Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Music of the Civil War, and Making Civil War Drums and Mallets

We made drums for the children to march around the house with, and to drum on while we sang or listened to music of the Civil War. I had a great songbook from the library that told about the songs as well as provided nice piano accompaniments. We loved singing "Battle Hymn of the Republic," "Battle Cry of Freedom," "Dixie," "Slavery Chain Done Broke at Last," and others.

On a side note, during our morning devotionals this unit, we sang through all the battle and war-related songs we could find in the hymnbook, and the children loved it SO MUCH. They would BEG to sing "just one more," and often we'd sing all 4 verses of four or five different songs in one morning. I don't blame them, as the martial hymns are some of my favorites too. There are lots of hymns with battle/armor of God imagery, but the ones we liked best were: [hymn numbers from the LDS Hymnbook]
#60 Battle Hymn of the Republic (of course)
#243 Let us All Press On
#246 Onward Christian Soldiers (when the children learned that this was written by Sir Arthur Sullivan, of Gilbert and Sullivan, they were thrilled. They love The Pirates of Penzance.)
#248 Up, Awake, Ye Defenders of Zion
#249 Called to Serve
#250 We are all Enlisted
#251 Behold, A Royal Army
#259 Hope of Israel
They were so delighted with all the talk of foes and regiments and captains. It was really cute.

Back to drums! We were "lucky enough" to have recently popped one of those big rubber balls that comes from cages at the grocery store, and I saved the rubber (plastic?) for this purpose. If we hadn't had the popped ball, I was planning to use some leftover vinyl from the carwash we made a few summers ago.

We used oatmeal containers, pineapple cans, and a potato flakes can for our drums, but of course you can use any container you want. We just opened one end of the container, stretched the rubber across, and taped it to keep it tight. Then we taped butcher paper around the body of the drums so we could decorate them.

This worked fine and I've made lots of this kind of drum in the past---however, we also found a method that I like even more: a packing tape drum. The great thing about this drum is that it actually has a pretty  nice sound, and you can get a decent double-bounce even without using real drumsticks! I was a drummer in high school/college, so I'm pleased about things like that. :) I loved playing the drums and I miss it!
I do have real mallets and sticks, but I never let the children use them, so we made our own out of craft foam and chopsticks. They are pretty good, for homemade mallets. The craft foam makes them a bit bouncy, and they're lighter than real sticks so they're good for little hands.

Here's how you make the mallets:
Cut a longish, thinnish triangle of craft foam. Tape the chopstick to the wide end of it, like this.

Roll the stick up in the foam toward the point of the triangle

Secure it with tape (or glue would be even better so you wouldn't have tape over your foam, but we never have the patience for glue to dry).

So, there are our Civil War drums. We had lots of fun with them. You can hear how they sound in these videos:
Me playing the tape drum with a really weird grip (the chopsticks were too short for me); you can hear its nice clear sound compared to the rubber ones

Drum cacaphony


  1. how did you attach the string or ribbon to put around kids' necks?

    1. It's been awhile, but I think I just poked holes using an awl (for the cardboard) or a poking can opener (for the metal can), and then tied the string into the holes. :)

  2. how did you attach the string or ribbon to put around kids' necks?


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...