Rubber Band Harmonica!





Introduction: Rubber Band Harmonica!

About: The Oakland Toy Lab is a community-based wonder lab for students to build, tinker, explore, make, break, and learn! We are writing up engaging science experiences so that educators, parents, youth, and famil...

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. :)



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    23 Discussions

    Now I know what my kids are getting for Christmas. Lol


    2 years ago

    So if you use more that two post- it notes will it sound different? And if you use more than one rubber band to blow against, will it sound different as well?

    oh boy, I don't know about you but would you really want your kids to get their hand on these things blowing it all the time haha.

    We have so many instruments they could play, they understandably got bored with this one. I was thinking more about my daughter who teaches K4, and her sending 'her' kids home with it. bwah-ha-ha-ha... XD

    Cool idea... I don't think I will be making one of these for my kids any time soon though... that high note would be non-stop in my house and I don't think I could manage it. Keep up the awesome stuff.

    1 reply

    What a great Idea!
    I do think that the idea is more akin to a woodwind instrument. The rubber band acts like the bamboo single reed of clarinets and saxophones.

    1 reply

    You can replace the rubber band with some balloon rubber cut straight.

    1 reply

    I thought you used two nail files at first and was wondering how the cost was $0.03 total, lol.

    Add another octave and it will become an ultrasonic tooth cleaner :)