DIY Musical Instruments to Craft at Home

 by Miranda Rex, MA, MT-BC

At the start of the pandemic, Heart and Harmony hosted a virtual DIY Band Camp where we created homemade instruments using everyday materials and made music together. While we won’t be having DIY Band Camp this summer, that doesn’t mean DIY instruments cannot be made! There are a ton of resources out there, but I’ll provide my favorite videos — which I based my camp sessions on — for everyone to follow at their own pace. 

Instruments to be created:

  • Paper plate ocean drum
  • Bottle maraca
  • Box guitar
  • Ganza shaker
  • Coffee can drum
  • Paper plate tambourine
  • Singing straws – aka pan flute 

Materials needed:

  • 4-5 paper plates – these can be white or colored. 
  • Duct tape – a unique color or pattern is the most fun!
  • Liquid glue and/or a glue stick
  • Non-toxic paint and/or markers and/or crayons for decorating
  • Dried beans or rice – these will be used to fill some of our instruments. 
  • 1 plastic or glass bottle with lid
  • Cardboard box – small to medium sized
  • Rubber bands – large size (like these!)
  • Toilet paper roll(s) 
  • Ribbon, lace, yarn, and/or twine – color of your choice!
  • Construction paper 
  • Coffee can – regular cans are ok too for little hands as long as edges aren’t too sharp
  • Cling wrap or a plastic bag
  • Hole punch – or anything that can poke a hole in the plates
  • Jingle bells – ¾ or 1 in.
  • Pipe cleaners or twist ties
  • 6-8 straws – colorful ones are fun!
  • Double sided tape – regular tape is ok too!

Here we go!

Paper Plate Ocean Drum

  • YouTube Link — https://youtu.be/KuIiCXuBCuk
  • Adjustments — I recommend using your duct tape to secure the plates rather than staples. It adds more color and keeps fingers and hands safe from scrapes! 
  • Don’t forget to decorate to your heart’s content with paint, markers, or crayons!
DIY bottle shaker

Bottle Maraca

  • YouTube Link — https://youtu.be/fZjywurvgEE
  • Adjustments — ribbon and frills aren’t required to put inside the bottle; those are just extra! 
  • You can use construction paper, duct tape, or paint to decorate your bottle!
DIY box guitar

Box Guitar

  • YouTube Link — https://youtu.be/U8caCXXgJfY
  • Adjustments — doesn’t have to be a shoe box! A small-medium sized box will work. You can also leave out the “stem” of the guitar. 
  • Rather than inserting a crayon under the rubber bands, you can cut a straw in half and place it on either end of the guitar. 
Ygritte, a black and white dog, sits on the ground politely while wearing a DIY pan flute around her neck.

Ganza Shaker

  • YouTube Link — https://youtu.be/YOZgbBTU76g
  • Adjustments — instead of putting glue on the edges of the construction paper, you can simply secure the paper with your duct tape. 
  • You can also wrap the yarn/twine around the shaker and secure it with glue to make a more authentic ganza. 
DIY coffee can drum

Coffee Can Drum

  • YouTube Link — https://youtu.be/4tWhavtpKx0
  • Adjustments — instead of using balloons to cover the top of the drum, use cling wrap or a plastic bag, then cover it with a piece of construction paper the size of the can. Secure with duct tape!
  • Construction paper can be used to decorate, along with duct tape, markers, or crayons. 
DIY plate tambourine

Paper Plate Tambourine

  • YouTube Link — https://youtu.be/q6Is0Ez0pzQ
  • Adjustments — You can use one plate and fold it in half instead of taping two plates together! 
Ygritte, a black and white dog, sits on the ground politely while wearing a DIY pan flute around her neck.
Ygritte, a black and white dog, sits on the ground politely while wearing a DIY pan flute around her neck.

Singing Straws (Pan Flute)

  • YouTube Link — https://youtu.be/LntE-mzCf0w
  • Adjustments — I used my leftover yarn/twine and double sided tape to create a wearable lanyard
  • Feel free to wrap some pipe cleaners around the top as well to give it more pizazz! 

In our virtual camp we also took a look at the history of these instruments so we could have a greater understanding of their cultural and historical relevance. Here are some links with a brief history of each:

     There are many other DIY instruments out there, and some of them are even linked in the videos linked above. They are so fun to make together on a rainy day or when boredom strikes. Be sure to have a jam session when you’re finished!

    Any special DIY instruments y’all have made and loved?

    Miranda Rex, MA, MT-BC