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Make Your Own Instruments

Make Your Own Instruments

These simple instruments can be made at home using common household objects, including cardboard tubes, sturdy tape, wax paper, rubber bands, and small round objects like pasta, beans or beads.

Feel free to tailor each activity to the items you have around the house, and to fit your children’s ages and interests.

Rhythm Shakers

There are many kinds of shakers found all over the world, like the maracas and egg shakers used in Latin and Caribbean music, or the rainsticks found in Southeast Asia, Africa and Australia. You can make your own version of this at home!

You will need:

  • A cardboard tube: The tube inside a toilet paper or paper towel roll is the perfect size.
  • Durable tape: Good options include packing tape, masking tape or electrical tape.
  • Small, round items: About one cup of light pasta, beads or beans will go inside the shaker to make sounds as they bump into each other.
  • Optional art supplies for decorating your shaker.  

How to make it:

  1. Using the tape, completely cover one end of the tube.
  2. Pour the small, round items into the other end of the tube.
  3. Using the tape, completely cover the other end of the tube.
  4. Decorate the outside in any way you choose to express your personality.
  5. Play the instrument by gently shaking the tube back and forth in whatever rhythms you choose!

Homemade Kazoo

Kazoos have all kinds of fun possibilities for making sounds—using your own voice!

You will need:

  • A cardboard tube: The tube inside a toilet paper or paper towel roll is the perfect size.
  • Wax paper: A 5-by-5-inch square of common wax paper used for kitchen needs will work well.
  • Rubber-band: You can use any rubber-bands that you find around the house.
  • Pencil
  • Optional art supplies for decorating your kazoo.  

How to make it:

  1. Take the wax paper and cover one end of the cardboard tube. Hold the wax paper in place by looping the rubber-band around the part of the tube with the wax paper on it.
  2. Using the sharp pencil or other sharp item, carefully make a few small holes along the side of the tube.
  3. Decorate the outside in any way you choose to express your personality.
  4. Play the instrument by placing the uncovered end over your mouth by humming or making sounds like “do,” “wee” or “nay”!

Glass Bottle Xylophone

A xylophone is an instrument in the percussion family. A musician produces different sounds on the xylophone by using a special stick, called a mallet, to tap wooden bars of different sizes. You can make a similar instrument with glass bottles at home! 

You will need:

  • Six glass bottles or jars: Find six clean glass bottles or jars around the house. If your glass items are the same size and shape, the sound will be more similar than if they are all different. You can also use more than six!
  • Metal spoon: The metal spoon will be used as the mallet, meaning you will tap the glass items gently with the spoon.
  • Water: Water from the sink will partially fill the glass items.

How to make it:

  1. Put a different amount of water in each glass item. Less water will make a lower sound, and more water will make a higher sound.
  2. Line up the glass items so that the lowest sounds are on the left and the highest sounds are on the right. If all the glass items are the same size, then the item with the least amount of water will be on the far left and the item with the most water will be on the far right.
  3. You can try putting more or less water in the glass items to change the sounds.
  4. Play the instrument by gently tapping it with the metal spoon!

Minnesota Orchestra at Home

Find more educational activities, playlists and at-home performances from the Minnesota Orchestra musicians on our new webpage!

WATCH. LISTEN. LEARN. >


* Activities adapted from these designs:

[1], [2], [3]

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Sponsors

  • This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.
    This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.
  • Official Airline of the Minnesota Orchestra
    Official Airline of the Minnesota Orchestra