WAUSAU, Wis. — Hunter Falkowski and Casey Stankowski have known each other since elementary school, just finished their junior year of school and both play drums in the Wausau West band.

But during the recent Wausau West Pop Concert, the two students rattled a different type of percussion instrument, one built by hand and inspired by the nationally known trio Blue Man Group and a YouTube sensation known as SnubbyJ (real name Kent Jenkins, according to his Facebook profile).

Falkowski, 16, a student at the Wausau EGL Academy charter school, chose to build an instrument out of plumber's PVC pipe for his end-of-the-year capstone project.

Neither student is in a band outside of school. Stankowski, 17, who is entering his senior year at Wausau West, said he'd "maybe" like to pursue music, but Falkowski is more interested in engineering.

The concept for their creation seems simple: Different lengths of PVC pipe, when hit with a mallet or some other quasi-drumstick, produce different notes, similar to strings inside a piano.

The result was anything but simple and required some of Falkowski's engineering skills. The project consumed 80 hours of labor and $350 in materials to shape 200 feet of pipe — connected by 120 different 90-degree elbow joints — into a twisted mass of tubes that, along with a wooden frame, weighs about 200 pounds and resembles a suspended bowl of oversized spaghetti strands.

Pipes that normally carry water or sewage instead can carry a tune in four octaves.

"How you see it, all crammed in there, we had space planning out our nice pipe and we're like, 'Hey, let's go up here, go around here, we have 90 degrees and then we'd be in this range,'" Stankowski said.

But how does it work?

"We had a standard guitar tuner with a mic on it, and we would hit (a pipe) with a paddle and it would tell us what key we were on," Stankowski said. "We wanted to always be flat, if anything, because sharp meant there's too little pipe, and it's hard to add pipe. You can always cut more."

"My whole garage floor was covered with PVC dust," the soft-spoken Falkowski said.

To play the pipes, Falkowski invented his own drumstick, using a paint scraper and a trimmed paddle-ball paddle — the kind with the rubber ball attached via string — covered with a cut-up camping pad.

The two also added a string of lights that could be adjusted as their three-minute song, a Blue Man Group original called "PVC IV," progressed during the concert. The song was the only one the students had time to learn, but the crescendo at the two-minute mark added a dramatic flair for the concert.

"It's not that technical a song, but just everything with Blue Man and all the percussion, that's what makes the Blue Man songs special and what we wanted to imitate," Stankowski said.

Tim Fetting, lead instructor at EGL Academy, said the entire creation is special.

"I was impressed by the size, the magnitude, the engineering behind the way it was constructed and the sound quality with how it was tuned," Fetting said. "It is very impressive. "Impressive enough for Falkowski to earn an A, and for a compliment from SnubbyJ on a YouTube clip of the students' performance.

"I was impressed by the size, the magnitude, the engineering behind the way it was constructed and the sound quality with how it was tuned," Fetting said. "It is very impressive."

"I liked what you guys did with it and in some legit lighting!" he wrote. "Good job guys."

Information from: Wausau Daily Herald, http://www.wausaudailyherald.com