RHYTHMIC ECHO PATTERNS
Instead of clapping or using rhythm sticks play the rhythm
patterns on boomwhackers. Pass out a C chord to them and you
use a B tube as the leader. Gives a nice little melodic
cadence feel to what is heard as you echo the patterns.
SIMPLE CALL RESPONSE SONGS
John the Rabbit – oh yes. Every time the “oh yes” comes in,
some play the E boomwhacker tubes.
ECHO RHYTHMS BASED ON WORDS
Use recordings or echo songs such as Sally Albrecht’s I Sing,
You Sing series. Instead of echoing the words, echo back the
rhythm of the words. I actually most often used my sound
shape drum for this one I guess, but with the right song
could probably echo back the tonic.
RHYTHMIC READING PATTERNS
Can work at any grade level to reinforce whatever rhythms you
are working on. You can pass out two chords…C major and D
minor. Have the D group read it first, and the C group read
it second. Gives a cadence in a dorian feel.
PASS THE RHYTHM PATTERN – SCALES
Pass out a major scale, with several kids on each tube.
Stand in a circle, with kids with the same note grouped
together. You play a rhythm, then they pass it around the
circle. C plays it, next measure D picks it up, the E, etc.
PASS THE RHYTHM PATTERN – CHORDS
Can also pass the rhythm with a chord root progression. Have
the kids stand in lines along the four walls. Pass Big C and
E to one wall, A and little C to the other wall, F and A to
the third wall, and G and B to the fourth wall. Be sure to
stack good rhythm readers into the first CE group. You flash
a rhythm, they play it passing it to the four walls. The
first group plays “DONE” (one single loud note together) to
finish it off. You get the effect of I vi IV V I
Use the tubes similar to how you would use Orff instruments
to play a 1-5 Bordun on the steady beat with a pentatonic
song. One example: the tune of “Pick a Bale of Cotton” with
the following words as an opening tune, with steady beat
A SECTIONS – with boomwhackers on beat “We’re gonna sit down,
settle down, listen to the music. Sit down settle down and
follow me. We’re gonna sit down, settle down, listen to the
music. Sit down, settle down and follow me.”
B SECTION – no boomwhackers
ME: Oh 2nd grade
THEM: Listen to the music
ME: Oh 2nd grade
THEM: Follow you
Did the whole thing in ABA form. Opportunities for soloists
and assessing singing voices for them to take turns doing the
solos in the B section later in the year.
PLAYING CHORD PROGRESSIONS
Find simple I,V songs or I, IV, V songs. Build the chords.
Each kid needs to know which chords their tube is in. Play
along to the chord progression. First, practice accompanying
a CD versions. Then word to accompany their own singing in
Music K8 “Whomp Out Loud” was a song I used and the kids
loved that reinforced I, IV, V chords. – merrimom
I use my boomwhackers in a rhythm facilitation way . . . Some
Orff principles, and some drum circle facilitation principles.
Once my kids get warmed up with simple ideas (rumble, cut,
dynamics, call/response), then we move on to learn pop songs.
I offer free boomwhacker arrangements on my website Rhythm For Good. Just click on kids, and you will find Black Eyed Peas (really good one because of the ostinato!), Lady Gaga, house music. I’m adding to the repertoire every couple of months. – Best, Kat Fulton
I’m still trying to find effective ways to use them too. But most of the time, I use them for basic “bourdun” types of accompaniments — in place of xylophones — when I want every kid on them at one time. I don’t use them as melodic instruments because honestly, I can’t stand the “pop” sound — but as accompaniments, or rhythmic practice, they are a great tool!
One book that I’ve found that really helps is Chris Judah-Lauder’s book called Fun with Boomwhackers! . You can just go to www.westmusic.com and search under her name and find all of her books. I went to a workshop with her where she used some of the principles from her boomwhacker book — it was awesome! Good luck! – kitmusic/OK
I went to a class on this topic a few years ago and got some great
For younger ones stick to pentatonic songs and hand out pentatonic
boomwhackers then keep the beat with them. You can also have a
pentatonic song you make up and sing for each color to play. I do this
with Old MacDonald (even though it isn’t pentatonic it sounds ok)
where he had a farm with some “whackers” with a “red red here” then at
the end after all the colors we do rainbow.
If you get a lot of colors for expo markers, draw circles on the board
and have them play when you point to their color. I’ve made it into a
Eventually I write pieces on the board using just the colors (no
written notes) and they play when it is their turn. With older kids I
have a powerpoint with 8 colored circles on a slide, they play the 8
notes over and over until I change the slide. Some slide have rests.
I also use them for chord borduns. I stack the circles on top of each
other to look more chord like. – Garland/GA