Sixth Grade Music

Instruments to Make at Home


Assignment: 


At Home:

  1. 1. Make a musical instrument from items found around the home. Small purchased items may be purchased if needed.
  2. 2. Maintain a log of the process, the materials used, a brief description of how to play the instrument and a classification of what instrument family it belongs and why.
  3. 3. The instrument and log should be completed at home and brought into school on the due date.
  4. 4. Due date


In School:

  1. 1. Create a one-page PowerPoint or Keynote project outlining the instrument and its creation. Include a photo.
  2. 2. Students will have one music class period to take a photo and create the PowerPoint (Keynote) page (the more thorough your log, the easier the PowerPoint will). You may record your instrument and include a sound or video file on the page. If more time is needed you may need to come in after school.


Grading: Each student will be given a grade based on the instruments sound, effort put into the project, creativity, the log of events and the PowerPoint (Keynote) page. This assignment is an advanced version of an earlier assignment from grade 3.  In turn, the results of this project need to be more sophisticated, creative and sound better.


Classifications (from easiest to make - to the hardest to make)

Percussion Family: An instrument that produces a sound when hit, shaken, rubbed, scraped, or by any other action which sets the object into vibration.

String Family: An instrument that makes sound from vibrating strings.

Woodwind family: An instrument where a vibrating column of air produces a sound.

Brass Family: An instrument that produces sound by the vibration of a persons lips together with a vibrating column of air.

  1. 1. Get ideas for your instrument invention from:
    1. a. Books at the libraries
    2. b. Mr. Miller’s music class
    3. c. The Virtual Museum of Music Inventions http://www.musicinventions.org
    4. d. Anywhere!


    1. 2. Use recycled materials from home. Purchasing an item is acceptable as long as it is not extravagant.
    2. a. Heavy cardboard tubes, wooden boxes, metal tubes, plastic tubes, scrap wood, metal scraps, old guitar strings, old pot covers, flower pots, plastic cups, fishing wire, rice, beans
    3. b. The size of your instrument will affect its pitch.
    4. c. The materials you use will affect its tone quality.


    1. 3. Make your instrument. Use Elmer’s glue, nails or tape to hold it together.


    1. 4. Play your instrument. Can you improve the sound? Can you make a resonator (sound box or echo chamber) to increase the volume?


    1. 5. Decorate your instrument. Use paint, glitter or other items.


    1. 6. Name your instrument.


    1. 7. Keep a log:
    2. a. How you got the idea for your instrument.
    3. b. What materials you used.
    4. c. The process you used to build. If you had help identify them.
    5. d. How it produces sound. 
    6. e. Classify your instrument by family: Percussion, woodwind, brass, strings or keyboard.
    7. f. Be sure to use these words: 
      1. i. pitch, 
      2. ii. volume, 
      3. iii. tone quality. 


In School:

      1. 8. Use PowerPoint or Keynote to present your information. One page only! But, include all information.


      1. 9. Organize your log into short paragraphs. Be sure to include:
    1. a. Name of Instrument
    2. b. Materials used
    3. c. Process
    4. d. How to play (how do you change pitch, volume or tone)?
    5. e. Classification


    1. 10. Take a photo of your instrument. You can do this at a school computer.


    1. 11. Make an audio recording of yourself playing the instrument. You can do this at a school computer.



    1. 1. Cutting the ends of straws in a "V" shape, flattening them and then blowing hard will produce interesting sounds! Experiment with the length of straws. Discuss relationship between length and pitch.  Discuss how length of air columns affects sound in things like recorders etc.


    1. 2. Try a prayer drum or ape drum: 
    2. a. Cut the ends off 2 balloons. Stretch them over 2 large coffee lids. 
    3. b. Tape a pencil to the back of one, to act as a handle. Attach a string to the pencil and on each end of the string, place a small bead. (Make sure the bead is placed in the right spot, so that when it swings around, it will hit the balloon). 
    4. c. Attach the 2 coffee lids together with tape, enclosing the pencil. 
    5. d. Put pencil between palms and rub together. The string and beads should swing around to hit the balloons on either side, producing a great sound.
    6. e. Discuss effect of tightness of balloons on the pitch and volume of sound. Discuss applications to other instruments eg) tambours, drums etc.


    1. 3. Water jars. 
    2. a. Find a collection of jars and experiment until you can create the notes d r m f s l and then paint the water level on the outside so you will know next time.
    3. b. Get the kids to arrange the jars in order from lowest to highest pitch. Tap jars and play "Mary had a little lamb" or "Twinkle little star" etc. Discuss the effect of depth of water, container size and shape, glass thickness, etc. How do they affect the pitch?
    4. c. Experiment with identical containers too!


    1. 4. Try some bottle maracas!
    2. a. Fill drink bottles with different objects, pens and pencils, buttons, rice, etc. Try ping-pong balls - cut a drink container in half, put the balls in and re-tape, decorating the container. It's amazing how many kids can't work out how the balls got in there! Talk about volume and texture of sound.