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Want to know how the Boomwhackers Musical Tubes were invented?  (IN THE BEGINNING)  How about when were they first used in a public performance, or what was the largest gathering to use them so far? (MILESTONES)   Here we take you back in time!



(as told by Craig Ramsell, inventor of Boomwhackers Musical Tubes)

It was late May of 1994 - we had just wrapped a birthday gift for a friend and had finished the roll of gift wrap paper.  A few days later, I was preparing to put the cardboard roll into our recycle bag, but it was three feet long and the curbside pick-up requirements were no more than two feet.  I figured the people that pick this stuff up curbside can be kind of particular about it being a certain way, so I decided to cut it in two.

I grabbed one part with each hand and then did something that millions of others (including me as a kid, according to Mom) have done over the years with cardboard tubes from paper towels or toilet paper or whatever - I hit something with the tubes.  (Was it the countertop first or my thighs? My thighs, I think, but it has been awhile.)

Hey, I thought, these things sound pretty good, and their pitch is noticeably different!  I held them right next to each other.  They were a little different length.  Of course!  Lots of musical instruments are based on that principle!  I began hitting the countertop, the chair, the table, my thighs.  I had been bit by the percussion bug.  The cardboard tubes were quickly falling apart.  I'm on to something, I said to myself. If I can find a material that "gives" like these cardboard tubes without falling apart . . .

(The above, with minor modification, first appeared in an article Craig wrote for the Lookahead,  a small, and now defunct, monthly entertainment periodical in Marin County, California.  It's long but a kick to read, as least according to Craig!)

A lot has happened since that day in '94.  We formed DrumSpirit, a sole proprietorship to market the tubes.  Our first production version, which was beautiful but not durable enough, was introduced in '95, only in the C Major Pentatonic Scale.  DrumSpirit introduced the redesigned, more durable version in '97, again with just the 6 tubes of the pentatonic scale.

Whacky Music, Inc., was then born in early '98 and introduced all but one of the other sets we now have to comprise two full chromatic octaves (25 notes).  The addition of the Octavator™ Tube Caps in '99 created the ability to produce a third lower octave.  In 2001, we shipped our one millionth Boomwhackers Tube and introduced the Whack-a-Doodle-Doo! Songbook.  In 2003 we launched the biggest product line expansion ever.

We detail more of the history below in MILESTONES.  First, here's one that doesn't show up in that section:

Several years later, Craig was recycling cardboard in Sedona, over 4 years after that first moment of inspiration, and a second light bulb went off in his head.  "Wait a minute," he thought, "I went to the trouble of getting a scissors to cut the tube in two?  Why didn't I just fold it in half and shove it in the bag?  I would have been done with it."

"It" was the task at hand - getting the 3' cardboard tube within the 2' by 2' requirements of the recycling company that picked up curbside.

A moment of "irrational" behavior from an otherwise pretty rational, albeit whacky, guy.  We have our theory, but we don't want to get too metaphysical on you!

A Note from Craig (August, 2009): A few years back I began the process of looking for an "exit strategy" as a result of feeling burned out by the day-to-day of running Whacky Music, Inc. I'm delighted to be passing the baton to Rhythm Band Instruments, who I am confident will continue creating more milestones and do a great job of expanding on what I've been blessed to have the opportunity to take as far as I have. Thanks to all of you that have assisted and supported me on this "Whacky" journey.

See the Photo Archive



8/09  Rhythm Band Instruments acquires the Whacky Music product line.

8/08  The sixth million: 6,000,000 Boomwhackers tubes shipped worldwide!

4/07  The fifth million: 5,000,000 Boomwhackers tubes shipped to date!

6/06  The group Plastic Musik performs a full show entitled "Drastic Plastic" with Boomwhackers Tubes at Busch Gardens in Tampa, FL, for a full two-month run. Quoting Craig: "It's the most amazing thing I've seen anybody do with the tubes! It's a drumline-meets-'garbage can band'-meets-melody-meets-theater."

5/06  Boomwhackers Tubes appear on the The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in a performance of the "Whacked William Tell" by Steve Russell and Kobi Shaw of "In Capable Hands."

1/06  The fourth million: 4,000,000 Boomwhackers tubes shipped to date!

5/05  Whacky Music officially enters the church market with Bible Boomers™, Vol. 1.

