Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Making Instruments-Our Project Continues

Our study of musical instruments has been going really well.  We had some wonderful visitors to class demonstrating their instruments for us. We've also gone on two field trips; one to the local middle school to interact with their band and then to the High School to see their wind ensemble.  On both trips the children were able to use the instruments as well as ask about them and photograph them.   Some of the non-fiction books we have in our classroom show how to make several different instruments.  The children selected a few that they wanted to try and make.  I spent an evening combing Home Depot and the dollar stores and here is what we made.

Using wood blocks we gathered from scraps and metal kick plates, the children made xylophones.  The mallets were made using a pencil, nail hammered into the top and wrapped with duct tape.  

The wood pieces have an indentation in the middle of them to allow the metal to vibrate.  For the wood without this indentation we had to put something under the metal plates.  We experimented with other pencils, small wood pieces and toothpicks.  The small wood pieces worked the best.  

For the horns, I purchased a garden hose and cut it into pieces along with several funnels of various sizes.  This and a roll of duct tape were all we needed.  The children were able to insert the funnels, secure them with duct tape, decide how they want the horn to wrap and secure this with duct tape as well. 

The tricky part came when learning how to blow.  You have to blow like a real horn with pursed lips.  It takes practice.  When my daughter Jessie visited she showed them all how to blow.  Many of them remembered and after several days of trying, they were able to get it. Now into our second week of playing them, they are getting really good at producing different sounds.  They enjoy playing for each other.  We keep them in the classroom where they have access to them.  They can get the horns independently and play them during our long activity time.  Most days the horn players walk around with their horns wrapped over an arm while they play.  

A couple of children chose to make a flute.  We used bamboo and drilled holes into the pieces.  We haven't had much success with the flutes, but they enjoyed the process of making them.

The children also embellished their instruments by painting them with liquid water colors or colorful making tape on the horns.

There certainly is a lot of joyful noise in our classroom these days!


  1. Dana, I was thinking this through the other night and what might help the sound of the xylophone is to glue down two strips of heavy twine, or even shoelaces. The metal slats need to "float" so that they can resonate better. As I think, not sure if it's in season but HomeDepot has window sealing strips. It is a soft rubber and has adhesive on one side, about a quater inch wide. Have fun! It's a nice unit, maybe a little bit noisy :-)

  2. This looks like so much fun! I LOVE the xylophone idea! Thanks for sharing. I'm highlighting your post on my Friday 5 this week!