Posted by: Michelle Mitton | August 27, 2008

Making Music with a Homemade Chime

Making Music with a Homemade ChimeYears ago I used to do a bit of music instruction. Not so much anymore–I’ve turned my kids over to the professionals–but when the children were small we enjoyed playing musical games.

Making a set of musical chimes is easy enough, the biggest obstacle is having access to a saw that can cut the pipe into the right lengths. Luckily I have a wonderful grandfather who has a shop full of equipment and he helped me to cut my pipe then drill little holes in the tops so I could string them up.

Here’s what to do:

1. Buy a 12-foot piece of 9/16 inch diameter pipe (that’s the measurement of the opening, the diameter of the pipe itself is 11/16 inch) and cut it into the following lengths:

for E – 7 5/8 inches
for D – 8 1/8 inches
for C – 8 3/4 inches
for B – 9 inches
for B flat – 9 5/16 inches
for A – 9 9/16 inches
for G – 10 1/16 inches
for F sharp – 10 5/16 inches
for F – 10 5/8 inches
for E – 11 inches
for D – 11 3/4 inches
for C – 12 5/16 inches
for B – 12 7/8 inches

2. Drill two small holes on either side of the pipe approximately 1/2 inch down from the top to use as threading holes for string. This will allow you to dangle the chime while it’s being struck–otherwise if it’s held by hand the vibrations will be compromised and the note won’t sound properly.

3. String a 5-inch piece of string through the holes and knot it inside the pipe.

4. Write the note name in permanent marker on the pipe so you won’t forget which is which.

5. If desired, color code each chime by tagging it with a piece of colored felt around the string–this can be fun for small children where you could write out a simple melody using colored dotes to represent the notes they would need to strike.

6. Buy 13 large spikes to use as mallets for striking the chimes. Each can be slid down, nested inside, each chime to store while not in use. You can see one of the spikes in the picture above, the rest are stuck down inside the other chimes.

My kids liked to string the chimes in order along a broom handle that they then suspended between the backs of the kitchen chairs to make them easier to play in sequence. Lots of fun and very educational.

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