Activity Guide for Groups

Many thanks to Craig Ramsell, founder of Whacky Music, and all the other folks at Whacky Music for allowing us to use this information.  This is a guide developed by Craig for using Boomwhackers® with groups of all sizes and all levels of musical ability.  Those of us here at Boomwhackersandmore.com hope you will find this guide helpful in your quest toward a more musical world!  On to the GUIDE!!

 

GETTIN’ WHACKY

A Mini-Handbook for Using

Musical Tubes

in Facilitated Group Events

by Craig Ramsell

A Work in Progress

Updated May, 2005

© 1998-2005, Whacky Music, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

www.boomwhackers.com

CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION TO BOOMWHACKERS® PERCUSSION TUBES

A BIT ABOUT THE TUBES

WORKING WITH GROUPS

MINI-CONCLUSION

BOOMWHACKERS® MUSICAL TUBES GLOSSARY

INTRODUCTION TO BOOMWHACKERS® PERCUSSION TUBES

If you’ve chosen to work with Boomwhackers Musical Tubes in working with groups for teambuilding,

community spirit, motivation, creativity or just some stress relief, you’re in for some fun! Adding a

melodic and harmonic component to rhythm-based events and activities has never been simpler. While

there are some details to pay attention to, the learning curve for playing one of these tubes is about one

second.

The tubes have become extremely popular in music education because they are easy to play, colorful

and inexpensive and also because of the kinesthetic experience of whacking them. They have also

become a favorite of group and drum circle facilitators for many of the same reasons, and the fact that

they are tuned adds a new dimension to the typical drum-shaker-bell rhythm experience. Also, you can

fit about a hundred tubes into a box that would hold a full-size djembe, so the portability and light weight

are also big pluses.

The musicality of the tubes and the ease of using rhythmic patterns to create an in-the-moment song can

very easily create a memorable experience of “instant music” for from several people up to thousands of

people. I’ve personally had the experience of facilitating over 1000 people, and the largest group I had

worked with prior to that was about 10. I was also present (and planned all the logistics for) an event

involving between 16 and 17 thousand kids at America West Arena in Phoenix. It’s pretty amazing when

you get that many people all doing anything at the same time, and it was an awesome experience to see

and hear that many Boomwhackers tubes in action at the same time.

I am happy to count among my teachers of the art of facilitating rhythm-based events many of the betterknown

drum circle facilitators around. Arthur Hull, who has done more to spread the movement of

community drum circles in this country than anyone, was one of the first people outside my “immediate

circle” that I showed prototypes of the tubes. It was an awkward moment where I had introduced myself

to him at the Remo booth at a NAMM show (the country’s largest trade show for musical instruments)

and told him I had something to show him but couldn’t do it right there at the booth. He insisted it was no

problem and equally insisted that I get my “tuned percussion tubes” out to show him. Of course I

complied and he immediately began jamming with a pair of them, one in each hand, on the floor of the

booth until one of them broke. He then held them up to me with that elfish smile of his and said, “Oops,

field tested by Arthur Hull.” Well, I knew they weren’t the right material, but it was what I started with to

prove the basic concept. So I didn’t feel bad about it and had plenty more with me to show other people.

Aside from admonishing me that I had to do something about the material used for the tubes, Arthur has

been a big fan of Boomwhackers tubes ever since. He regularly includes them in a segment of his drum

circle facilitation workshops (or “playshops” in his vernacular) to show others how one can use the tubes

for group rhythm events. Thanks, Arthur, for all that you do, for being a friend and a big fan of the tubes,

and for goading me to find the right material for the tubes until I did! Others I met early on from whom I

also learned and whom I would specifically like to thank for their encouragement and friendship are

Chalo Eduardo, Jorge Bermudez, Kalani, Jim Greiner and Paulo Mattioli. Thank you all and the many

others I’ve had the pleasure to interact with and learn from along the way.

A BIT ABOUT THE TUBES

If you want, just pick up a tube and start whackin’! But I’ve included a few tips and techniques to get the

most out of them. Most of this section covers material that is included in the instructional insert that is

included with every bagged set of tubes Whacky Music sells.

"TUNE" YOUR TUBES!

Please "tune" the tubes before you play them.

The tubes sound best when their cross-section is basically round. They may be oval or flattened out

when you purchase them or get that way through playing or storage.

For the best sound, simply "smoosh" the tube (apply pressure along its length) with your hands until it

becomes basically round again.

