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DIY Tupperware Drums

As an alternative to buckets (see Bucket Drumming 101) in our after-school percussion program (ages 3 to 9) in the San Jose area, Tupperware marching drums can’t be beat. They are quiet, easy to produce (see below), inexpensive, incredibly lightweight, and of course allow children to march while playing. The latter might be the most important feature, as it requires coordination between the hands and feet (very much like playing a drum kit).

After a lot of trial and error, I came up with the following design — using the lid as a playing surface — and therefore avoided drilling holes in the plastic.

Materials Needed

  • Tape Measure
  • Scissors
  • Glad Food Storage Containers, Family Size, 104 Ounce, 3 Count
  • Parachute Cord—Also known as paracord and comes in a variety of lengths and colors. I bought mine at Walmart.
  • Scotch Blue Painter’s Tape
  • Colored Duct Tape (blue and red for this project)
  • Two (or more) Unsharpened Pencils

Instructions

1. Using the tape measure and scissors, cut off a piece of paracord, 44"–46" (112–117 cm) long. 44" is ideal for the average height of a three-year-old.

2. With the lid of the container taken off, make a hook at one end of the paracord (approximately 2") and loop the curved portion of the hook on the inside of the drum (over the rim). IMAGE

3. Tear off a 2" piece of blue tape and affix it under the paracord hook as shown in the following image. IMAGE

4. Next, using the blue tape as a placeholder, tape the hook on both sides (inside and outside of the container) over the rim. For balance purposes (so that when the drum is played, it stays flush against the abdomen of the player), make sure that each hook is placed slightly shy of 50% along one side of the rim. On the outside of the container, tuck the tape (and cord) under the rim. IMAGE

5. Repeat for the other of the side of the cord. IMAGE

6. Now place the lid over the taped hooks. Make sure that the seal produced by the lid is as firm as possible. IMAGE

7. To help reinforce the seal, tear off a piece of the blue duct tape (the length of the side of the container), and apply it first to the lid near the rim. IMAGE

8. Next, tuck and adhere the duct tape under the rim of the container. Ideally, the cord should come straight down (or out) from the tape point, with very little obstruction. Repeat on the other side. IMAGE

9. Finally, tear off a piece of red duct tape, long enough to extend along the rim from the cord attachment to the corner of the container/lid. This is done on the shorter side, so that the child knows to put the red side against their body when playing the drum. IMAGE

10. Unsharpened pencils are ideal for playing the drum (eraser side out) for the following reasons.

  • With the Tupperware drum right up against your body, short sticks are the most comfortable to play.
  • Pencils are lightweight and will therefore do no damage to the drum.
  • These light sticks will help keep the drum extremely quiet.

Other Considerations

  • For the best pencil playing technique, hold them between your thumb, pointer, and middle finger.
  • You can color-code these drums using the concept found in my book Drumset For Preschoolers. This would be done in the same way as presented in DIY: Turn Your Bucket Into A Drum Kit, except using the stickers found in the book, instead of colored duct tape. In addition, since the sides of the Tupperware drums are fairly short, blue and green stickers (and the sounds that they represent) are interchangeable. In other words, the sides of the Tupperware drum really only make one sound.

Andy Ziker

Andy Ziker is a teacher and professional drummer in the San Jose, California area. He has authored several instructional books, including Drum Aerobics, Daily Drum Warm-Ups, and Drumset for Preschoolers, and The Jazz Waltz.




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