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Make a Thumb Piano

African thumb piano

Thumb pianos are instruments used in Sudan and other African countries to accompany singing. You can make a simple thumb piano.

Needed: 3 large bobby pins; a piece of sanded wood about 6 inches wide, 3½ inches tall, and ½ inch thick; pliers, and a staple gun.

Squeeze the looped ends of 3 bobby pins with pliers. As your release your hold on the bobby pins, they will break.

With a staple gun and the help of an adult, staple the broken pieces to the wood. Fasten each piece with 2 staples. Staple the first pin near the top of the pin (the broken end). To create different sounds, fasten each remaining pin further and further away from the top of the board — but no further than halfway down the pin. Bend the bottom ends of the pins upward, away from the board.

To play the thumb piano, hold it in both hands, with one hand on each side of the thumb piano, and pluck the pins with your thumbs.


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