Introduction: Rubber Band Harmonica!

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Make dulcet tones only a mother pigeon could love! With the rubber band harmonica, you can pick up a tune anywhere, and tune your harmonica with post-its to play any notes well in the mezzo-soprano range! This is a great introduction to vibrations, sound, and the effect on sound of string (jn this case rubber band) length. Let's squeak!

  • What: Rubber Band Harmonica
  • Concepts: sound, vibration, pitch, tone, string instruments, waves
  • Time: 5 minutes
  • Cost: ~ $0.03 each!
  • Materials:
    • 2 colorful wide craft sticks
    • 1 medium size rubber band
    • 2 small rubber bands
    • 1 post-it note
  • Tools:
    • Scisssors

On with the music!

Step 1: Add Your Frets

Cut two strips off your post-it note, so that they include the sticky part at the ends of both. Wrap them around one of your craft sticks, and stick them to themselves.

Step 2: Add the Vibrating String

This is the string that will vibrate, and will produce the musical (liberal term) notes! Grab a medium-sized rubber band that is a bit wide, and stretch it over the stick you added the Post-Its to.

Step 3: Slap on the Other Stick

Now it's time for the other stick. Hold it to your first stick, and use the small rubber bands to keep them together by wrapping them around either end. You may double up to make the rubber bands tight, but don't make them so tight that you can't move the Post-Its back and forth to tune.

Step 4: Play Like a Banshee

You're ready for some good ol' fashioned entertainment! Blow in between the two popsicle sticks, and your breath will cause the rubber band to vibrate to make the music! Depending on how far your two post-it strips are, different notes will be played. This is a great introduction to string instruments, and string tension, pitch, etc. Have fun!

Even though you're using wind-power for this instrument, it's physics are much more akin to a stringed instrument. A great explanation of the physics behind a guitar's sound can be found here, and very much applies!

If you're working with kids, and they get to bring them home, get ready for some elated, grateful, and well-rested parents the next day. :)