How to Make Instruments Out of Recycled Materials

Updated April 17, 2017

Many items that you would normally throw away after they are empty can be recycled to make craft projects. Save these items instead of tossing them into a trash bin and turn them into homemade musical instruments. Use the musical instruments you make to create songs with family and friends.

Measure, mark and cut a piece of construction paper that is 4 1/4 inches by 5 1/2 inches.

Spread a thin layer of craft glue onto one side of the construction paper with a paintbrush.

Cut a 3 1/2-inch square of waxed paper.

Wrap the piece of waxed paper over one end of the tube and secure it in place with a rubber band.

Decorate the outside of the tube with stickers. Place the open end of the instrument over your mouth and talk or hum to make the waxed paper buzz.

Remove four large buttons, each approximately 1 1/2 inches in diameter, from items of clothing that you are going to discard.

Cut two strips of craft foam, 1/2 inch wide and 1 1/2 inches long, with scissors.

Secure one end of the foam strip to the bottom of one button with hot glue. Hot glue the other end of the foam strip to the bottom of another button.

Glue the other foam strip to the other two buttons in the same way.

Cut four 6-inch pieces of 2mm elastic cord.

Thread the pieces of elastic cord through the two holes on each button that are closest to the foam strip. Take one end of the cord and thread it from the outside of the button, to the inside through one hole. Then take that same end and thread it from the inside to the outside through the second hole.

Tie a square knot with the two ends of the elastic cord so there is now a loop on the outside of each button to slip your fingers through. See Resources for step-by-step instructions on making a square knot.

Slip your thumb through the loop on the outside of one button. Slip your index finger through the loop on the other button. Do this on both hands. Clap the buttons together, by moving your thumbs and index fingers, to make a beat.

Wash an empty coffee can and its lid with warm soapy water. Dry the can and lid with a dish towel.

Measure the height of the coffee can with a plastic measuring tape. Wrap the plastic measuring tape around the outside of the coffee can and note this measurement.

Cut a piece of construction paper as wide as the can is tall and long enough to wrap around the can. Cut 1-inch strips of the other colour construction paper as long as the first paper is wide.

Spread a thin layer of craft glue to the back of the strips with a paintbrush and attach them to the larger piece of construction paper.

Spread a thin layer of craft glue to the back of the large, and now striped, piece of construction paper. Wrap the construction paper around the coffee can with the glue-covered side against the can.

Snap the lid on the coffee can. Either the plastic side or the metal side can serve as a drum head.

Wash two empty baby food jars and their lids in warm soapy water. Dry the jars and lids with a dish towel.

Pour dried beans into each jar until it is half-full.

Screw the lids onto the jars.

Decorate the outsides of the jars with stickers.

Things You'll Need

  • Empty toilet paper tube
  • Construction paper
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Craft glue
  • Paintbrush
  • Waxed paper
  • Rubber band
  • Stickers
  • 4 large buttons
  • Craft foam
  • Hot glue gun
  • 2mm elastic cord
  • Empty coffee can and lid
  • Plastic measuring tape
  • Water
  • Dish soap
  • Dish towel
  • 2 sheets of construction paper in contrasting colours
  • 2 baby food jars
  • Dried beans
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About the Author

Based in Ypsilanti, Mich., Ainsley Patterson has been a freelance writer since 2007. Her articles appear on various websites. She especially enjoys utilizing her more than 10 years of craft and sewing experience to write tutorials. Patterson is working on her bachelor's degree in liberal arts at the University of Michigan.