Make a Spoon-Jar Chord Player

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    Tune up six one-quart jars by filling them with water to different levels. Add water to lower the tone and pour some out to raise it. You can make sure that you have the correct pitch by asking someone to play the musical tones of the scale—DO, RE, MI, FA, SOL, LA—on a piano or other instrument in a key that will match your voice range. Label the tones on the jars and mark the exact water level carefully when they are tuned.

    Arrange the jars in a triangle shape on a large piece of cardboard as shown in illustration. Trace around the bottom of each bottle to mark its place; then label the circle with the right tone. Also mark different colored spots as shown so you can set the bottles up again easily.

    To play a chord, rattle a spoon between the jars over one of the dots. Play the colored chords and listen to them carefully. Most simple tunes can be accompanied by these three chords.

    To play “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” first get the pitch by striking the starting pitch note DO. Then accompany yourself on the bottles, changing the chords as shown by the colored lines under the words.

    Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

    Twinkle, twinkle, little star;

    How I wonder what you are!

    Up above the world so high,

    Like a diamond in the sky.

    Twinkle, twinkle, little star;

    How I wonder what you are!

    After you get a feel for the way the chords should sound, try other songs, such as “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” (beginning on FA) and “The Farmer in the Dell” (beginning on DO). Try the songs with three people, each playing a different chord.

    Illustrated by Doug Roy