Ideas For Boomwhackers®

Boomwhacker® Questions & Answers

Submitted by Priscilla Whalen, Ohio

Idea posted 2002-07-19

Question: Will a student only be whacking one Boomwhacker®, that is, one tube per student opposed to handbells where they have two bells each?

Answer: If you have enough, each student could have two. Usually, one is enough.

Question: Is floor whacking the better choice over arms, legs, etc.? And if so, then should I prepare to move chairs and have students sit on the floor (I know the Fun With Boomwhackers®! book has circle formations on the floor)?

Answer: Experiment. Whack around and find what you like best. I decided to have them hold the tubes vertically and whack the floor with the end that has the cap. I have carpet in my room. Whacking each other or self sounds like a bad idea to me.

Question: In the regular diatonic set offered in catalogs, is the C note (lowest in the set) middle C? If so, then the bass set extends down to the lower octave C, right? OK, what are the Octavator™ Tube Caps for, and do I need these if I have the bass set?

Answer: Yes, I think what you are asking the answer is middle C. The caps cause the note to be an octave lower. I put caps on all of them because I think it improves the tone.

Question: How do you facilitate the use of the Boomwhackers® with larger classes, say 24? Does everyone have a tube to play (doubling up notes and having to use multiple sets)? If not, what are the non-whacking kids doing?

Answer: Sometimes the non-whackers play other instruments; drums, bells, xylo., recorder, etc., etc., etc. I also have two or more on the same note in big classes.

Question: Lastly, if the kids are sitting on the floor (say in a circle), where is their music? On the floor in front of them (and they just avoid whacking the music when it's their turn to whack the floor)?

Answer: I have the kids standing in a curved row in order of the scale. I use the music stands. The younger kids do not use music. I teach them by rote.

Don't get too cerebral about methodology. Establish some clear rules from the beginning just like for any other instrument use. For example: Do not use the Boomwhackers® for crutches. (Best not to call them whackers, especially for upper grades.) Do not use the booms as swords or guns. Do not reach out and touch someone with a boom. Do not spit in the booms or place your lips, nose, ear in the end of the boom.

I've found that you get a better sound if you hold the thing loosely and let it bounce back up from the floor. It's sorta like the difference between holding the mallet tight and stiff, and holding it loosely to let it bounce back. This of course takes a little practice, so allow some time for general chaos, however long your nerve is, and let them get it out of their systems before you actually try to direct them.