DIY Orff Mallets

Blog header DIY Orff Mallets with picture of supplies and finished mallet
I don't know about you, but I want my kids to be able to play instruments if at all possible in the upcoming year!  In order to do that, each students will need their own pair of mallets without sharing.  I have searched around for the cheapest way to make mallets that I can find.  This one can be created for about 40 cents per mallet!
Drill, glue gun, wooden dowel, rubber paintball, vinyl end cap


       ¼” wooden dowels—pre-cut is nice, though 10” length may be more desirable than 12”. Also, precut doesn't leave a sticker residue behind like you get from buying the longer dowels at a home improvement store.  Here's my first try with the lovely sticker residue.  No thanks.

Example mallet with sticker residue

       Drill and 1/4” drill bit, may want to use a smaller bit first
       Glue gun or gorilla glue
       Sterisol concentrate
       Bucket for disinfecting

Optional Supplies:

       Paint for handles so each class has its own color to grab.
       Vinyl end caps if you cut your own dowels or want a clean look.

Steps to Making Mallets:

Step 1 (optional):  Paint the dowels.  Though not necessary, they may hold up better when sanitizing if you paint them first.  You can also cut them down to around 10" or 10 1/2" if you would like, but that is up to you and the tools you have available to you.  

Step 2:  Drill 1/4" hole in rubber paint ball.  (You may want to use a drill bit that's a tiny bit bigger if you have a hard time getting the dowel into the paint ball.)  This is the best part because you get a cool, useless rubber spiral!  I just held the paintball and slowly drilled and it worked great!  Try to get it as centered as possible or your mallets will look funky at the end.

Paintball with rubber spiral coming out
Drilling the paintball

Step 3:  Put a drop of hot glue inside paint ball.  (Honestly, mine were snug even without the glue!)
Insert wooden dowel into paintball.  It may take you a bit to find the best angle to do this, so practice doing it a few times without the glue.  Once you do, it goes quickly.  

Putting rubber paintball on dowel

Step 4 (optional):  Use a drop of hot glue to add vinyl end cap.

Putting vinyl end cap on end of dowel

Your final mallet will look like this:
Home made mallet

I based this mallet on one I had that came with an Orff instrument.  You will see that if you don't cut the dowels, they will be a bit longer than the ones that come with the instruments.  The head of the mallet will also be a bit smaller, but that will make it versatile enough to be used on everything from a glockenspiel to a bass xylophone.  Also, I couldn't find a bigger paintball than 0.68 caliber, so this is the biggest size they have.  

Frankly, I searched for a mallet head that would hold up and not fall apart when drilled (here's looking at you bouncy balls).  Rubber paintballs are the most similar in composition to the original mallet and seem to be much more likely to hold up than anything else I could find.  Wanna hear how they sound?

For sanitizing, I'm going to make enough for all of my students in the morning to use their own set.  I will sanitize during lunch and have enough for everyone in the afternoon to have their own pair.  My current plan is to use this sterisol concentrate that I used to use for recorders and put it in buckets.  The company has said you can use it until it becomes cloudy, but I'm going to change it out every week to be safe.  I think each bottle makes 4 gallons, but can't remember for sure, so check that out for yourself.  I expect it may dye the wooden handles red-ish or weaken the wood, so that may be another great reason to paint handles.
I hope this helps you keep Orff alive in your classroom this year.  If you are looking for another way to teach your students about Orff without actually touching instruments (hello, distance learning!), check out this Orff booklet.
Picture of Student Orff Instrument Book available on TPT

Catch you next time I have something noteworthy!

    Orff Teacher in a Covid World: Non-Singing Activities to Learn About and Make Music

         Music education will certainly be a challenge to navigate this year.  Will we be allowed to sing?  Will we be on a cart?  Regardless, we will join together to come up with ideas that will work for our students because they need us now more than ever.  And, frankly, I need my students too!
         I recently presented some non-singing music education ideas at The Music Crew's Virtual Conference 2020.  If you missed it and would like a chance to see it, here it is:

    Here is a copy of the slides I used if you want to be able to click on the links in the presentation.
    Here is a link to the new Orff booklet for students.  Half off through July 14, 2020 only :)