Boom Pipes

(Musical Instruments Created From Imagination)

Imagination! Are children of this generation losing the ability to imagine and create? Children are spending so many hours viewing TV and playing computer games, that they do not have the time or the inclination to create their own fun! Attention spans are shorter--maybe the length of programming between commercials.

I have spent a lot of time this year teaching my students how to use their imagination. What? Imagination has to be taught now? It seems strange to me that many children cannot even picture stories in their minds when they read. Creative adults have made magnificent picture books, movies extravaganzas, complicated computer games, catchy music; and the younger generation has delighted in the wonders of it all. Many parents, however, have become complacent and let the media raise their children.

To make matters worse, the schools have big financial worries, so they are cutting out music and the arts--the subjects that help develop creativity and imagination. Where will we find our future inventors and musicians? Maybe we as children's entertainers can help fill this void as we use audience participation and choose volunteers from our audiences to create our own magic.

Because of my frustration over lack of school funds to buy xylophones for the children to play their own accompaniment to songs, I made some musical instruments from drain pipes and caps. I was able to make seventeen bass notes, starting with the lowest A on the piano, for about $50. You would not need to make this many, however. I have included the length of the higher notes in case you may need them, but the lowest octave resonates best. You may find that you will only have to make three or four notes to have enough for the children to repeat the same notes for accompaniment for the songs you wish to sing together.



  1. Before cutting, find the total length of the tubes you wish to cut, and add them up so that you will minimize waste in each 10 foot pipe.
  2. From the 4-inch pipe cut:
  3. From the 3-inch pipe cut:

    If a pipe is slightly flat in pitch, cut only 1/4 inch off at a time. All octaves should definitely agree in pitch; for example, all C's should agree.

  4. Place a cap on the end of each pipe.
  5. To play a pipe, place both hands around the pipe and bounce the capped end upon a carpet piece. The low tones resonate beautifully.

I hope this article has inspired you to jump-start your children's imagination. If you discover any new ideas for constructing some exotic new musical instruments, I would love to hear from you.

Copyright © 1993 by Carol A. Greene