Music time!

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Getting your kids to design, and make, their own musical instruments keeps them busy and promotes the development of fine motor, creative and language skills and scientific understanding.

What you need:

  • Recycled cardboard boxes of different sizes

  • Kitchen towel rolls

  • Elastic bands of different thicknesses

  • Paper clips/buttons/rice/dried beans or lentils (to put inside shakers, rainsticks etc.)

  • Recycled yogurt pots, cottage cheese pots with lids, or other similar pots (Make sure that these are empty and have been washed out)

  • Greaseproof/wax paper/ or rubber cut from balloons

    Top tip: Use this to make a skin on a drum by stretching a circle of the material across the top of a container and holding it in place with an elastic band.

  • Pencils/straws/short pieces of dowel etc.

  • Scissors

  • Materials for decorating instruments with; e.g. colouring pens, pencils, paints, recycled wrapping paper, construction paper, bits of fabric

  • Glue (Top tip: White craft glue dries clear)

  • Tape

What to do:

  1. Look at some pictures of instruments, videos of them being played, and/or real instruments. Think about how the instruments are played and how different sounds are made.

  2. Design your own instrument. It can be anything you want, e.g. a guitar, a drum, a shaker, or something completely original.

  3. Make your instrument from the materials that you have collected together.

  4. Play your instrument. Make up your own music, or, play along to your favourite song. Have fun!

Be a science detective

  • Play your instrument. Can you think of a way to improve the sound it makes?

  • Can you change the pitch of your instrument (make it sound higher or lower)?

  • Investigate some different ways of making musical instruments. Make predictions about how you think might sound and test them out.

  • Make a drum.

What happens to the pitch (sound) if you stretch the skin tighter, or, you use a wider container for the drum's base?

  • Make a stringed instrument.

Experiment with ways of making higher and lower notes. Think about the length and thickness of the elastic bands you use and how much they are stretched.

  • Make straw panpipes or buzzers.

What happens to the sound when you change the length of the straws? Are there any other ways of changing the sound?

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