Tuesday, April 4, 2006

A Banging Wall

A Banging Wall
Amanda Soule

As I’m sure is true at your house too, we all love banging on pots and pans around here – the adults are no exception. So when we saw a Wall of Sound in the children’s area at the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association annual Common Ground Fair, we knew we needed something like it for ourselves. Fun, easy and inexpensive to create, it’s the best kind of toy for the whole family.

Your “Banging Wall” (as ours has come to be known) can be anywhere – in a yard, the side of a house, or even in a basement (for the very patient or at least earplug-equipped family). We wanted ours to be freestanding, and outside. We have a fairly wooded area around our home, so we used small fallen tree logs to create a basic A frame shape (we made two A’s with the logs, and then a log on top to connect the two, and logs across the side as well). Use what you’ve got—plywood, logs, whatever. I’d recommend making it big enough so that several children can be using it at once without getting a stick in the eye.

Once you’ve got a sturdy shape, the fun of collecting the sound makers begins. We dug around our kitchen for items that were no longer in use, and then hit Grammie and Grampie up for their discards too. We also took a trip to our local thrift shop to pick up some extras. Anything works: pots and pans, lids, trays, baking sheets, cake molds, graters, metal bowls, big plastic water jugs (my favorite sound), or whatever else you come across that sounds good (just avoid glass and sharp objects). Attach these objects to your frame. Some of our pieces are nailed to the logs, some are screwed in, and some are hanging from rope.

The last things you’ll need are ‘drumsticks’. We went back into the woods to find ours in the form of fallen tree branches and sticks, but you can also use wooden spoons. We keep a big bowl of these at the ready, attached to the base of the Banging Wall. Then, you’re ready to make some music!

We built our banging wall three years ago now, and it’s still as much of a hit as it was on the first day. It’s a huge draw for visitors – both children and adults, which is part of its beauty. It brings out the drummer in all of us! It’s so amazing to create music together, without worry of something sounding “right” – it all sounds cool on the Banging Wall. And each year, we’ve added a few extra things to it – new instruments, or found wood for aesthetics. It’s a mix of musical instrument, toy, and recycled art for your yard.

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