Ancient Greek Instruments for Kids

Greek god image by Roberto of Tanglewood from

The Greeks had a love for music and as a result, they made it an important part of their lives. To the Ancient Greeks, music was a way of honouring the gods. Some of the instruments the Greeks had included drums, cymbals, pipes and lyres. Children can have all sorts of fun experimenting with ancient Greek instruments.

Shoebox Lyre

A shoebox lyre is one of the easiest instruments to make and play. Children can make it out of an empty shoebox (see Resources). The lyre, or the Lyra, was originally called the chelys (a tortoise shell was used for sound box, and "chelys" is Greek for "tortoise"). By the fifth century, lyres contained anywhere from 9 to 12 strings. The strings were made of animal gut or sinew, but could also be made of linen or hemp, according to Homoecumenicus. The lyre was mainly used to education the young about music, and it was played by amateurs in general, which means children can easily learn to pluck this instrument.

Oatmeal Container Tympanon Drum

The drum is another easy instrument to play for children that was invented by Cybele in Greek mythology--particularly the tympanon, which is a small drum carried in the hand. This is an easy ancient Greek instrument for children to play and can be made with just a few household items, such as empty oatmeal containers (see Resources).


Panpipes are usually made from bamboo reeds or other kinds of hard, hollow wood. Mythology dictates that Pan fell in love with the water nymph Syrinx; she ran away from him, but could not cross the river to Ladon to escape. Syrinx asked Artemis to help her, and right when Pan was about to take her in his arms, Syrinx changed into cattail reeds. As Pan was holding the marsh reeds, he sighed in disappointment and caused the wind to blow through the reeds, creating an enchanting sound. Children can easily make and play panpipes created from straws and clay (see Resources). The pipe can play the notes do, re, me, fa, so, la, ti and do as well as simple songs.

Most recent