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D, Popsicle Stick and Paper Plate Kalimba!

Back to the Orffabet! Today's letter is D, the shape of the popsicle prongs on a homemade Kalimba!

Lisa Lehmberg of the University of Massachusetts, has agreed to share this portion of her book chapter. Hurray, Lisa! Let's make a Kalimba out of popsicle sticks, paper plates, and some scrap wood!

You'll need:
  • two small, sturdy paper plates
  • one wood block (3cm x 7cm* x 1cm) To convert to inches click here.  This block is inside the plates and keeps them from collapsing.
  • 7 cm* piece of thin plywood
  • five flat popsicle sticks
  • 7 cm* strip of flimsy wood molding
  • brads or small screws (optional)
  • paper glue
  • wood glue
*the length is determined by the size of the paper plates. These measurements are for the structural stability of the instrument, NOT the intonation. Just eyeball or loosely measure the

Glue a block of wood to a paper plate near its edge. Glue another paper plate (plates facing each other) to the original plate and the wood block. Spread glue on both the rims of the plates and
the wood block. Glue a small 1x3 inch wood block to one of the plates directly over the inside wood block. Cut a hole in the top paper plate. Glue five or six flat popsicle sticks to the wood block, arranged so that the center sticks are longer than the side sticks (use proportins like your fingers to one another). Glue a thin, flat piece of 1/8 inch wood, such as screen door molding (same dimensions as wood block), to the tops of the popsicle sticks. If desired, brads or very small screws can be used to help hold the entire bridge mechanism in place.

Here is Lisa holding the finished product!

Buy the book here and see how to make an M'bira using prongs from a child's rake!

Lisa J. Lehmberg is Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Lisa holds a Ph.D. Degree in Music Education from the University of South Florida, as well as Bachelor and Master of Music
Degrees in Piano Performance from the University of Illinois. She is author of the book The Challenges and Rewards of Urban Teaching: Six Elementary Music Teachers’ Perceptions of Effective Teaching and Pre-Service Preparation for Urban Classrooms, an article in Music Education International, and "Make It and Take It!" World Instruments for the General Music Classroom in the MENC publication, Kaleidoscope of Cultures - A Celebration of Multicultural Research and Practice


Laura said…
That is terrific! I want to tell our music teacher about your blog.
Joy said…
Hi Suzanne! This is going to be my first year as an elementary art teacher in an inner city school. I am super excited about it and had an idea maybe you could help direct me where to get more/better information... I have spoken to the school's music teacher about collaborating to make homemade African instruments with the students (perhaps a different instrument for each grade level) to use during a concert for black history month. The music teacher is really excited about the prospect and I have some ideas on how to make some different instruments (rain sticks, shakers, drums...), but not nearly enough. Any ideas? thanks!
Anonymous said…
Hi there! I wasn't able to find your contact information to send you an email, but I just wanted to let you know we've featured your idea in one of our recent round-up posts. Here's the link, if you'd like to take a look:

Keep up the great work! :)
Anonymous said…
good idea- very useful
Anonymous said…
great idea

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