Homemade Musical Instruments — Xylophone — waterbottles
Water Bottle Xylophone
Welcome to my water bottle xylophone activity page. Here you will find: 1) a Virtual Water Bottle Xylophone you can play right now on your computer; 2) directions on how to build a 5-note water bottle xylophone; and 3) information on building and playing an 8-note water bottle xylophone — including step-by-step instructions, playing tips, beginning exercises and songs, and music you can play with two to four people. So take a couple of minutes, play the virtual xylophone, learn how to make your homemade instrument, and discover all of the great songs your water bottle xylophone can play.
Virtual Water Bottle Xylophone
Our Virtual Water Bottle Xylophone plays the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th & 6th notes of the Major Scale. It's called the Pentatonic Scale (see below).
As you will hear: more water produces a lower pitch, and less water produces a higher pitch. In the activity (below) you can play my water bottle xylophone with the actual sounds I recorded in my kitchen.
Start by clicking your mouse on each bottle. Then, choose a song and start playing. If you would like to make this instrument, follow the directions below.
Building a 5-note Water Bottle Xylophone
Start by getting five 20-ounce Sobe juice bottles. Fill each bottle with the amounts of water shown above using U.S. fluid ounces or milliliters. Mark your bottles carefully at the water level with a permanent marker. Number your bottles 1, 2, 3, 5 & 6 and arrange them in the order above 1 on your left and 6 on your right. Gently tap the middle of the bottle with a metal spoon.
If you would like to build an 8-note xylophone that plays many more songs, see below.
Building an 8-note Water Bottle Xylophone
Phil and his daughter, Sarah, went to three different grocery stores and listened to every bottle by striking it with a spoon. They found the best sounding bottles that were readily available, they brought them home, and they cataloged all the notes each bottle could play. Eventually, they had a select list of bottles that sounded great and could be combined to play a full 8-note scale in the key of C — just like Phil and Sarah's homemade panpipes, glockenspiel, fraction tubes and melodic tube drums,. Played together, they created a homemade instrument band with musical arrangements that worked for everyone! You can see all the songs these instruments will play — they're in the table of contents.
“Building and Playing a Water Bottle Xylophone"
by Phil & Sarah Tulga
In “Building and Playing a Water Bottle Xylophone” Phil’s daughter,
Sarah, shows you everything you need to know to make a great
sounding instrument. You will learn exactly how to combine two or
more types of bottles to design a full 8-note xylophone that is
tuned to the key of C.
It's the perfect project for scouts who are making a homemade instrument. In fact, you will see many scouting songs in this package. Homeschoolers will also enjoy the project as a cross-curricular activity on math, measurement, music, and the physics of sound.
This complete package (including step-by-step instructions, playing tips, exercises, songs, duets, and quartets) costs only $14.95.
To download this PDF book on "Building and Playing a Water Bottle Xylophone" along with all the music tracks, just click the "Buy Now" button below.
Table of Contents
The bottles we selected were found at all the grocery stores we visited, produced a nice quality sound, and could be combined to play an 8-note scale in the key of C.
You can learn how to make an all-Perrier xylophone, or perhaps a series of Starbucks Frappuccinos topped off with a Kiikkoman bottle, or just go with every kid's favorite — the Coke and Root Beer combination.
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