After learning more about how instruments make sounds, and how different notes can be played with each other to produce either pleasant, or unpleasant, sounding combinations from our Resident Expert Ms. Brittany Schmutzler, they were anxious to put that knowledge to work.  While the entire class was working on designing their wind catchers on Easel, small groups of students would come over to a “chime station” that held numbered pipes all cut to different lengths.

The pipes were all half-inch metal conduit, or EMT, that had been cut to various lengths. A PDF from Lee Hite that contained various charts that specified the lengths to cut the pipes, and drill the hanging hole, in order to get a certain note frequencies was particularly invaluable for this project. To begin with, I cut 14 different pipe pieces to get a modest range of notes, and marked the with the numbers 1 through 14. The hanging holes were drilled as the charts suggested, and then they were deburred.

I hung them on a wooden board that had nails in it so the pipes could dangle. But I didn’t hang them in any particular order; I left them randomly placed on the nails.

I demonstrated for the students how you could gently strike each pipe with a screwdriver or pencil, and get a note to play. We revisited the idea of “open” and “crunchy” sounds that we’d learned about the day before, and found that the musical characteristic applied to our chimes as well.

The class as a whole was then sent to work on their wind catcher designs on Inventables’ Easel.

I invited small groups of students to come up and tinker with the different pipes to find their personal set of 4 notes that sounded best to them. They were to record their pipe selections on their wind chime build permits.

One of the most interesting things to occur in class happened with the first group to tinker with the pipes. They removed all of the pipes that I had hung on the board, and re-hung them in order according to length! I asked them why they did that, and they told me it was so the “notes were in order now.” I wish I’d asked more questions about how they knew they were in order – was it because of what they saw with Ms. S, or because they’d seen the bars on a xylophone, or because of the numbers I wrote on the pipes. Knowing more about what they were thinking would have been really useful to know in later iterations of this project, and it will be something that I am sure to catch next time.

Over all, this was an especially interactive part of the wind chime project, and some thing I was personally excited to see first hand – students applying their tinkering habits of mind to music making!



Some social media posts associated with this #MakerEd moment:




Your turn. Any thoughts to share?