How to Make a Musical Instrument With a Cardboard Tube

Written by erica starks
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Making a simple percussion instrument is an ideal way of engaging children in music without spending a large amount of money on professional equipment. The activity of making homemade shakers is one that involves minimal time and mess, yet reaps hours of musical exploration and creativity. The finished product can even be personalised depending upon preference; in this case, a single cardboard tube.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Paper towel or toilet paper cardboard tube
  • Dried black or pinto beans
  • Construction paper
  • Rubber bands
  • White glue

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  1. 1

    Peel away any shreds of toilet paper or paper towels from the cardboard tube(s). This will prepare the tube for decoration and personalisation.

  2. 2

    Increase the durability of the construction paper by gluing two sheets together. After the glue has dried (about five to 10 minutes), cut the double-thick construction paper into four squares, making sure that each square is equal in width and length.

  3. 3

    Place one cut square of construction paper on top of one end of the cardboard tube. Smooth down the edges of the square around the top of the tube as if you were making an airtight lid. Hold your hands around the construction paper "lid" until its shape holds easily.

  4. 4

    Wrap two thick rubber bands around the construction paper lid so that it ceases to shift around when the tube is lifted or set down again. If necessary, a small amount of glue can be applied to directly underneath the areas the rubber bands grasp the paper to ensure they are firmly secured.

  5. 5

    Pour a handful (no more than 20) of dried beans into the open end of the cardboard tube. After all the beans have been placed into the tube, secure the open end using the same technique outlined in Step 4.

  6. 6

    Wait until the glue has dried before playing your new cardboard bean shaker.

Tips and warnings

  • You may decorate the cardboard tubes using acrylic paints, markers and even glitter to personalise the finished musical instrument.
  • Using sand or pebbles instead of dried beans will result in a slightly different sound when the finished instrument is shaken. This can be great for variety if a larger group of people will be shaking their instruments together.
  • Adding too many dried beans to the cardboard tube may result in prematurely perforating the construction paper lids.
  • Shaking the cardboard tube before all glue has allowed to dry can cause the lids to shift or even fall off the ends of the tube.

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