Ms. Jenkins a.k.a. The Chromatic Music Teacher online next to her famous boomwhackers. Image: Ms. Jenkins and Alyssa Shotwell.

Elementary School Music Teacher Captures Hearts of Millions With Rainbow Boomwhacker Videos

Have y'all met Ms. Jenkins?

If you had a good experience with your elementary school music teacher, then Ms. Jenkins, a.k.a. The Chromatic Music Teacher, is the nostalgia trip you need on your social media feed. She is a kindergarten through fifth-grade public school music teacher that makes short videos online and is most famous for doing popular covers with her classroom Boomwhacker, an idiophone percussion instrument first produced by Craig Ramsell (founder of Whacky Music) back in the 1990s.

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Music was a big part of most of my life, so I want to break down what that means before coming back to Jenkins. Idiophones are instruments that make sound via vibration without air (horns and woodwinds), strings (including pianos), membranes (drums), or electricity. Idiophones can be bells, xylophones, symbols, and more. Ramsell engineered plastic tubes that, when gently tapped, would create a pitch. The ’90s also marked a time when upcycling “junk” instruments was in vogue. Think of the rise of the Blue Man Group (1987) and Phil Collins’ Trashin the Camp song from Tarzan (1999). The affordability made them a popular, durable music teaching tool worldwide. Enter Jenkins—three decades later and on TikTok.

@thechromaticmusicteacher

This might have taken the longest out of any Boomwhacker video I’ve ever made ? #boomwhackers #music

♬ original sound – Mrs. Melody Jenkins

Jenkins’ ability to connect with others online, transcribe covers for popular songs, and tap into the child-like magic of a time before middle school when music class was more democratized (instruments are expensive) made her a hit on the app. Plus, let’s be honest, using the giant rainbow set of Boomwhackers looks mesmerizing.

Anime, pop tunes, and cartoons

In addition to Boomwhackers, Jenkins will use other instruments like sound bellows and desk bells (also idiophones). Most people who’ve come across Jenkins’ work know her for her friendly teacher demeanor and for recreating iconic songs. She has so many requests that she created a form anyone can fill out to help her organize it all.

“Chromatic” in Jenkins’ nickname references musical and visual art. The chromatic scale is a twelve-tone scale that goes from one note and hits every following note (including halftones) until you hit the next octave of that same note. In art and design, chromatic colors refer to all colors except black, white, or shades of gray—like a color wheel! She uses a wide variety of colors and a full breadth of notes. I’m squinting here, but it looks like each rainbow is in a set of twelve colors, and she has three, so she can play 36 notes, or three scales. Each red, yellow, etc., is the same note at three pitches. This range is excellent for playing most recognizable music.

@thechromaticmusicteacher

Regular scales are boring, but Boomwhacker scales are fun! ❤️ #scale #boomwhackers

♬ original sound – Mrs. Melody Jenkins

Like many a woman that has fun on the internet, the occasional hater comes in to try to put her down, but she finds a way to clap back in a family-friendly way. To become a music teacher, you need several years of training to get into a program that takes 4-5 years on the light side. In my first two-and-a-half years of college, I was on a music scholarship. Hence, I took some lessons with students like Jenkins (who has a Bachelor of Music in Instrumental Music Education). They had to learn multiple instruments, music theory, and more on top of educator classes. It’s one of the most demanding majors, even if you have natural musical talent.

Fashionably fashionable

@thechromaticmusicteacher

Just trying to be kind to my voice but it does make me feel like a pop star ? #musicteacher #microphone

♬ Crowd Cheers – Johnny Buchanan

Other than the Boomwhacker pipes, something else changes in almost every video. Did you catch it? I didn’t even notice until Jenkins pointed it out. In most videos where you can see the ground, she usually changes her shoes (usually Tieks ballet slippers) to match the Boomwhackers she’s holding.

In addition to her music and teaching-related videos, she shares other related interests like fashion and her love for roller coasters and Just Dance. As a big Google Forms fan myself, I’m guessing if you request a song, it will end up on a Google Sheet like this because teachers have to stay organized.

If you’ve avoided the time suck that is TikTok and wants to follow her on other platforms, she’s semi-active on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

(via TikTok, image: Ms. Jenkins and Alyssa Shotwell)

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Author
Alyssa Shotwell
(she/her) Award-winning artist and writer with professional experience and education in graphic design, art history, and museum studies. She began her career in journalism in October 2017 when she joined her student newspaper as the Online Editor. This resident of the yeeHaw land spends most of her time drawing, reading and playing the same handful of video games—even as the playtime on Steam reaches the quadruple digits. Currently playing: Baldur's Gate 3 & Oxygen Not Included.