Homemade Xylophones

Updated November 21, 2016

Usually made of a row of metal bars descending in size, xylophones can produce a wide variety of notes. You need only two mallets to play a xylophone, therefore it takes less coordination to play than the piano, but it produces similar notes and music. Because of this, a xylophone may be a good instrument to start learning music with. Xylophones can be expensive, but you don't have to purchase one. You can make simple xylophones from household items.

Choose five 600ml glass bottles for your xylophone. They should all be the same type of bottle. Musician and music educator Phil Tulga recommends using Sobe bottles, but glass Arizona tea bottles or other similar beverage bottles will do, so long as it is made of glass. Plastic and metal will not resonate.

Rinse and dry all of the bottles with a little dish soap to remove any beverage residue. If you rinse your bottles right after finishing your drink you'll need to rinse less. Peel off the labels and scrub away adhesive residue, as well. Paper may mute the sound when you are finished.

Make your instrument permanent and decorative by painting your bottles with glass paint and tying ribbons around the necks. Decorate the bottles with names, musical notes, animals and other symbols you desire.

Use a measuring cup to fill each bottle with water. Put 561ml in the first bottle, 13 in the second, 11 in the third, 8 in the fourth and 6 in the fifth for a five-bottle xylophone. Use room-temperature water. Hot or cold water could make your notes go sharp or flat.

Make music by tapping the sides of the bottles with a wooden spoon. A metal spoon will do, but will produce sharp, high sounds. Wood will produce more resonant tones.

Things You'll Need

  • 600ml/20 oz. glass bottles
  • Water
  • Dish soap
  • Measuring cup
  • Ribbons and glass paint
  • Wooden spoon
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