Projects for Kids on How to Make Musical Instruments

Hitting a drum creates vibrations that reverberate through the instrument.

Making musical instruments is a project that is educational and gives students a lesson in acoustics in a fun and entertaining way. Kids can make instruments from virtually any material they can find around the home. It is important to guide students through each project and help them learn the basics of acoustics.


Before starting any project that teaches kids to create musical instruments you should begin with a preparatory project on musical acoustics. Children need to know the basics of how sound production occurs if they are going to create successful musical instruments. Explain that sound production occurs by vibrations and that hitting, bowing or quickly moving objects can create vibrations. For the project, ask the kids to find several different materials and methods of creating vibrations. Ask them to be creative and find at least three ways to produce a sound on a specified instrument. The instrument could be as simple as their desk, or a can of soda.


Ask students to work on a project that helps to determine how materials used affect the sound of an instrument. Have them experiment with a variety of different objects. There needs to be a variety of materials to choose from including steel, metal, wood, paper, cardboard, plastic and even fabrics. Use the methods of sound production from the acoustics lesson to produce sounds.


Have students create several different types of mallets. Bring a variety of dowels to the classrooms that are at least 2 feet long. They should be thick enough to be able to take a beating when the students are finished designing their mallets. Bring fishing line, string, yarn and even bouncing balls to attach to the end of the sticks. Incorporate the principles learned from the acoustics lesson and the materials created from the materials lesson by having them hit each object with different mallet types. Ask them to describe the difference in sound between objects.


The final project should deal with strings and how the length of the string will affect the highness or lowness of the pitch. Ask students to make a hypothesis ahead of time to determine if a shorter string will have a higher or lower pitch. Bring in several boxes; shoeboxes are excellent for this project. Have the students cut a triangle into the box and place holes opposite each other. Have students attach the strings to the holes moving from the smallest part of the triangle to the largest part. This will create several different lengths of strings. When it is finished let the students experiment with plucking the strings to see how the pitch changes.


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