Sunday, April 25, 2010

Tutorial: How To Make A Giant Keyboard Floor Mat

My giant keyboard has generated some interest after my last post, so here's a tutorial so you can make one, too! I made it a million years ago on a whim one afternoon. I didn't measure anything, and if you look closely, you'll see that some of the white keys are narrower than others. No matter! It serves my purposes, and it didn't cost a cent since I had all the materials on hand. My young students love having something big enough that they can walk on. Their eyes light up when I pull it out! I use it for teaching the names of white keys, teaching whole and half steps, having students stand on intervals, etc. I'm sure you can come up with lots of uses for it.

A twin bed sheet (flat), a wooden yard stick, a sheet of poster paper, a large sheet of construction paper, scissors, and a jumbo, permanent marker with a 5/8" tip like this one: Avery® Marks-A-Lot® Permanent Marker, Jumbo Chisel Tip, Black

It's been so long since I've made mine that I don't remember the brand of marker I used. It was just a giant, poster-type marker - not a fabric marker or a specialty product. So, I can't guarantee your results. I've only washed my sheet a handful of times, but it has never bled. If it fades, just draw over it again. For the first few times, I'd wash it either by itself or with things you don't care about, just to be safe. As an alternative, you might use fabric paint. I'm not crafty enough to know what to recommend! If you are, please share your ideas in the comments!

I've drawn on my white board to illustrate the instructions. You'll be drawing directly on the sheet. My lines are not perfectly straight, nor are they drawn to scale, but they'll show you what to do.

Fold the bed sheet in half lengthwise. You should have a long rectangle that's approximately 96 inches long and 33 wide. (Your sheet may vary a little.) Insert the poster paper between the two layers and keep it underneath your marker as you work so that any bleed-through from the marker goes on the poster paper and not on the work surface underneath. (This will save the other half of the sheet in case you mess up on the first try.) Using the yard stick as a straight-edge, draw a straight line that is 90 inches long. This is the bottom edge of the keyboard. Your line should be parallel to the long side of your rectangle, about 2 inches from the edge of the sheet. Make a hash mark at the beginning of the line and at 9" intervals so that you have 11 hash marks spaced 9" apart.

On the next picture, I've numbered the hash marks for illustration purposes. Don't number yours! From the 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th, 9th, and 10th hash marks (BE SURE to skip the 1st, 4th and 8th ones!) draw a line perpendicular to your first line. These lines should be approximately 15" long.

From your construction paper, cut out a 6 x 12" rectangle to serve as a template for the black keys. If you're using 8.5 x 11" paper, you will have to tape two pieces together in order to make a rectangle 12" long. On my white board picture, I'm using a bit of a sticky note as a template. Position your template at the end of each of your 15" lines. Draw around it and fill it in until each line has a black key.

Draw a line from the hash marks we skipped earlier (1, 4, 8, and 11) to the top of the keyboard picture and then close off the top edge. You're done!


Anya said...

I know everyone loved this idea when you posted last week --- thanks for sharing your 'recipe'! Can't wait to try it!
Anya at NotesofJoy

Susan said...

I was really hoping you would share this with us! Thanks a lot.
Susan P.

B said...

This is SUCH a great idea! I was looking into buying a vinyl roll up keyboard, but it's not nearly as large as your bedsheet keyboard. Online it costs about $37 with shipping and tax. I'm totally interested in making my own now, though! How long does it take to make?

Laura Lowe said...

B: Glad you like it! I bought a big vinyl staff floor mat once. I liked the idea of it, but didn't like the fact that if I folded it up to store it, the creases remained. I definitely prefer fabric to vinyl. Gosh, I don't remember how long it took to make. Certainly not more than an hour.

B said...

I actually bought a vinyl giant staff! The price was right ($21) and I knew I couldn't draw one on my own that would look nice. As far as storage goes, when you unroll it the creases go away within 15 min, so the vinyl actually works out quite nicely. Another plus is that you can just sani-wipe it clean.

I do, love, however that if I were to make this bedsheet keyboard it would be much much larger than any of the vinyl ones selling online. The kids could jump and skip on the keys! And saving ~$40 on a purchase is always a good thing, too. :) Thanks for posting!

Tanya said...

Laura, you've inspired me! I enlisted the help of my fabric-savvy sister to make your giant keyboard. We used white upholstery fabric (which has a nice weight to it) that we had lying around. My older students love to use it as a chance to practice their note reading while stretching their legs away from the piano. And my youngest student (he's 6) immediately turned it into a personal Twister game. I put a stuffed animal on middle C, and then showed him flashcards of notes on the staff. For each note, he'd put a hand or a foot down on the fabric keyboard - before long, he was completed twisted up, in a fit of giggles, and learning to read notes faster than I ever expected. Thank you!!!

Laura Lowe said...

Tanya - that's great! I'm sure that your upholstery fabric will give you a nice surface that will hold up for years!

Mary said...

What if you used the backside of the vinyl flooring like used to finish your kitchen or bath? My question is how to make one that makes music so the kids can dance to make the music and learn at the same time? The online ones are pretty expensive, $80 for two cheapie octavies...