4 Easy-To-Make Homemade Instruments


Your kids’ next rainy morning can be filled by a combo of craft time and music session by making instruments with stuff in your home. First, sit down with the kids and have a brainstorm session about which musical mechanisms they like and how you might be able to replicate them. Percussion instruments are the oldest kind, and the easiest to make. Experimenting with different items will yield different sounds. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

1. Shakers


This is so simple, and anyone has the materials on hand to make one. From pebbles in a plastic container to pop corn kernels in a plastic water bottle to rice or beads in a little glass jar, almost anything will work. Imagine the subtlety of sesame seeds inside an old pill bottle. Your kids could create a huge collection of shakers in different sounds and sizes. We put rice in an old plastic Easter egg. Encourage the children to play along with the rhythm of their favorite songs, to march around and create different beats. Or get them to go random-crazy, shaking with all their might.

2. Rain Stick


I’m pretty sure these things are made with a complex system of cactus needles and magic inside, so when my little niece suggested we make one, I kind of balked. It was she who came up with the idea of toilet paper tubes with “something else inside.” We used aluminum foil and rice. Fold a square of foil over each end of the cardboard tubes and secure with tape. Use a pencil to poke lots of little holes in the foil, just big enough for rice to fit through. Then tape all the tubes together. Close one end. Put about a ¼ cup of rice into your cylinder and close up the top. We stuck the foil ends on with rubber bands so we could add or remove rice later. Our rain machine needs a little gentle jostling to move the rice down through the layers, but it has a remarkably accurate sound. The longer you make your rain tube, the better it will work.

3. Water Glass Orchestra


This is the coolest instrument to play with two or more people. Line up four to six tall drinking glasses along with a couple of wine glasses. (We taped all of ours to the counter to help keep them from toppling over.) Fill each glass with a different amount of water. Give your kids some spoons and show them how to tap the glasses gently to get different notes. Then teach the older ones how to swipe their fingers around the rims of the wine glasses to produce tones. You can adjust the water in the wineglasses until the tones harmonize — or not. Add more glasses of different sizes or shapes and see what notes they can produce.

4. Tin Pot Drum Set


This may seem like a no-brainer, but parental endorsement is always nice. Kids love to bang on things, and creating an elaborate drums set comprising pots, pans and plastic bowls can really get the party going. Toss the band a few wooden spoons, crank up their favorite songs, and let the play-along begin. (Note: If you set this train in motion, it may be hard to stop. If you are concerned about the kids doing too many noisy encores, set a timer or designate the number of songs they can play. Then … it’s clean-up time.)

Decorating your instruments can be as fun — and fill as much time — as making them does. If your kiddos used items you don’t care about, cover the kitchen table with newspapers and get wild with some paints, glue and trinkets. If you used glasses and stuff from your kitchen that you don’t want to mark permanently, think about using colored tape, pipe cleaners or tying on some ribbon or yarn.

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