How to Make a Simple Musical Instrument

Five Methods:Making a Balloon DrumMaking a ShakerMaking a Two-Note FluteMaking a Water Bottle XylophoneMaking a Rain Stick

You can make beautiful music without buying expensive instruments. For thousands of years people have been making instruments out of natural materials and household items using their own two hands. Read on to learn how to make a simple drum, shaker, flute, xylophone, and rain stick.

Method 1
Making a Balloon Drum

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    Find a drum base. You can use an old pot, a bowl, a vase, or a bucket. Choose a deep, sturdy container as your base. Avoid containers made out of glass or other fragile materials.[1]
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    Get a package of balloons. You'll likely pop a few in the process of making your drum, so it's good to have more than one. Choose large-sized, sturdy balloons. You may want to get a variety of sizes to you can be sure to find one that fits your chosen drum base.
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    Cut the end off a balloon. Take a scissors and cut of the end of the balloon right where it becomes narrow.
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    Stretch the balloon over the base. Use one hand to hold the balloon over one end of the base while you use the other hand to stretch it over the other side. The balloon goes over the opening of the pot, vase, or bucket you're using as the base.
    • You might want to get a friend to help you hold it it place so it won't snap back.
    • If the balloon you used seems too small or to large for the base, try a different sized balloon.
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    Secure it in place with tape. Use a heavy-duty piece of packing or duct tape to hold the balloon in place all the way around the rim of your drum base.
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    Play the balloon drum with sticks. Use chopsticks, pencils, or other long, thin objects to play your drum.[2]

Method 2
Making a Shaker

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    Choose a shaker container. You can use an aluminum coffee can, a glass jug with a lid, or cardboard cylinders to make shakers. Wooden containers also work well. Each type of container will end up making a different, unique sound.
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    Pick out something to shake. Any number of small items will make interesting sounds when you shake them. Gather a handful of some or all of the following items:
    • Beads, either plastic, glass or wooden
    • Dried beans or rice
    • Coins
    • Seeds
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    Put the shaking materials in the container.
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    Seal the container with a lid.
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    Wrap the container in masking tape. Overlap each loop of tape a bit to make sure the container gets completely covered.
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    Decorate your shaker. Use paint or and/or other decorating materials to add bright colors and patterns to the shaker.
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    Shake it up. Use the shaker as a percussion instrument by itself or with a band.

Method 3
Making a Two-Note Flute

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    Get a glass jug or bottle. This works well with a wine bottle, olive oil bottles, large glass jugs, and any other glass container with a skinny neck.
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    Bore a finger-sized hole in the bottom. Use a glass cutter to cut a small hole in the bottom of the bottle or jug.
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    Blow across the hole that is already in the top of the jug. Position your lips so that you're blowing horizontally right over the opening. Keep blowing until you get a clear note. This may take a while, so be patient and keep practicing.
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    Cover and uncover the hole on the bottom with your finger. Do this as you blow, and experiment with the different sounds it produces.
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    Try tilting your head down and up to make the note sharp or flat.

Method 4
Making a Water Bottle Xylophone

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    Get five 20 ounce water bottles. Choose round bottles with flat bases and wide mouths. You can also do this with jars. Number them 1 through 5.[3]
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    Fill the bottles with different amounts of water. Add the following amounts to the water bottles:
    • Bottle 1: 19 oz. This will produce an F note.
    • Bottle 2: 13 oz. This will produce a G note.
    • Bottle 3: 11 oz. This will produce an A note.
    • Bottle 4: 8 oz. This will produce a C note.
    • Bottle 5: 6 oz. This will produce a D note.
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    Play the bottles with a metal spoon. Tap the spoon against the sides of the bottles to produce notes.

Method 5
Making a Rain Stick

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    Hammer small nails into a paper towel tube. Hammer them in sideways in random areas around the tube. Hammer in at least 15 or so nails for best effect.
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    Tape a cover to the bottom of the tube. Tape a piece of cardboard or another sturdy cover over the bottom of the tube.
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    Add "rain." Pour in some rice, sand, dried beans, beads, popcorn kernels, and other small objects that will make the sound of rain.
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    Cover the top. Add a second cover to the top of the rain stick, and tape it down.
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    Cover the rain stick with wrapping paper. You could also decorate it with paint or stickers.
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    Play the rain stick. Tip it from side to side to hear the sound of falling rain.

Tips

  • Another way to make drums: Get a bucket and paint it. Cover it in clear (see-through) paint to make it shiny. Do that to several more buckets until you get a set of drums. Put them together, upside down, into a circle. Sit in the middle of the circle and drum away!

Things You'll Need

Drum

  • A container, such as a pot
  • A balloon
  • Duct tape
  • Chopsticks

Shaker

  • A container with a lid
  • Dried rice, beans, beads, etc.
  • Masking tape
  • Paint or stickers

Flute

  • Water jug or wine bottle
  • Glass cutter

Xylophone

  • 5 20-oz water bottles with flat bottoms
  • Measuring cup
  • Water
  • A spoon

Rain Stick

  • Paper towel roll
  • Cardboard
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Nails
  • Hammer
  • Wrapping paper

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