CARE AND FEEDING

The tubes are very durable and should last indefinitely with normal use.

We recommend:

Avoid whacking abrasive surfaces, which can scratch the tubes. Avoid whacking directly on the

tube's label.

Avoid use of excessive force. Exercise care with longer tubes to avoid bending them. Strike the

playing surface a few inches from the end of the tube.

Clean with a soft, damp cloth. Use a mild soap if necessary. Rinse with water and dry.

Store indoors away from sunlight.

PLAYING THE TUBES

Get the right note:
Make certain the hand holding the tube is completely on the tube and not

accidentally extending the effective length of the tube or blocking the column of air exiting the tube. Also,

avoid accidentally blocking of ends of tubes with clothing, etc.

Sweet spot: They have a "sweet spot" - for the best tone - a few inches from the end of the tube.

Experiment because the distance actually varies with the length of the tube.

Whack on something: Whack almost anything, like a table, a chair, the floor, your thigh or hand, the

side of your shoe . . . whatever! Different surfaces can produce different sounds ("timbres"), but always

the same musical pitch.

Please use common sense if you choose to whack your body.

Note: This really leads to a sort of “cardinal rule” for playing the tubes with groups of people.

No one should hit anyone else with a tube without that person’s permission. In certain

populations you may need to make it clear that anyone that does so will have their tube taken

away from them and lose their opportunity to play.

Whack with something:
Whack a Boomwhackers® tube in one hand with something in your other hand,

such as a pencil, a stick, a Boomwhacker Whacker™ Mallet, etc. Other household items that work well:

the rounded back of a spoon or fatter end of a butter knife.

Whack together: Whack two Boomwhackers tubes together and - boom! - you have a chord (or,

technically, a harmonic interval)!

 Be creative: Try two in one hand and whack away! (Tough for smaller hands.) Play them along with

other instruments. They're always in tune! Experiment! Find the sounds you like.

TIPS AND TRICKS FOR PLAYING

Dynamics (Volume): Raise and lower the volume of the sound by whacking with more or less force.

“Timbre” experiment: Whack a hard surface, such as a table or back of a wooden chair, and see how

the sound (timbre) changes when you cover it with a towel. Vary the number of layers of the towel.

“Full-body” technique: Hold the tube on the sides (so your fingers are out of the way) and whack the

floor so the entire length of the tube strikes the floor at the same time.

Pitch-bending: Partially block the end of the tube or extend its length with your hand to lower the

musical pitch.

Tremolo or sustain: The sound produced by the tubes has a very fast decay, so to get a sustained

note, the “tremolo” works best. The basic idea is to move the tube quickly between two surfaces that are

just a few inches apart, striking each with as equal a force as possible. This can be the opposite hand

held a few inches over the thigh, a hand and table top, between the sides of the shoes with feet relatively

close together, etc. Also works great for “rumbles” or “cutting loose.”

OCTAVATOR™ TUBE CAPS

These caps lower the tone by an octave when placed on the end of a tube. Play the tubes as usual or

hold them vertically and tap on the floor, etc., as a "stamping" tube.

Placed on the higher octave tubes, the caps create the same tones as the bass octave tubes. Placed on

the bass octave tubes, they go down another octave, making a 3-octave range possible.

It can work nicely for a facilitator to put one on the 2-foot-long Red C tube to get the lower octave sound

in driving the pulse. It’s easier to handle than the bass diatonic C tube, which is over 4 feet long.

WORKING WITH GROUPS

The following is some basic information about ways to use the tubes in facilitating group musical and

rhythmic experiences.

Of course, just plain ol' experimenting is how a lot of these ideas developed, so we always

encourage that. When we demo the tubes, some of our favorite things to show people came from

kids who simply had the opportunity to express their own creativity. The suggestions below do

not just address rhythmic ideas, because the tuned nature of the tubes also brings melody and

harmony instantly into reach.

DIATONIC VS. PENTATONIC SETS

Most group facilitators work with the C Major Pentatonic Scale Set rather than the C Major

Diatonic Scale Set. The diatonic scale is the familiar do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-ti-do that is found on the

white keys of the piano, starting on (middle) C. In this scale, as one familiar with music or the

layout of a piano knows, there are two places where there is only a semitone between notes (and

therefore no black key between the white ones). That is from E to F and from B to the higher

octave C’. The semitone is the most dissonant interval, and so by eliminating the F and the B,

the remaining intervals are more harmonious.