2/05  National Press Exposure: Boomwhackers are featured in Newsweek magazine, followed by the Washington Post in May, and the New York Times in July.

1/05  The 5-volume Boom-a-Tunes™ Curriculum Series for Primary Grades is completed with the introduction of Volume 5.

11/04  Boomwhackers Musical Tubes are a mega-hit among celebrities at the American Music Awards in Los Angeles and the Radio Music Awards in Las Vegas.  Whacky Music participates in the product showcase and “celebrity gift bag” for both events.  Musicians Jon Bon Jovi and Kenny G, among other stars, want sets for their kids.

11/04  Whacky Music, Inc., announces that its Boomophone XTS Whack Pack has received awards from several parenting and children’s organizations

10/04  The third million:  3,000,000 Boomwhackers tubes shipped to date!

5/04    A paragraph about the Boomwhackers® C Major Diatonic Set is included in a Readers' Digest article by Claire Greene, Executive Director of Parents' Choice Foundation, as a result of being named by Parents' Choice as one of the Best 25 Toys in 25 Years.

2/0  Craig appears ever so briefly on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno as a result of an interview at  the American International Toy Fair.  If you blinked, you missed it!

1/04    Whacky Music, Inc., introduces the Building Blocks™ Series of songbooks using a simplified form of music notation developed specifically for younger children to use with Boomwhackers Musical Tubes. 

1/04    Whacky Music, Inc., introduces Whack Tracks: The Boomwhackers Sessions - Audio CD featuring Ralf Illenberger and Craig.  This CD is the first to prominently feature Boomwhackers Musical Tubes on all tracks.

1/04    Whacky Music, Inc., introduces the Boomophone™ XTS Whack Pack, which combines the 8-note C Major Diatonic Set, the XyloTote™ Tube Holder, the Boomwhacker Whacker™ Mallets, the Whack-a-Doodle-Doo! Songbook, and an Octavator™ Tube Cap.

12/03  The Treble Extension Set of Boomwhackers Musical Tubes is added to the product line, representing the first addition of new tones since March, 1999.

12/03  The Boomwhackers® C Major Diatonic Set is selected by Parents' Choice Foundation as one of the Best 25 Toys in 25 Years.

10/03  Whacky Music, Inc., introduces the first of many educational materials developed for the tubes by Ellen Foncannon, Director of Educational Materials: the Boom-a-Tunes™ Curriculum, Volume 1.

8/0  Whacky Music, Inc., ships the first XyloTote™ Tube Holder, which makes it possible to play the Boomwhackers Musical Tubes in a whole new way - like a xylophone.

5/0  Whacky Music, Inc., hires music educator and composer Ellen Foncannon as Director of Educational Materials, signaling a commitment to produce an entire line of educational materials for Boomwhackers Musical Tubes.  It also ships it's two millionth Boomwhackers Musical Tube.

10/01  Whacky Music, Inc., introduces the Whack-a-Doodle-Doo! Songbook, the first songbook to have all the musical notes color-coded to match the Boomwhackers Musical Tubes.


7/01    Whacky Music, Inc., enters into an agreement with Warner Bros. Publications to produce "joint publications" for the Boomwhackers Tubes.

6/01  Craig and Whacky Music, Inc. produce and present the first (and so far only) Sedona International Guitarfest in conjunction with the Sedona Cultural Park, featuring the following artists: Stanley Jordan, Tierra Negra (Raughi Ebert and Leo Henrichs), Peppino D'Agostino, William Coulter and Benjamin Verdery, Tim Sparks and Steven King.

2/01    Later that month, between 16,000 and 17,000 kids play Boomwhackers Tubes at a Phoenix Suns' special event for area children, led by Robert Van Arlen Smith of the (former) Character Through Music Foundation, setting a new record for most people playing Boomwhackers Tubes at one time.

2/01    Craig's first national TV appearance with the Boomwhackers tubes, on the Bloomberg Small Business Report on the USA network, as a result of an interview at the American International Toy Fair.

8/00    Whacky Music, Inc., in conjunction with the Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation, donates a classroom quantity (4 diatonic sets) to 5 schools in each of the 50 states, plus 5 schools in Washington DC and 2 in Puerto Rico.  The retail value of the donation was over $25,000.

