DIY Instruments


IMG_6229Jingle Bell Bracelets

This is by far one of the easiest, most durable and fun instruments you can make. All you need are some bells and some kind of stretchy band/string. I used 1/4inch elastic waist band for these, which was the perfect size to fit right through the bell holes. I just tied the elastic in a knot after sizing it to the child’s wrist or ankle.

Making Music with Kids (11)Popsicle Stick Harmonica

I found this idea on a site called I’ve become a big fan of this website for kid projects. Here is the Popsicle Stick Harmonica instructions. One important note: if you are making this for kids younger than 4, note that they might slobber a lot on the colored popsicle sticks which will cause the dye to come off on their lips. I recommend buying plain popsicle sticks (tongue depressors) for this, and using wax paper for the inside instead of regular paper. Here is another variation on the harmonica.

IMG_8091Glitter Shakers

This is a variation on shakers that I found both visually appealing and fun for kids to make. You will need clear plastic bottles (I bought mine at a craft store), objects to go inside (I used paperclips, buttons, bells, and mini clothespins), glitter and hot glue. Give your child the bottle and a pile of stuff they can put in it. When they are finished, put glitter in the bottle (I called it magic dust), and hot glue the lid shut. Vwallah! A fun shaker.

IMG_8129Paper Plate Tambourine

An easy classic. You will need 2 thick paper plates, bells, a stapler, a hole punch, and string or optional ribbon. Staple the two paper plates together facing in. It helps if you keep the stapler on the table when you do this step. Punch hole around the edges for as many bells as you have. Tie string or ribbon through the holes and then tie bells to the string or ribbon. I like to let the kids color the plates as well.

IMG_8126Y-Stick Shakers

I love the uniqueness of this instrument. Inspiration for this came from Mini-Eco, but I made a few changes. You will need a y-stick cut from a branch, a wire or thick string, and bottle caps. As far as tools, you will need a tree branch trimmer, hammer and nail, and (ideally) a drill with a tiny drill bit. Cut a y-shaped stick from a tree. If this is for a young child, smooth the loose bark off and sand the edges. Punch holes in the bottle caps with a hammer and nail. Ideally in order to keep the wire from slipping off the stick, you should drill a tiny hole near the end of each side of the y-stick the wire can fit through. String the wire through the hole on one side and secure it around the stick. String bottle caps through the wire. It seems to look best if the bottle caps are strung front to back, alternating. Secure the wire on the other side of the stick.

IMG_8189Jingle Letters

I created this one myself. You will need paper mache or wood letters, bendable wire, wire cutter, bells, beads, and a drill. Drill holes where you think it’s best to stretch the wire. String the wire through one set of holes, string the bells and bead on the wire, then string the wire through the second set of holes. I also let the kids color the letters so they could personalize them.

IMG_8372Rhythm Sticks

A simple and fun instrument for kids 3 years old and on. You will need a wooden dowel, ribbons and tape. Cut the dowels into 12″ segments. Tie the ribbon around one end and wrap tape around the ribbon to secure it. I used 1/2″ in diameter dowels and duct tape to secure the ribbon. One benefit of having a thicker section of tape is that you can direct your child to “put their hands on the rainbow tape” to teach them how to hold the sticks.

IMG_8538Mini Guitar

This instrument was not very simple in comparison to others I have made. My inspiration came from Mini-Eco but I made a few changes. If you want to make this particular version, you will need: a paper mache box from a craft store, rubber bands, a shake straw, tacks and hot glue. You will also need a drill with a 1/8″ drill bit and a knife or circular hole cutter. I used a circular hole cutter drill attachment to make this hole, but you can cut it with a knife. I was making a lot of them so I wanted something fast. Cut the shake straw into about 3″ segments and hot glued a segment near the hole. I used a 1/8″ drill bit to drill 5 holes on opposite sides of the box lid- I marked the placement with a pen first. I then placed the tacks in the holes. Cut the rubber bands (it doesn’t matter how long they are but I would recommend no thicker than 1/8″). Tie them on either side of the lid to the tacks. If you are musical, you can even spend the time to tune the bands. Secure the tacks. Hot glue the lid to the box.

IMG_8636Pie Plate Tambourine

A tambourine made of aluminum pie plates as opposed to a paper plates makes much better sound and is a tad bit more durable. You will need 2 aluminum pie plates, bells, wire or string, and a hole punch. First, punch 3 or 4 holes spaced apart in the pie plate rims when they are put together. Next, string wire or thick string through the holes to keep the pie plates together. You can either string the bells onto this string or wire, or put a separate string or wire to hold the bells through the holes. I recommend large bells to make a bigger sound. You can put as many bells on each hole as you like.

IMG_8622Balloon Drum

I received inspiration for this drum from Quirky Momma, but I made a few changes. You will need one balloon, a formula or coffee can (or a plastic container if that’s all you have), packing tape, scissors. First, cut the bottom skinny part of the balloon off right as it starts to get a little bigger. Next, you will do something I lovingly call balloon wrestling. That is, wrestling the balloon on to the top of your can. If you want some laughs, you should video tape your first attempt. Once you successfully have the balloon secured over the top of your can, tape the sides with packing tape. If you have a plastic container, you will need duct tape for this step. I made mallets out of paper towel rolls covered in aluminum foil. They make a great sound since they are long. You will notice the balloon top does not last very long if it is played with heavy or sharp objects. Side note: Quirky Momma makes her drums look cool by putting 2 different colored balloons together, but I  noticed the balloon does not make nearly as much sound if there are 2 balloons as opposed to 1.