Tag Archives: household instruments

Instruments That You May Already Have (Day Eleven of Homemade Music)

What do you really need to make music? A $300 guitar? An upright piano? While I would encourage you to make an instrument purchase at some point if you really want to start playing music, it turns out you probably don’t actually need that to get started. Just look at what you already have!

You have a whole percussion section in your house:

October 2014 005Pots, pans, spoons, 5 gallon buckets, and tin cans can all stand in for drums. Try boxes of pasta, oats, or nuts for shakers (or dry some gourds for the same purpose). Your options are fairly limitless to get going on rhythms! (The thing in the front is some sort of funny bamboo decorative piece… J likes to use it for a washboard.)

You probably have bells in your house:

October 2014 006(An upturned Kitchen Aid makes a very nice ring when held up and donged upon with a spoon. Try different sized metal bowls for varying pitches.)

You may have kid’s instruments laying around that may actually be passable for playing (like this set that we have):

October 2014 007

And you may have real adult instruments that have been laying around, neglected for years. Pull them out and dust them off. Maybe you have a relative’s old instrument sitting in storage. Maybe you have a yard sale instrument or a consignment shop find like this one:

October 2014 008We picked this pretty little thing up for $60 at a local variety shop. It’s actually got a beautiful resonant tone, and far cheaper than buying new. I also inherited my grandfather’s violin, which turned out to be a rather nice one, and my mom let us use her old clarinet. There are probably old instruments lying around somewhere in your circles that are just begging to be picked up and played again.

Think about other possibilities in your home- do you have crystal glasses? Try filling them to varying heights with water and lightly running a wet finger around the top in a continuous circle to make them sing out clear, high notes. How about rubber bands? Stretch them and pluck them with a finger to experiment with how different tensions produce different pitches. Go, explore, be creative, and see what you can come up with.

Finally, the most obvious instrument of all- YOU!

dancingj(My dear mom in law, little J, and me dancing at a wedding two years ago.)

You’ve got feet for tapping, hands for clapping, and a voice for singing. Think about the possibilities that this instrument- your very own body- can have. Beat-boxing, finger drumming, a variety of percussive swishes, slaps, claps, and thumps, and a range of vocal possibilities from pop to folk to country to rap to opera. You, yourself, may be the most versatile instrument you will ever own.

What do you have laying around that can be used as an instrument?