So the pentatonic set goes C – D – E – G – A – C’. Because the two most dissonant tubes have

been eliminated, this scale and set is most popular with rhythm-based event facilitators.

Basically any rhythmic patterns can made up with any tubes and it will sound fine.

With the diatonic set, by contrast, it is helpful to pay more attention to the intervals being created

in order to avoid the two tones in each pair of semitone intervals sounding at the same time. On

the other hand, the diatonic set makes it possible to play lots of real songs if that is a desired part

of your facilitation. Only a couple familiar songs can be played with the pentatonic set and one

only uses 4 notes (
Mary Had a Little Lamb) and the other actually requires a minor substitution of
an E note for one F note that is really in the song (Camptown Races).

Of course there is also the simple fact that the pentatonic set has 6 tubes, while the diatonic set

has 8, and so there are 2 fewer parts to hand out with the pentatonic set.

The official colors for the tubes, including chromatics (sharps/flats) look like this:

 

Note                  Color                    Alternate Color Name

C                         Red                      Red

C# / Db               Red/Orange        Vermilion

D                          Orange               Orange

D# / Eb                Yellow/Orange   Saffron

E                           Yellow                 Yellow

F                           Yellow/Green      Lime

F# / Gb                 Green                 Green

G                           Blue/Green         Teal

G# / Ab                 Blue                     Blue

A                            Blue/Violet          Indigo

A# / Bb                  Violet                  Purple

B                            Red/Violet          Magenta

As can be seen in this chart, the colors “Green” and “Purple” both refer to chromatics notes. As a

practical matter, however, when working with the pentatonic or diatonic sets, the G tube is most

commonly referred to as “green” rather than “teal” and the A tube as “purple” rather than indigo. So we’ll

use those names in the examples below, but put them in quotes as a reminder that there are chromatics

tubes that are really these colors.

1) “RUMBLES” AND “CHORD RUMBLES”

This particular technique from the drum circle facilitation world is very effective with Boomwhackers®

tubes. In Whacky Music’s Glossary for the tubes, we would call this Smackin’ or Cuttin’ Loose. Smackin’

is playing the tubes without any rhythmic purpose. The word “rumble” describes very well the sound of a

lot of drums being hit as quickly as possible without paying any attention to a group pulse. You can

“play” a lot with rumbles by bringing volume down and up for the whole group and also by similarly doing

that with alternating subsections of the group (one getting louder while the others remain soft and shifting

it around the group).

The technique applied to the tubes simply has everyone hitting their tube quickly and repeatedly for as

long as you hold the space to rumble. They may hit their other hand or the floor (if sitting on the floor) or

the chair in front of them as long as they don’t whack someone sitting in the chair. The beauty of

rumbling with the tubes is you can easily feature their melodic and harmonic nature. A simple technique

is to have everyone with a particular tube rumble that tube when you raise that tube in the air and then

stop when you lower it. Then you raise and lower them individually, raising the next as you lower the

prior. You can rumble up and/or down the scale (from long to short or short to long) or randomly.

Then the really cool part comes in. Raise a second tube while one is already raised to get a “chord

rumble.” Then lower that pair and raise another pair to highlight another harmonic interval. Those with a

musical background will know that some intervals will sound better than others, even with the pentatonic

set. So it would be best, but not essential, to avoid combinations that have a “whole step” between them

(Red C and Orange D, Orange D and Yellow E, and “Green” G and “Purple” A, in the pentatonic set).

After cycling through several pairs and mixing up the combinations some (e.g., if you combined Red C

and Yellow E the first time, maybe pair the “Green” G with the Red C the next time), then add a third

note. This starts to get harder to manage, so I usually just continue to “build the chord” by bringing up

additional tubes, doing my best to balance them in the horizontal pile I’m creating in my raised hand until

they are all playing again in a full rumble. Then I wave the whole batch wildly in the air, looking to see

that I have the group’s attention and then bring the whole batch down quickly to conclude the rumble.

