Wednesday, 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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Heather said...

Very cool way to let the kids explore music at home. I don't think they get enough time to "play" with instruments at school. Thanks for sharing!

Flea said...

Way cool! Can I hang them in a circle as wind chimes? It's very windy here in Oklahoma.

Babystepper said...

I like the wind chime idea. Except I don't really like the idea of them flying off in what my son calls a "Gale Wind!" Not good for the windows.

Doll Clothes Gal said...

Now that is really cool - but do you think I can actually do that?

Janelle said...

My in-laws have a set of musical pipes. It's a big tradition in their family to have a bunch of people from church over on Christmas Eve for a big potluck dinner and Christmas carols with the chimes. I think that's the only time of year the chimes come out. Although we will have been married for three Christmases this year (and together for four), last year was my first experience with them. I didn't much enjoy it, but I was also 5 1/2 months pregnant at the time and quite irritable.

Sheri said...

I love this idea. It would also be fun to make a set for the church nursery. They are so pricey in the stores. Thank you for such a great blog.

Killlashandra said...

This sounds like a wonderful project and something we could maybe hang outside to let W.W. play whenever he wants. I'll have to think about that. I'm not sure I want it inside all the time. ;)

Buy Acyclovir said...

Nice post, really simple I just came back from the garage I just made my own wind chime jeje thanks

Chocolate on my Cranium said...

This is so cool! It would also make a great unique homemade Christmas gift for special little people. I'm thinking my niece and nephew would love this!

Richelle said...

That is really cool! Too bad I don't have the tools to do it. Maybe someday. My mom, who is a piano teacher, has a set of chimes (that she bought) that are about the same idea. It would sure be fun to make your own though!

Daisy said...

Love it! They can make tuned wind chimes, too. Choose a chord (a major chord plus the 6th tone on the scale is lovely for chimes), "tune" the tubes, then hang them and wait for wind.

jubilee said...

What a neat project. Am thinking that I can enlist The Calm One to help.

My kids will love the chimes. We have a park nearby that has huge chimes that they love to clang. ANd my mom has huge wind chimes that the kids cannot keep their hands off of!

Damselfly said...

I have to do this!

Damselfly said...

OK, my husband has to do this!

Anonymous said...

i think this is a really cool idea. its a great introduction to music and they could get involved with making them. i will keep this in mind, thank you. i dont comment much i do enjoy your site. i should come here more often. i miss the ninilchik area with all my heart.

HTF said...

Great info! While i was growing up we had a tradition that each Christmas Eve we broke out the chimes and did holiday tunes. This was significantly better than us singing to people!

Organizing Mommy said...

I am totally going to do this!

Jennifer said...

Fun! I've made boom pipes out of PVC. Lots of fun too, but takes up quite a bit of space.

Anonymous said...

Oh Michelle! This one tops all the others! What a great craft. We are definitely doing this one!
Thank you so very much you little creative genius, you!

Stephanie Saunders said...

So do you have any idea of the lengths for other notes, like A flat, E flat, etc? I really need to try this! I just googled how to make pipe chimes and your site came up. Email me at