How to Make a Musical Instrument With Different Pitches

bottles and phials image by Maria Brzostowska from

Making a musical instrument is a fun and educational project. You can even make a functional instrument that produces different pitches. Participating in this type of project can help students to learn about musical instrument families as well as the science involved in the production of sound. You can make a musical instrument that produces different pitches by using a few basic supplies and investing a little time into your work.

Empty a collection of bottles. You can use different shapes and sizes or you can use one type of bottle. The bottles can be plastic or glass.

Fill the bottles with varying amounts of water.

Rest your bottom lip against the lip of a bottle and blow gently across it to produce a pitch. Blow across each bottle in order to get an idea of the pitches that you have.

Pour more water into some of the bottles or empty some of the water out of the bottles in order to vary the pitches. The more water in a bottle, the higher the pitch will be, and the less water in the bottle, the lower the pitch will be. Experiment until you get three to five pitches in a row (such as C, D, E, F and G). You can use a keyboard or guitar as a reference point in order to get your pitches where they need to be.

Add food colouring to the bottles once you have the right pitches. Use a different colour for each pitch.

Tape the bottles together if you want using duct tape. This works well if you only have three or four bottles.

Play simple songs on your bottle instrument. If you can get three bottles with pitches C, D and E, you can play Mary Had a Little Lamb: E, D, C, D, E, E, E D, D, D, E, G, G, E, D, C, D, E, E, E, E, D, D, E, D, C

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