Trash to Homemade Musical Instruments. A Kinder Note to the Earth

Creating a Musical Instrument through Trash to Treasure Old Water Glasses

Creating a Homemade Musical Instrument through Trash to Treasure Old Water Glasses

Welcome guest poster,  Jakob Barry!

Trash and music go hand in hand.  In fact, rumor has it that even Sesame Street trash monger, Oscar the Grouch, was named after a famous American folk singer!  It should come as no surprise then that making musical instruments from trash can be realized easily.

The simple fact is broken parts of just about anything are everywhere and have so much potential when it comes to making sounds that can be thrust into the musical ensemble. Furthermore, the process of making homemade musical instruments from trash teaches about how to reuse objects and not just recycle them.

With some creative thinking and ingenuity your family and friends could put on a great show and chances are if someone makes their own homemade musical instruments, especially out of trash, they’ll likely hold on to it for a long time.

Here are a few ideas with varying ranges of difficulty on how to make your own homemade musical instruments from trash:

PVC Plastic Pipe Flute

If you find PVC piping (or any other for that matter) in the regular trash, it is a great material for making flutes.  Follow these instruction on  how to make a simple Irish Flute out of PVC.

Anna, here.  PVC pipes also make a great xylophone.  See here on how to make your own  recycled from PVC xylophone.  A great family activity.

Shoe Box Guitar

The shoe box/rubber band makeshift guitar is a  great project for kids.   Cut a hole in the center of a shoe box and place rubber bands around the long sides, but be sure to cross over the hole.  More complicated makeshift guitars can be made with different types of bodies like tin canisters that allow attaching real strings and make more authentic sounds.

Anna, here.  For our teachers, here is an easy lesson plan surround making a makeshift shoe box guitar.

Pots and Pans Drums

Either play pots and pans directly on the ground or do the following:

  • find a large flat piece of wood;
  • measure the diameters of the pots and cut holes in the wood a half inch wider;
  • fit the pots face down through the hole from the underbelly of the board;
  • place durable mesh (an example is tennis court netting) under the pot opening;
  • secure the mesh to the board around it but don’t make it too tight as the pots need breathing space to produce hearty sounds; and
  • rest the whole piece on legs at each end and start practicing.

Anna, here.  A great place to get old pots and pans is a thrift or second hand store. You don’t want to even count how many times I threw my pots and pans on the floor to amuse a toddler while busy in the kitchen.  Wooden spoons are great too for drum sticks.

Glass, Plastic and Metal Containers to Homemade Shakers

Consider using glass, plastic or metal containers to make homemade shakers. Take whatever small items you can find like buttons, sand, or even small pebbles and place them in sealed glass, plastic, or metal containers of different sizes and shake away!

Anna, here.  Don’t forget old glass containers or plain old glasses.  Watch this video on how to create a xylophone using every day glasses. I seemed to be stuck on xylophones for some reason.

Hub Cap Tambourine

Did you know that hub caps make great tambourines? Decide what you want to use for the metal jingles around the perimeter. Drill holes around the edges of the hub cap and attach the jingles spacing them accordingly.

Anna, here.  You know how much I hate throwing away those school binders at the end of the year.  I  try and recycle everything I can.  Perhaps you can use the rings from all those old school binders  for the metal jingles? .

Also, check out this hub cap banjo video.  Now this ingenious!

Drain Pipe Rain Stick

Have you ever considered making a drain pipe rain stick?  Seal one side whether metal or plastic.  Since we’re talking trash, find small items to place inside the drain pipe that will produce the desired effect. Seal the other side and let it rain!

Oven Racks, Wood Hangers, Tin Cans Percussion Instruments

Hang and space a range of items accordingly such as oven racks, metal or wood hangers and tin cans of different sizes across a long poll or coat rack. Find some sticks and start clanging.

Tire Drums

Attach materials like wood, fiber glass, or thin metal sheeting with nails, bolts, etc., around one side of a tire making that the face. When complete, decide on a good height and connect the tire to two posts on a stand at a 45 degree angle.

Anna, here.  Check out this video of an old tire made into a kick drum practice pad.  Also, you can make a Taiko drum (big drum) using a bald tire.

Trash Cans Drums and Cymbals

Flip over some old style metal trash cans to create drums.  Or use the covers for crash cymbals by drilling a hole in the middle and securing to a makeshift stand.

Metal Pipes Wind Chimes

To make wind chimes from metal pipes, cut the metal pipes of varying sizes to different lengths to get diverse keys. Drill holes in the ends, attach string, and hang from a central joining head.

Anna here. I was thinking old metal spoons and forks would be nice too too. What do you think?

Plastic soda and old Hose Pieces

Anna, here ( Sorry, Jakob, I just can’t resist butting in. You just have stirred my creative juices.  I bet you feel the same way.)  I wanted to add one more item to Jakob’s amazing and creative article.  How about making a trumpet from your old hose and a soda bottle?  Pretty amazing, huh?  Watch this video and you too can be creating your own trumpet from that old hose and soda bottle stored in your garage.

Finally, remember: there are so many ways of making your own homemade musical instruments from trash.  The internet has a treasure to trash trove of information. For inspiration, see how others are creating instruments from ordinary trash. Experiment, ask questions and be proud of your work!

The final Anna:

  • Have you made your own homemade musical instruments?  If so, tell me how you made them.
  • Have you used trash to make homemade toys or presents?
  • Don’t forget to check out Green Talk’s reused tips.  Do you have a reuse story to tell?
  • Can you relate to Oscar the Grouch and his love of trash?

Jakob Barry writes for He covers various topics including recycling, green home renovations and electrical safety in the home.

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  1. 3

    Lily says

    Wonderful ideas you have here! Saving the environment, while teaching the kids to be creative and musical. I’d skip on the instruments needing water, though. They have a tendency to be breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Or you can just make sure to clean them out every after use or add in glass caps!

    Wholesale Beads

  2. 4

    cg says



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