2) CALL AND RESPONSE

Do simple "call and response" for different rhythmic phrases, or ostinatos. For a variation, have the

participants take turns doing the call. (A favorite is always "Shave and a hair cut, two bits!” but any

experienced rhythm facilitator can create lots of rhythmic patterns on the fly.) It can be helpful to start

simple and get more complex with the patterns over time. For a variation, have the participants take

turns doing the call. I’ve done this with some kid “helpers” at school assemblies. Sometimes the kid will

“freeze” and not know what to do. So I show them that they can make their call as simple as just one

note, and that’s typically been what they’ll then do. One time a kid did a call something like “
bop-bopboodoop- a-bop-bop-bop-a-boodoop-a-bop-a-bood-a-bop-bop-boodoop-boo” (you get the picture), so I

had to make up a new rule: Don’t do a call for the group that you can’t exactly repeat yourself!

3) BUILDING A SONG

Assign a different ostinato to different notes and build a song. Initiate the pattern for one of the tubes (or

2) until the participants with that note can play it consistently, then add the next note, and so on. There

are easier ways and harder ways to do this, so we’ll discuss them in more detail. The examples are all

4/4 time although an experienced rhythmist can easily apply these techniques to 6/8 as a nice alternative

or even more complex rhythms if the participants are more advanced. Note that all the examples in this

Building a Song section assume that the 1 or 2 illustrated measures will be continuously repeated as long

as desired or until instructions are given to vary the song.

One of the keys to making this “instant music” more interesting is not to get too much going on with all the

tubes, but to keep at least several of the patterns simple enough that there is musical space for the other

patterns to be heard.

PAIRS OF TUBES

A quick and easy way to distribute the ostinatos is to demonstrate the patterns for two notes at a time as

a simple call and response of one note to the other, where the response need not be an exact repetition

of the call. Then move on to the next pair, and perhaps lengthen the phrase of each pair (say 2 beats

instead of 1). Repeat for the third pair with yet a longer phrase (say a full measure of 4 beats).

Examples appear on the next page.

This way one can hold a note in each hand, and the assigned rhythmic patterns are covered in three

steps, instead of 6. This works particularly well for the pentatonic version as all the note combinations

will sound fine, and one needn't be concerned about how the subsequent pair patterns interact with the

previous ones. 

Another advantage to handing out the parts in pairs is that the pulse is completely established by the first

two parts (i.e., one of the notes is playing on each downbeat). Contrast this to the exercise in Example

2A where the Red C (in the first measure) is playing only on the first beat. What is establishing the pulse

for the remaining beats? One could count it out, or assign the Red C and the Short Red C’ at the same

time and again have a note on each beat (again assuming the first measure). As you’ll see when we get

to that section, I actually recommend starting with two tubes even when not generally doing pairs in order

to establish the pulse.

By the way, when these kinds of exercises are used in large groups just for the effect of quickly creating

music by repeating patterns, most facilitators or group leaders just call out the colors (red, orange, yellow,

green, purple, short red) for the six pentatonic notes above. In fact, people tend to get it much more

quickly than working with the notes, but in an educational environment surely some emphasis on the

notes is merited.

Following are some examples to illustrate. We mix up the pairs a little so one can get the idea of working

with different pairs and it is assumed that the patterns are given out from top pair to bottom pair (to get

the lengthening “conversations” between pairs, switching each beat for the first pair, every 2 beats for the

second pair, and every 4 for the third pair). In these examples, the “&” is used as it commonly is to

represent the upbeat, and so each column (starting with “1”) represents an eighth note.

Example 1A: Pairs; lengthening conversations; identical call and response per pair

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Measure

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

 

Note

Color

1

&

2

&

3

&

4

&

 

1

&

2

&

3

&

4

&

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

E

Yellow

 

 

X

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

X

 

C

Red

X

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A

"Purple"

X

X

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

X

X

 

 

 

 

 

D

Orange

 

 

 

 

X

X

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

X

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

C'

Short Red

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

X

X

X

X

 

X

 

G

"Green"

X

X

X

X

X

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This simple version is the easiest to “hand out” and easiest for the participants to get. However, in our

experience allowing the response part to vary from the call, as in the next example, definitely adds to a

more musical experience for the song.

Example 1B:   Pairs; lengthening conversations; response differs from call

 

Measure

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note

Color

1

&

2

&

3

&

4

&

 

1

&

2

&

3

&

4

&

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

E

Yellow

 

 

X

X

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

X

X

 

 

X

 

C

Red

X

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

G

"Green"

X

X

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

X

X

 

 

 

 

 

D

Orange

 

 

 

 

X

 

X

X

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

X

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

C'

Short Red

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

X

X

X

X

 

 

A

"Purple"

X

 

X

X

X

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Again, this simple slight modification of the response pattern from the call adds more musical interest.

