10 DIY instruments for family jam night

When the weather’s icky it can seem easiest to resign an empty afternoon to the television or video games. But instead of screentime, why not try bringing color and creativity into your kids’ day in a creative, musical way? When it’s gloomy outside that means it’s a perfect day to turn your living room into a concert hall and put on a performance your whole family will remember using these ten DIY instruments!


1. Coffee Can Bongo Drums

The heart and soul of any ensemble is the percussion; your family band is no different! Someone’s got to keep the beat, and these coffee can bongo drums over at the Maven are a fun, easy and colorful way to do it. Watch the one minute tutorial video that uses only a coffee tin, balloons, packing tape and scissors. For extra fun, try decorating the sides with stickers and paint to personalize your child’s drum, or try different sizes of tins to produce variation in tone.


2. Funnel French Horn

Add a brass section to your family ensemble using plastic items! Making this innovative take on the french horn using a funnel and corrugated pipe may require a quick run to the local hardware store, but it’s really affordable to make and assemble. Just follow the quick instructions over at Savvy Homemade and add a jazzy new instrument to your mini orchestra.

3. Popsicle Stick Harmonica

Help your kids beat rainy day blues with this DIY popsicle stick harmonica from Housing a Forest. On top of being easy to assemble in a matter of minutes, it’s also constructed entirely of materials you probably already have lying around the house. For extra variation in sound, try squeezing the sticks together with increasing levels of force to produce higher and lower tones.


4. Jingle Bell Ankle Bracelet
How about some jewelry that gets your young musicians groovin’? Even the youngest members of the family can enjoy making some noise with the jingle bell ankle bracelet invented by Twodaloo. Besides being fun, colorful and fashionable, it also turns every movement into music and gets the whole family dancing.


5. Rainbow Water Xylophone

Did you or your little musicians know that you’ve already got an instrument stacked neatly in the kitchen cupboard? This simple concept xylophone at Still Playing School helps teach kids about the musical scale as well as how high and low notes are formed. The less water in the glass, the lower the note is. Can you arrange the cups in order to play a song?

6. Cereal Box Guitar

Recycle an old cereal box and paper towel tube into this innovative guitar featured on My Teaching Station. This one is as much fun to make and decorate as it will be to play, and its construction allows an excellent lesson in the laws of acoustics. For a more complex version, try stringing rubber bands of varying thickness across the body of the box.

7. Fancy Shaker Eggs

These shakers detailed on the Mama Smiles blog are a lovely reason to repurpose those plastic eggs the Easter bunny left behind last April! So grab them from the attic and dust them off. With just a bit of colorful electrical tape and decorative sand, you can add them to your family’s band. Besides being the perfect size for tiny palms, they’re also an excellent way for newly budding musicians to explore rhythm and sound. For a stronger noise, try replacing the sand with plastic beads or beans, or even try filling the eggs with different items to produce different sounds.

8. PVC Pipe Xylophone

If you’re feeling up for a challenge and want to add a sturdier instrument to your ensemble, try making one of these PVC pipe xylophones from Frugal Fun 4 Boys and Girls. If you’d like, you can use the exact instructions on the website to measure out the pipes and assemble them into a cohesive scale--but even if you don’t have a musical ear it’s still fun to cut them into different lengths and experiment with their sounds. Besides being a fun and hands-on experiment with tone and pitch, it’s also an excellent lesson in mathematics and measurement.


9. Percussion Music Wall

This percussion music wall invented by Pre K Sharing is an excellent way to let your little musician’s mind run wild with creativity! Brainstorm and experiment with what in the house creates a sound. The wall can be as large or as small as you want, and is the perfect opportunity to encourage your child to think critically and creatively about sounds and objects. For extra fun, try thinking outside the box. With no rules or restraints, you might be surprised at the music your little maestro can make.


10. Straw Pan Flute

Save those straws from your McDonald’s drinks -- they’re a treasure, not trash! Using the instructions at Kidspot as well as some tape, scissors, and a little creativity, you can turn them into a straw pan flute. The melodies it produces are probably just about as sweet as the soda pop you originally sipped through the straws!


Just because the weather’s gloomy doesn’t mean you and your virtuosos have to be as well. Draw back the curtains and get ready to play away the rainy day blues! Make any of these ten innovative instruments and your family band will be ready to put on a performance that calls for a standing ovation.

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