Music Crafts

Tips to make your own musical instruments.  Always remember to clean and sanitize recycled items.


Container:  film canister, pill bottle, muffin liner container, etc.
Filling:  rice, beans, split peas, beads, etc

Fill the container about half full of rice (or beans or whatever you are using).  Be sure the top is on securely.  Hold with your thumb and forefinger on the top and bottom.  Shake in time to the music.
Some tips:  You may decorate shakers using stickers, acrylic paint, etc.
Variations: You may use a small metal box (breath mints), cardboard tube, or other container and fill halfway with paper clips or buttons.
Safety note: do not use small tacks or other dangerous objects.  If used by a small child, do not fill with choking size items (use large buttons, etc).

– Paper Plate

Music Shaker Paper Plate

Music Shaker Paper Plate

Container:  paper plate
Filling:  rice, beans/lentils, or beads
ribbon or yarn for decoration (optional)
Fold the paper plate in half.  Put a handful of beans, paper clips, buttons, or other items that rattle inside the paper plate.  Staple the folded plate closed.  Shake.
Variations:  You may decorate the paper plate first using crayons, stickers, paint, glitter, ribbons, etc.


1/2 inch dowel – rhythm stick
1 inch dowel – claves
To make rhythm sticks:  saw the 1/2 inch dowel into two 12 inch long pieces.  Sand the ends and play by hitting them together in the air.
To make claves:  saw the 1 inch dowel into two 8 inch long pieces.  Sand the ends and play by hitting them together in the air.

As taught in California schools – 1960

Wax Paper Kazoo

Wax Paper Kazoo

cardboard tubes (toilet paper center)
3″ square of wax paper
rubber band
pencil or small nail
Place the wax paper square over one end of the cardboard tube, secure with the rubber band.  Do not pull the rubber band too tight or the tube will collapse.  Using a sharp pencil or nail, poke a small hole in the center of the wax paper.  Sing or hum into the open end of the kazoo.
Variation:  use the cardboard center from a paper towel roll.  Does the sound stay the same?

DRUMS – Container

As taught in California schools – 1960

coffee can, oatmeal container, or plastic whipped topping container
construction paper or paint
crayons, paint, stickers or other decoration
Paint the outside of your drum (leave top unpainted) and let dry, or cover the outside with construction paper.  Decorate the outside of your drum.

DRUM – Advanced

coffee can or other metal can
thick rubber
lacing – leather, boot shoelace, or heavy string
awl or holepunch

Paint or otherwise decorate the outside of the can, let dry.  Cut two circles of rubber.  Each circle should be 2 inches larger than the top of your drum.
Example:  for a 6 inch top circle, cut two 8 inch circles.
Cut or punch holes all around the edge of the rubber.  (Do not cut slits or your rubber will tear.)  With a rubber circle over the top and the bottom, use your lace to thread them together.
Lacing:  Go through a hole in the top piece of rubber, then go through a hole in the bottom piece of rubber.  Go back to the top piece of rubber and go through the hole next to the one you laced, then go back to the bottom piece and go through the hole next to the one you laced.  Keep lacing until all the holes are laced.
Pull each lace on the side and tighten the rubber until you like the sound.  Play your drum with your hand or make a pair of drumsticks.  Try striking your drum top in different places.  Is the sound the same?



1/4 inch dowel
2 large wooden beads (optional)
wood glue (if using beads)

Simple drumsticks:  cut dowels 8 to 10 inches long, sand ends.
Advanced drumsticks:  cut dowel 8 to 10 inches long.  Place wood glue on one end of your drumstick and attach a wooden bead.  Do the same for your second drumstick.  Let dry.  Play your drum by striking the wooden bead on the top of the drum.


1 milk carton, quart or half gallon
.   or a shoebox (with lid), cut a hole in one end for cardboard core
1 paper towel cardboard core
3 or 4 rubber bands, cut open

Slide the cardboard core into the milk carton top opening.  Cover the outside with construction paper and decorate.  Cut a round or oval opening in the side of the milk carton.  Staple each rubber band end across the opening to imitate strings.




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