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Marvelous Music Makers

Diana MacKenzie

As you may already know, we love using found materials for projects in The Art Studio. I was recently going through some old photographs and found some fun projects from the past few years where we played with sound and music-making, so I thought I’d share with you a musical instrument round-up.

For the Every Day Art project Magical Music Makers we offered a mix of found materials for guests to make their own instruments. We used yarn, string, wire, small plastic containers, straws, bottle caps, corks, tape, glue, wood scraps and other plastic and cardboard pieces.

These drums are from oatmeal containers, the drum sticks are pencils and cap erasers and the  bell stick is a paper towel tube. This blog post by Mom Junction has a good tutorial for making your own bell stick, and some other fun instrument ideas.

For one Cinco de Mayo, our intern Luna Goldberg showed guests how to make maracas and castanets. For the maracas, we ordered lots of small plastic snap top vials and tiny bottles and Luna dyed rice using food coloring and liquid water colors.

With a plastic funnel or paper cone, pour the different colors of rice and beads into the vial, snap it shut and shake. Instant maracas!

For castanets, we prepared strips of cardboard and collected lots of metal bottle caps (you could also use buttons). Decorate the cardboard with markers and sticky-back foam shapes. Hot glue the metal caps to both ends of the cardboard, fold it in half and you’ve got a set of snappin’ castanets.

In addition to the drums and bell stick, we have a few musical instruments in the Studio for guests to play whenever the mood strikes: a thumb piano, baby xylophone by Plan Toys, and child’s glockenspiel by Sonor.

During the Marvelous Music Makers project, we even turned our tree into a musical instrument!

With fishing line we hung screws, bolts and extra framing hardware from the branches that jingled as people walked by, or if someone gently played it. The fishing line tangles easily, so hang them with space in between to prevent them from getting snagged as often.

I hope we inspired you to make a little music with your family and friends this weekend!


Diana, smiling wearing an orange scarf and brown shirt.

Diana MacKenzie

Public Art Program Educator from 2007-2016, Diana has a BFA in Printmaking from Syracuse University and creates mixed-media works inspired by her travels, combining her interests in printmaking and sculpture. She received her M.A.T. from Mount Holyoke College in June 2017, and continues teaching visual arts to children and adults.