Hi all! My name is Mandy Hallow, and I am a k-8 music and art teacher in the Interlake School Division.
I’m in my second year of teaching and am really lucky to have been able to continue teaching music in my school. My music classrooms will be testing out different instruments available from Quality Classrooms this school year, and I’m really excited about it! Our music program is expanding quickly, and I’m looking forward to adding even more of a variety of instruments to our classroom and performance music this year.
The first musical instrument we are testing in our music classrooms was the Boomwhacker XTS Whack Pack. A set of 8 Boomwhackers that came with a canvas case or ‘stand’ that would allow the students to play the instrument like a traditional xylophone.
This came extremely handy in our music classroom! We have a limited number of barred instruments in our school, and I’m always searching for alternatives so that as many students as possible can be on a barred instrument at the same time. Using the Boomophone setup, I was able to have another student play on the bars. And of course, everyone wanted to have them first!
Boomwhackers have been used in our music classrooms for some time, and all of the students (even the junior high!) have loved using them for centers and whole group ensembles. Having the stand with them, even though it lays flat on a table or the floor like we have been using it, the sound quality is quite nice. It works well with the balance of the instruments, and because the instrument is easy to set up, the students are able to set it up in the pentatonic that we are using.
The book Whack-a-Doodle-Doo! was included with the set, and this book was wonderful! Finding Boomwhacker music isn’t always easy online, and there seems to be very few accessible resources for boomwhacker music, that the students can follow easily on their own. Because the notes were colour coded to match the instrument, it made it really easy for beginning students to follow along and successfully play the instrument.
The students really enjoyed using the Boomophone in centres, and it gave us a new option for students to practice their note reading skills. My 2/3 class has begun working on learning solfege, and with the boomwhackers labeled in both conventional notation and solfege syllables, the students have been able to make those connections. My only issue has been that all solfege work has to be based on C, and that is the boomwhacker labeled with Do, but overall, it has been really helpful that the instruments are labeled with both. It also allows my students that aren’t staff reading yet to begin building their note reading skills without knowing it.
I love using the Boomophone in my classroom! Because the instrument tubes are able to stay in the base mat, it makes it so easy for me to pull out quickly to demonstrate on, and to clean up if it is not needed all the time. I had expected the base to be more solid, creating more of a xylophone effect, and was disappointed at first that it was a canvas base, but have found that to be an advantage for portability and use with students. However, a solid base would have given it more of a xylophone feel. But overall, this has been a wonderful addition to our classroom instrument collection.