Next is an example where the calls and responses for the first 2 pair vary from the first measure to the

second.

 

Example 1C:     Pairs; lengthening conversations; calls and responses for 1st 2 pair may vary by measure

 

Measure

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note

Color

1

&

2

&

3

&

4

&

 

1

&

2

&

3

&

4

&

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

G

"Green"

 

 

X

X

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

X

X

 

 

X

X

C

Red

X

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

X

X

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A

"Purple"

X

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

X

X

 

 

 

 

 

D

Orange

 

 

 

 

X

 

X

X

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

C'

Short Red

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

X

 

X

X

 

X

X

E

Yellow

X

X

X

X

X

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This additional varying of the patterns from measure to measure (for the first 2 pair) will create a little

more interest in the overall “song,” but is also harder to keep straight when passing out the patterns. One

approach would be to do one measure until everyone “gets it,” and then do the same for the next

measure. The final step is to put it all together. In most group rhythmic experiences, however, it simply

isn’t necessary to go to this level of complexity. But if you feel you can keep it straight, then you should

be able to work with the group until they get it and the additional variation in the song may be worth it.

Don’t think too hard about all of this. It comes together pretty quickly, and once you get the general idea,

you can pretty much walk into any situation and “wing it” on the parts with very acceptable results. The

two main aspects are to pick your pairs and then distribute the relatively simple patterns in 3 steps of

lengthening conversations between the pairs. When you get comfortable with that, you can explore

varying the patterns for the first 2 pair from one measure to the next. (The third pair already covers 2

measures in their conversation, so they wouldn’t vary unless you stretched it all out to 4 measures – a

more daunting task!)

ONE TUBE AT A TIME

This technique will take a little longer to hand out the parts, because they are being given one at a time,

with the recommended exception of the first 2 parts. The idea is to design a pattern for each of the 6

parts that together create an interesting sound, and, if you know enough about music, create more

harmonious intervals sounded by the notes that are playing at any one instant in the song.

In the easier version, as in Example 2A on the next page, this can all be accomplished in one measure.

The reason to pass out 2 parts in the beginning is to have at least one tube sounding on each of the 4

beats of the measure. So in this example, the Red C sounds on 1 and the Short Red C’ sounds on 2, 3

and 4. So they could be started together and then the other parts added one tube at a time. Also, in this

example the Orange D also sounds on 2, 3 and 4 (as well as the upbeat between 3 and 4), so

alternatively the Red C and Orange D could be used to start the song.

Of course, one tube could sound on all 4 beats, but it makes for a more interesting song if you avoid

doing that.

Example 2A:   One tube at a time; planned pattern; 1 measure

 

Measure

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note

Color

1

&

2

&

3

&

4

&

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

C

Red

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

D

Orange

 

 

X

 

X

X

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

E

Yellow

X

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

G

"Green"

X

 

X

X

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A

"Purple"

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

X

C'

Short Red

 

 

X

 

X

 

X

 

Then, similar to the pair examples, the pattern for some or all of the tubes could vary from the first

measure to the second. Here’s an example where the first measure has some similarity to Example 2A

but things change even more in the second measure.

 

Example 2B:   One tube at a time; planned pattern; 2 measures

 

 

Measure

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note

Color

1

&

2

&

3

&

4

&

 

1

&

2

&

3

&

4

&

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

C

Red

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

X

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

D

Orange

 

 

X

 

X

 

X

X

 

 

X

X

 

X

 

X

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

E

Yellow

X

X

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

G

"Green"

X

 

X

X

X

 

 

 

 

X

 

X

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A

"Purple"

 

X

 

 

 

 

X

X

 

 

X

 

X

 

X

X

 

C'

Short Red

 

 

X

 

X

 

X

 

 

X

X

 

 

X

 

 

 

You may note that the Short Red C’ does hit on beats 2, 3 and 4 in the first measure, as in Example 2A,

but does not in the second measure. This already makes this 2-measure grouping of patterns more

difficult to hand out with any particular beginning pair. So if you happen to have someone already

holding the pulse with a drum of some sort (which is always nice to have), you can easily get these

patterns going one tube at a time. Otherwise, you may want to structure it to have an easier combination

of patterns for the pair of tubes that you use first to establish the pulse.

This example also uses a lot of syncopation, where parts come in on or happen only on an upbeat.

