Saturday, August 22, 2015


Our little ukulele choir is already looking at Christmas music. Yes, in August. And, yes, because we need that much time to prepare and not only for the eight and under crowd either because we're trying to stretch ourselves—to move beyond C, G7, and F, to add more difficult strumming patterns (and maybe even some finger picking).

We've been playing for so long that Benjamin's no longer a baby and is starting to think he needs a ukulele of his own to play with. He and Miriam are pretending these ukuleles are violins, currently, but you get the idea (and it drives Rachel crazy when he borrows hers):

I suggested that we try using our handbells in one of the songs. I have a set that my mom gave to me and Laura has a set as well. I can't stand it when the kids get them out to play with but if we're all feeling very disciplined they're quite fun to make music with. Laura pointed out that our bell sets are diatonic, which kind of limits what we can do (though a lot of our songs only use C, G, and F chords, and we could just have the bells play with the chords). I went online see how much an add-on chromatic set would cost (about $30 on Amazon or Ebay, in case you're wondering) and checked Craigslist to see if anyone just happened to be getting rid of a set of handbells (because you never know). No one was.

But someone was selling a xylophone. And it was a really good deal (though it was a little more than $30) so we decided to go for it. Because xylophone.

We played on it for hours this afternoon (without Rachel because she was at a birthday party). It also came with a drum pad, which Benjamin enjoyed (and frankly, we enjoyed him playing on that more than on the xylophone because he likes to play everything fortissississimo and, really, you can only play a drum pad so loud before it simply maxes out on its ability to create noise...unlike a xylophone).

Miriam practiced and practiced until she mastered Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. She insisted on playing a duet with me on the ukulele. She played the melody on the xylophone and I accompanied her with chords on the ukulele. It was pretty fun!

Here's Benjamin taking a turn. He's only allowed to use the yellow side of the mallets because they have a dampening effect (the other side of the mallet plays a lot louder). I don't know much about percussion instruments—that was always Uncle David's thing—but we'll learn. I'm sure different mallets have special names and such but at our house it's "yellow end" and "loud end."

Daddy put us all to shame! He pulled out some sheet music and played Hedwig's Theme, much to the children's delight.

I'm still debating those other handbells, but we're quite happy with our xylophone for now!


  1. So jealous!!!! I want a xylophone! All I get to play are gangsas and jegogan and penyacha.

    1. Oh, I suppose you and Josie do more percussion now than David does!

      And I know that, but I was thinking about David playing in HS. :)

    2. Well, I only play "foreign" percussion--so not quite the same. Different scales. And Josie only plays "foreign" percussion and HandSonic, which is also very different from actual percussion. So, David is actual the only true xylophone player in the family. UNTIL NOW! Now you are taking the mallets and running with them!

  2. I played the xylophone in 8th grade and I still play various percussion when given the opportunity, usually through Mormon Choir of Washington. So, seeing kids get into percussion warms my little heart. I was about to comment about how Craigslist would be a great place for me to look for instruments for my one day music room to supplement the practice of all the instruments I've dabbled in, and how I want a xylophone. But then, as I started this comment, I remembered that I think I actually do have a set of bells (which is technically what I also think you have in the bells/xylophone/marimba family of instruments) and that I should check at home tonight. Still need to get a harp and a piano and a . . . In other news, someone in my neighborhood is some sort of professional percussionist - they have a license plate that seems to indicate they are part of a fife and drum corps and their living room (from what I've seen through the window and door) seems to be full of various drums. I walk by with Malcolm frequently and want to know more about this person! Also, I'm sure I'll start Christmas music with MCW next week. :)

    1. Amanda, your comment made me smile! So much fun with music!