Banging out That Song

by Laura Overdeck

Usually you aren’t supposed to pound on your toys with hammers. But there’s one toy where you can do that all you want: the xylophone. This musical instrument has wooden bars of different lengths that you hit with “mallets” (hammer-like sticks) to play notes. If the bars are metal, it’s called a “glockenspiel” and the notes sound like bells. This photo shows the Lancaster Percussion Ensemble playing GIANT xylophones the size of pianos — some need 2 people playing them! And this video shows a musician playing the super speedy “Flight of the Bumblebee.” That’s some fast hammering!

Wee ones: If you play 5 notes on your xylophone, what numbers do you say to count them?

Little kids: If you and 3 friends play a giant xylophone together and each one of you has 2 mallets, how many mallets do you all have?  Bonus: If on your xylophone you play the notes C, E, G, then C again, E again and so on, what’s the 8th note you play?

Big kids: Xylophones are laid out like a piano keyboard. If each one has 3 whole “octaves” of notes, where each octave has 7 white keys and 5 black keys, how many keys can 1 xylophone have?  Bonus: If you play all the white keys twice and your friend plays all the black keys 3 times through, who finishes first? (Assume you play your notes on the same beat.)




Wee ones: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5!

Little kids: 8 mallets total, since there are 4 people (remember to count yourself!).  Bonus: E.

Big kids: 36 keys (3 sets of 12).  Bonus: You finish first. You have to play 21 notes twice (42 in total), while your friend has to play 15 notes 3 times (45 in total).

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