If you want to get even more rhythmically sophisticated, you can look at working sixteenth notes into the

mix. They are often counted as 1-e-&-a-2-e-&-a, etc. Example 2C shows a variation on 2A in which

some of the patterns that were working in eighths are now switched to sixteenths. Particularly in a onemeasure

pattern, this can add some musical interest without complicating things too much.

Example 2C:  One tube at a time; planned pattern; 1 measure; sixteenth notes

 

Measure

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note

Color

1

e

&

a

2

e

&

a

3

e

&

a

4

e

&

a

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

C

Red

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

D

Orange

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

X

 

X

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

E

Yellow

X

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

G

"Green"

X

 

 

 

X

 

X

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A

"Purple"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

C'

Short Red

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

You’ll note that we used “open circles” to highlight the 2 places that we switched to using sixteenth notes.

Of course, if you pick up the tempo too much, it won’t be practical to get the quick double hits needed to

keep the pattern in sixteenths.

I once was brought to a conference to work with children of the parents that were attending. It was sort

of an advanced day care with different activities planned and adults that were with the kids all day.

Unbeknownst to the kids and their supervisors, the conference organizers asked me to have them

perform for the whole group after they had worked up a song. Example 2A is in fact the song that we

worked up along with some of the other activities that are presented here. When they had it down, I

asked if they would like to perform for their parents and the rest of the conference attendees. Most were

excited to do so (except the few teenagers who decided it just wasn’t “cool”).

They got up on stage, including some of the adult supervisors. I had a drummer backing me up for the

pulse and then built the rhythm back up one tube at a time by clapping the rhythm to each group of tubes.

When we got the sixth and last tube going so everyone was playing, the audience really got into it and

was clapping along in rhythm. The adult supervisors playing on stage were having as much or more fun

than the kids, and I know it had to be a very memorable experience especially for the kids to get up and

perform so spontaneously in front of about 900 people.

4) ONCE THE SONG IS GOING

When a song is created using the techniques in #3, there are a variety of things that can be done to

create more interest than occurs by simply repeating the same patterns for a long stretch of time. One

aspect is covered in #5, where the participants create their own changes at a particular point. Here we

discuss other things that can be done, either before or after they begin to make the song their own.

Without carving out any segments of the participant population to work with separately, the two easiest

“global” parameters to work with are dynamics (volume) and tempo. It works well to play with volume

first, taking it softer for a while and slowly (or quickly) bringing it back up again. Several ups and downs

are possible before it starts to “get old.” Be conscious of not encouraging them to spend a lot of time in a

high-volume mode if they are hitting their opposite hands or other body parts, because the impact will

definitely add up more quickly.

Then using your “lead tube” or other audible percussion instrument, begin to slowly build the tempo, or

speed of the pulse. One of my favorite things to do is to close by speeding up past the point where

anyone can possibly keep any pattern going and the natural result is the now familiar rumble. You can

experiment with slowing them down if you like, but good luck! It’s much easier to speed this train up than

slow it down!

Other techniques involve carving out half the group or some large segment and having them do various

other activities while the rest keep the existing groove going. People familiar with some of the drum circle

techniques that Arthur Hull has popularized will think of such things for this carved-out group as call and

response, rumbles or rumble waves (varying volume). Let this group “make up their own” when they

come back in, possibly instructing them to listen to what the song needs and to do that.

5) "MAKE UP YOUR OWN"

Of course, it's always great to allow the participants to be creative by encouraging them to experiment.

For example, once a pattern is established, suggest that they add or subtract a note to begin to make

their own song, or to simply "make up their own".

With a smaller group, particularly if they have already had some experience with the tubes, try

establishing the pulse and let the kids make up their own song entirely. Or, just as in the Call and

Response above, allow a participant to create the pattern for each particular note and have the others

with that note follow along.

6) MOVEMENT

This may be obvious, but get the participants moving. They can walk in place with the count to help them

establish the rhythm. They can hit the tubes high and hit the tubes low. They can turn in place, one

direction and then the other. If the structure of the room permits, lead from the center as they form a

circle at a comfortable distance. They could even move in a circle with the song or snake a “conga line”

through the room.

7) MINI-CONCERT

After the participants have had a little experience with the tubes, break them into smaller groups to create

their own songs (however they want to do that!) and save some time at the end for the smaller groups to

perform what they created for the rest of the group.