4/00    Craig first demonstrates Whacky Music's products at Musikmesse (musical instrument trade show) in Frankfurt, Germany, at the Blazer & Reinhardt booth (now Reinhardt GmbH).

11/99  How low can we go?  Octavator™ Tube Caps are introduced, creating the ability to produce a third lower "contrabass" octave.

10/99  First known use of Boomwhackers tubes with audience participation at a professional performance: "Body Tjak / The Celebration", directed by I Wayan Dibia and Keith Terry (the latter the director of Crosspulse).

6/99    The Boomwhackers tubes get their first award:  Dr. Toy's Best Children's Vacation Products.  See Awards for additional award information.

4/99    Craig's first TV appearance with the Boomwhackers Tubes, on Phoenix Channel 3's (KTVK) Good Morning Arizona program.

3/99    Liberation from the Key of C:  the Chromatics and Bass Chromatics sets are shipped for the first time.

2/99    Whacky Music, Inc., exhibits for the first time at the American International Toy Fair in N.Y.

12/98  Turtle Creek Chorale (Dallas) and the Seattle Men's Chorus, each with over 200 members, use the tubes in two full diatonic octaves for their holiday performances of familiar carols and the "Hallelujah Chorus" from Handel's Messiah.  Tubes appear on the QVC shopping channel.

11/98  Boomwhackers Tubes begin selling to the toy market.

8/98    First book to discuss Boomwhackers tubes is published, "Drum Circle Spirit" by Arthur Hull (White Cliffs Media).  The tubes are also featured on Track 5, Boom Whacka Boom, of the companion CD.

5/98    Whacky Music, Inc., picks up its first distributor to the musical instrument market.

4/98    C Major Diatonic and Bass Diatonic sets are added to the product line.  Tubes are used at the grand opening of Disney's Animal Kingdom and become a regular feature of the performance of the Village Beatniks at the park.

1/98    Whacky Music, Inc., is formed by Craig and Monnie Ramsell and exhibits at NAMM.

11/97  Boomwhackers Tubes are a big success at the American Orff Schulwerk Association Conference in Bellevue, WA, featured in clinics by Arthur Hull.  This was the first event where a large number of teachers had the opportunity to learn about the tubes.

9/97    First international sale goes to South Africa.

6/97    Current production version introduced by DrumSpirit with Craig Ramsell leading over 1000 Massachusetts Institute of Technology alumni and spouses in a tube jam at the alumni reunion Technology Day, Kresge Auditorium, MIT, Cambridge, MA.

1/97    The tubes are first exhibited by DrumSpirit at NAMM (the International Association of Music Products convention) in L.A.

6/96    Release of first recording to prominently feature the tubes, "Samba Nova" by Chalo Eduardo.

11/96  First known use of the tubes in a commercial movie soundtrack, Space Jam.  (So we're told by Emil Richards, who performed with them on the soundtrack - we couldn't pick 'em out in the soundtrack when we saw the flick!)

7/96    Largest group playing the tubes and largest number of tubes used in a single event, a Silicon Graphics, Inc., company event, facilitated by Arthur Hull.  Estimated at 2500 to 3000 people, the sheer number of participants was surpassed in 2/01, but this event remains unsurpassed for the largest group of people distinctly creating music by playing the tubes.

6/95    First production version of the Boomwhackers Tubes debuts at the Marin County Fair (CA), where they are featured in performances by D'Cuckoo, by Jorge Bermudez and Chalo Eduardo, and in a drum circle with Arthur Hull.

12/94  DrumSpiritTM is formed by Craig and Monnie Ramsell to develop and market the tubes.

9/94    Zakir Hussain & friends give the premier public performance with prototypes of the musical tubes at Cowell Theater, Fort Mason, San Francisco, CA.

If you know something that you think belongs in MILESTONES, please let us know.

Product Info
Cool Stuff 
Tooting Our Horn
Intro MusicMakers Where to Purchase Quotes
The Tubes Sights and Sounds Ellen's Tube Tips Awards
Accessories Audio Especially For Teachers News
Education/Books Video Working with Groups
Glossary Links
Some History Instructions


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"Boomwhackers" is a licensed, registered trademark.
"Whacky Music" and the Whacky Music Logo are trademarks of  Whacky Music, Inc.