Homemade musical instruments with loose parts

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Looking for a boredom buster? Try making DIY musical instruments with loose parts from around the house.

Half music, half science and lots of fun! Creating our very own homemade musical instruments is a favourite activity at our place.

We love searching the house for materials to use, assembling them, and then, of course, testing them out. There’s always a moment of “Wow!” when something works. Or, when things don’t quite go to plan the disappointment, followed by “maybe if I…”.

Making music with loose parts is a lovely way to have fun, while exploring science concepts such as tension, vibrations, volume and sound.

This homemade guitar is an easy to make musical instrument

Grab a small box or container. You’ll want something that has one side open, like a shoebox or food storage container without the lid. Stretch an assortment of elastic bands, 3 or 4 is enough, around the container in parallel, and you’re done!

The elastic bands are your guitar strings, so you’ll want to have a gap between each of them. If you can, try to use elastic bands that are different shapes and sizes, so they each make a different sound when plucked.

DIY guitar made from loose parts
DIY guitar made from loose parts

A simple flute to make at home with the kids

This is one of the simplest homemade muscial instruments to make. All you need is a cardboard roll and a little imagination. You can decorate it, draw on it, colour it in, or paint it, then simply blow into it. A word of warning, for a grown-up the sound it a little ho-hum. But, for a child it can be a whole world of excitement.

Try blowing across the top of the tube, straight down into the tube. Try just tapping the top with the palm of your hand. Each provides a different sound to explore.

Homemade flute made with a cardboard roll
Homemade flute made with a cardboard roll

DIY drums made with loose parts

Who doesn’t like rap, rap, rapping out a beat on drums! It’s invigorating, energizing and liberating. There’s something about the rhythm. It just makes you smile. You can, of course, make drums with pots, pans and bowls, using wooden spoons and cutlery as your drumsticks. These “drums” are lots of fun, but a bit hard on the ear drums. Or, try our loose parts drums. They take a little more effort to put together, but your ears will thank you and they’re a fun musical instrument to put together while at home.

To start, you’ll need to gather some round containers. Jars (be careful with glass!), food storage containers (lids removed), cups or even cardboard rolls will do. You’ll also need some balloons. The idea is to remove the top of the balloon (the mouth and neck sections where you blow into), keeping the round bulb section intact. Then, stretch the balloon over the mouth of the containers, and secure the balloon with an elastic band. Voila! A drum.

You’ll notice that each drum makes a different sound, depending on its size and shape. You can also explore different ways to play them, some ideas are tapping them with your hand, a popsicle stick, or a teaspoon. Try pulling the balloon up and letting it go, instead of tapping it. What sound does this make? If you’re using a jar or cup, you could also try putting a little water into it. What happens?

Loose parts music with drums
These loose parts drums are a great way to make music at home

The easiest water xylophone to make with kids

This is an oldie, but it’s quick to set up and one we come back to often. You’ll need some glass jars or cups that are the same size and shape, water and a metal spoon (a teaspoon is perfect).

All you need to do is fill the jars with water to different levels. Then tap them gently with the spoon (we recommend tapping on the side of the jar not the top to avoid breakages). Notice the different sounds made by each jar. If you’d like to mix things up a little you could add some food colouring to the water. You could also try using jars of different shapes and sizes to compare their sound.

Make music with a homemade water xylophone
Make music with a homemade water xylophone

Maracas to make at home with loose parts

Another simple, but really effective, instrument! You’ll need an empty plastic bottle (a milk bottle, soft drink bottle or water bottle are all fine, but you’ll find smaller bottles are easier for little hands to hold and shake) and some dried rice or pasta.

Make sure the inside of the bottle is dry before you begin. Then, it’s simply a matter of pouring the dried pasta or rice inside, tightening the lid and shaking! If you have younger children you may like to glue the lid on for safety.

We hope you love our homemade musical instruments as much as we do! Why not make a few of them, and you can set up a DIY band in your loungeroom.

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