The first time I brought prototypes of the tubes to a school music class, it was a 4
th grade class and this is

exactly what the teacher did after I gave a quick demonstration of the tubes. They scattered to different

parts of the room in groups of 4 or 5 to explore, create and work together to come up with something to

present to the rest of the class. It was really great to see what the kids came up with when they had a

chance to exercise their own creativity, and I’m sure the lesson in teamwork was also beneficial.

8) SIMPLE SONGS

Play simple familiar songs as you would with a bell choir, each tube playing when its note appears in the

song in written music.
This is best done with the diatonic set.

9) GAMES AND ACTIVITIES

There are many rhythm games that people have made up over the years that can be used when working

with the tubes. It’s an opportunity to exercise your own creativity to make up some of your own. Whacky

Music also produces a number of books of games and activities for the tubes, and more are on the way.

Totally Tubular books are designed for older kids and adults, while the Tube Time books are more for

preschool and early elementary ages.

10) BOOMALONG™ COLOR SIGNALS

Whacky Music will soon be posting these Color Signals to its website, www.boomwhackers.com, for

downloading and printing. (EDITOR NOTE--These are now posted on the website!)

The Signals come in single colors and 2 and 3 colored “swatches” for certain

combinations of “open fifth” harmonic intervals and triads (or three-note chords). Once printed they can

be used in facilitating groups by raising and lowering them or pointing to them, etc., to signify that certain

tubes or groups of tubes should play.

MINI-CONCLUSION

Obviously we're just scratching the surface here, but this is enough material to get you started and spur

some ideas of your own. Please feel free to share them with us or just let us know how it's going. Have

fun!

Oh, and just for fun we’ve included the Boomwhackers
® Glossary of Terms on the reverse. No doubt

you’ll glean a few more facilitation tips from just a casual glance through the Glossary!

Final Words (for now):

Don’t think too much or try too hard. Have fun and your group will too!

About Craig Ramsell

Craig Ramsell is the inventor of the Boomwhackers Tuned Percussion Tubes

and President of Whacky Music, Inc., which produces and distributes the

musical tubes and related products. Having played the classical guitar for most

of his adult life, Craig has been “bit by the percussion bug” ever since inventing

the award-winning musical tubes. His invention has created a fun and simple

way to make music and has revolutionized learning music in schools around the

world. It also adds an entirely new dimension to the drum circle experience.

Craig has appeared on several TV programs and has been written up in

Newsweek magazine. He has created memorable musical experiences with Boomwhackers tubes for

numerous groups, ranging from a few to over a thousand people, including school assemblies,

workshops, fund-raising events and an MIT alumni reunion. He also produced, composed songs for and

performed on the CD Whack Tracks: The Boomwhackers® Sessions.

BOOMWHACKERS® MUSICAL TUBES

GLOSSARY

Okay, so we made most of these up. But you can experience them! A quick read through the Glossary

may awaken your imagination for having even more fun with the Tubes.

Boppin': Playing the Tubes with mallets, etc. (Boom O Phone - B O P, bop!)

Carvin' the Air: Executing really cool moves with your Tubes while Whackin'.

Cruisin': Experiencing the Groove while Boppin' or Whackin'.

Cuttin' Loose: 1. Doing your own thing. 2. Lots of people doing their own thing, mostly Smackin'

(in other words, not keeping a beat).

Duelin': Whackin' with one or more other people and producing rhythmic sounds by striking

each others' Tubes.

Flashin': Creating your own conspicuous, advanced rhythmic pattern on top of a group

Groove.

Groove: The magical space you enter when you're Boppin' or Whackin' by yourself or with

others and experience the flow of the rhythm you're making.

Howlin': Producing any kind of vocal sounds while Whackin'.

Jammin': Boppin' or Whackin' with one or more other people playing the Tubes (or other

instruments).

Shakin': Simultaneous Whackin' and dancing of any form.

Smackin': Playing your Tubes without any rhythmic purpose. (See Whackin'.)

Tube Jam: The act of Jammin' with only or mostly the Tubes.

Tubes: What everyone automatically calls the Boomwhackers Musical Tubes (because that's

what they are!).

Tubular: Of the nature of the Tubes (in other words, very cool!).

Wailin': Simultaneous Howlin' and Shakin'.

Whackin': Playing the Tubes and keeping a beat! (See Smackin'.)

Whacky Music, Inc. 928-282-3860

2085 Mountain Road whacky@boomwhackers.com

Sedona, AZ 86336 www.boomwhackers.com

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