Homemade instruments can be made from basic materials, including PVC pipe, water glasses, plywood, rubber bands, glass and copper tubing. Many common homemade instruments belong in the string, wind and percussion families. The pitch of these instruments is determined by the length or amount of material used. They can be designed to play a variety of notes, including the conventional chromatic scale.
You can make a flute from PVC pipe. PVC is a material commonly used in plumbing. Cut a piece of PVC pipe that's long enough to fit your hands to create the body of the flute. Drill holes into the body for a mouthpiece and finger holes. Different pitches are created by blowing air over the mouthpiece while covering different holes.
Turn water glasses into pitched instruments by filling them with water. Experiment by starting with a full crystal glass of water. Run your finger over the rim to create a pitched humming sound. Drink some of the water and notice how the pitch changes. By arranging several glasses with different amounts of water in a row, you can make a musical scale.
Long pieces of copper tubing have a very low, almost indistinguishable pitch when struck. However, if you cut them into shorter pieces, around 18 inches or less, they can make clear, bell-like pitches. As you cut each tube shorter, the pitch will raise. By arranging these copper tubes on a wooden frame suspended by rubber bands, you can create a homemade xylophone.
A dulcimer consists primarily of strings and a sounding box. A sounding box can be made from thin wood that easily vibrates and amplifies the sound of the strings. Use guitar strings or use rubber bands as strings. Pin different size strings over the sounding box for each particular pitch.