Grade 8 Homemade musical instruments

Viviana Nielsen

Students in Grade 8 Science are building their own D.I.Y. musical instrument to apply all their knowledge of sound.

The guidelines were: to mostly use recycled or sustainable materials; to be cheap to build, sturdy, safe, and visually appealing; and to be able to play a minimum of 3 notes of increasing pitch.

Here are a few of the more successful results!

I used my knowledge of sound to make the Boogie Bottle work. I know that for any wind instrument to work you need an input section (the section for the air to enter the instrument). If you look at a trumpet this is a mouthpiece; if you look at a saxophone this is the reed. I needed to use materials that were recyclable and easy to find at home. A straw was the simple solution, and it worked!

But I also needed an output section for my instrument, in my mind this would be the part of the instrument that creates different notes and be the “foundation” of the instrument. But how would I create these notes? After researching other wind instruments, the answer became quite simple - use a valve or create a hole that when covered up, creates a different sound. This happens because the longer the instrument (longer the air travels), the lower the pitch, so the lower down the holes were (that were being pressed on) the lower the pitch would be.

I had my instrument figured out, but how would the air get from the input to the output? This was an easy answer, use a container and insert both straws in there… but the sound just goes away when you blow into it! The answer to this was to find a material that echoes sound and not absorb it (like plastic). The only material I could find in my home that would work was a balloon, I ended up putting this on the top of my container and having the air stream bounce off it into the straw. And there was my instrument, completed.

- Nathan

And here is Ben's drum kit in action.

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