Sixth Grade Music
Instruments to Make at Home
- 1. Make a musical
instrument from items found around the home. Small purchased items may
be purchased if needed.
- 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
- 3. The instrument and log
should be completed at home and brought into school on the due date.
- 4. Due date
- 1. Create a one-page
PowerPoint or Keynote project outlining the instrument and its
creation. Include a photo.
- 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.
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.
(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. Get ideas for your
instrument invention from:
- a. Books at the libraries
- b. Mr. Miller’s music
- c. The Virtual Museum of
Music Inventions http://www.musicinventions.org
- d. Anywhere!
- 2. Use recycled materials
from home. Purchasing an item is
acceptable as long as it is not extravagant.
- 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
- b. The size of your
instrument will affect its pitch.
- c. The materials you use
will affect its tone quality.
- 3. Make your instrument.
Use Elmer’s glue, nails or tape to hold it together.
- 4. Play your instrument.
Can you improve the sound? Can you make a resonator (sound box or echo
chamber) to increase the volume?
- 5. Decorate your
instrument. Use paint, glitter or other items.
- 6. Name your instrument.
- 7. Keep a log:
- a. How you got the idea
for your instrument.
- b. What materials you
- c. The process you used
to build. If you had help identify them.
- d. How it produces sound.
- e. Classify your
instrument by family: Percussion, woodwind, brass, strings or keyboard.
- f. Be sure to use these
- i. pitch,
- ii. volume,
- iii. tone quality.
- 8. Use PowerPoint or
Keynote to present your information. One page only! But, include all
- 9. Organize your log into
short paragraphs. Be sure to include:
- a. Name of Instrument
- b. Materials used
- c. Process
- d. How to play (how do
you change pitch, volume or tone)?
- e. Classification
- 10. Take a photo of your
instrument. You can do this at a school computer.
- 11. Make an audio
recording of yourself playing the instrument. You can do this at a
- 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.
- 2. Try a prayer drum or
- a. Cut the ends off 2
balloons. Stretch them over 2 large coffee lids.
- 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
- c. Attach the 2 coffee
lids together with tape, enclosing the pencil.
- 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.
- e. Discuss effect of
tightness of balloons on the pitch and volume of sound. Discuss
applications to other instruments eg) tambours, drums etc.
- 3. Water jars.
- 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.
- 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?
- c. Experiment with
identical containers too!
- 4. Try some bottle
- 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