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February 18, 2020

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New instruments join the Ada band - boomwhackers

By Monty Siekerman
High school commencements are rather formal affairs, mostly scripted the same from town to town, but this year's Ada High School graduation ceremony added a new feature, which was creative and fun: boomwhackers.

Nine senior band members, along with Band Director Johnathan Lischak, played a John Williams medley using colorful plastic "instruments," called boomwhackers. Even a flautist joined in during portions of the piece.

Boomwhackers were used by the Ada students once before in competition, but this was the first time a home audience heard such an interesting instrument.

Boomwhackers produce musical tones when struck against nearly any surface.

It took a man recovering from radiation therapy to bring the instrument into being. Craig Ramsell cut cardboard tubes into shorter lengths for recycling. He hit them against his hospital bed, noting that different lengths made different sounds.

Long story short, Ramsell produced some prototypes in plastic in the mid-1990s, later decided to color-code the various lengths, found success in the marketplace, eventually selling his company, called Whacky Music, to a bigger outfit.

Kudos to Director Lischak for bravely adding a bit of fun to the proceedings and for introducing the audience to the silly named boomwhackers.
(Monty Siekerman photo)