YourClassical Children

Build Your Own Xylophone


April 06, 2020

LISTEN — Audio Instructions

Target age range: Grades K-5; younger children may need adult support

  1. Today we will create a water xylophone and think about pitch.

  2. Gather the following materials:

    • 4 (or more) glass jars of the same size and shape. Mason jars or drinking glasses work well.

    • Wooden sticks, such as craft sticks, popsicle sticks, or wooden chopsticks

    • Water

    • Food coloring (optional)

  3. Begin by using a wood stick to tap on each empty jar. Notice that when they are empty, they all make the same sound.

  4. Fill each jar with a different amount of water. You can be very exact, measuring out 1 cup, 1/2 cup, etc., or be approximate. Add food coloring to the water to make it more colorful and to help tell each jar apart from the others.

  5. Tap again, noticing the different sounds. You will notice that more water means a lower pitch. Less water means a higher pitch. When you tap the glass jar, you create a sound wave. When you add water, the sound travels through water and that changes the sound wave. When the sound wave changes, we hear a different pitch.

  6. You can also look here or here or here for different ideas about how to make your own water xylophone.

  7. Advanced extension: See if you can get your levels to make three next-door-neighbor notes: do, re, and mi. Try to play a simple, three-note melody like "Mary Had a Little Lamb" or "Hot Cross Buns.

  8. Want to know more about mallet instruments? Check out our YourClassical Music Lesson all about mallet instruments!

Have a question or suggestion? Contact Katie Condon, music education specialist.

More: View all of our daily YourClassical Music Lessons