Building Practice Bead Counters

alt These are easy things to build to help students be motivated to practice their music. It is also a fun project for the students themselves to do in a group class setting. It only took our students about 15 minutes to select their materials, paint, or otherwise decorate their practice counters. You can buy them, but it is almost always more fun to build something like this yourself and know that it is yours, than to buy it.

The supply list:

1″x4″x6″ piece of wood. I used pine since it would be painted. 
12.5″ of 8 gauge wire. 

Tools you will need:

Wire cutters
An anvil
Rubber Mallet
Drill

Crafty stuff:

Pretty/fancy papers
Paint of some sort
Mod Podge
Beads

Cost per piece: About a dollar.

If you are only building one, it might be a little higher if you have to buy an 8′ board. If you just want one, or a couple, I suggest looking for scrap wood or asking your hardware store if they have any small pieces you could have for free (leftover from a cut or something).

I included an anvil above because that is what I used to make a really nice even bend in the wire. Also, if you are making these for your wife, you can show her the list as proof that you need a new tool. Leave a comment below and I will update the required tools section for any other new tools you might want and need an excuse to buy.

Building

Step 1

Cut the wood to your desired length and sand it smooth. Or, leave it rough if you want your students to get splinters.

Step 2

Cut the wire. I used about 12.5″ of wire. You can use more or less depending on the size of your beads and how many you have.

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Step 3

If your hardware guy was like mine, he probably bent the crap out of the wire he sold you. You want a nice, straight wire so you can make a nice, smooth bend. Take your rubber mallet and pound it straight on your anvil (or other smooth surface).

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Step 4

Find the midpoint of your wire and bend it slightly. Turn it upside-down on the anvil and use the rounded portion to make a fantastically curved bend.

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Step 5

Shine up the wire with some 00 steel wool. This is completely optional.
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Step 6

Clean off your work area with clean rag so you have a nice place to set the pieces for drilling.

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Step 7

Since I was making 18 of these, I made a template to help me drill the holes in the boards.

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Step 8

Drill the holes. I suggest you do not drill all the way through.

Step 9

Assuming you have previously decorated the base, put it all together.

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Step 10

Practice your piano (or violin, or accordion). Remember, practice does not make perfect. “Perfect practice makes perfect.”