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Saturday, April 20th, 2013

How to Make Recycled Instruments to Celebrate the Earth

Make your own instruments -(c) Daria's Music

The first musical instruments on Earth were probably very simple but powerful creations made from natural materials.  They might have been a drum made from a hollow log, a rasp made from a carved piece of bone or wood or a few corn kernels or pebbles placed inside a gourd to create a rattle.  Early people were really inventive about making music with on-hand materials and we can do the same thing, in celebration of the Earth!


Since life is so different for modern people and we have so much more fabricated material, we can put two wonderful things together—recycling and creating instruments.  It’s a great way to get into the habit of reusing or remaking objects that might otherwise find their way into the trash stream.  And making music is a fun way to spend time with your family or friends, express yourself, play with rhythm and dance or just be silly with the folks that you love!


Here are four super-simple musical projects that you can create to celebrate Earth day or any day:


Makes a Recycled Latin American-Style Guiro




A guiro is a simple instrument with ridges often found in Latin America countries.  It is scraped with a stick or pick or rasp to create wonderful rhythms. The last time I visited Lima, Peru, young kids had created their own guiros from soda bottles with ridges and were playing them with plastic hair picks, while singing their favorite songs.  It sounded fantastic.  If you want to hear a guiro, color a guiro, hear a guiro song or find a pdf to make one yourself, visit:


Take a Musical Visit to the Land Down Under




And what about a didgeridoo from Australia?   The original instrument was made from a tree branch hollowed out by ants, but you can make your own version with wrapping paper tubes or from PVC piping. Believe it or not, recycled didgeridoos don’t take a lot of effort to create and sound really great!  To hear, color or find instructions to make a didg, visit:


Make a Drum From a Box




And, have you ever heard a cajón—a box drum from the Afro-Peruvian culture?  It’s a wonderful instrument to learn the skills of basic hand percussion.  And it can be made from a shoebox or a simple sturdy cardboard box. To hear, color or find instructions to make a cajón, visit:


Don’t Just Wish for a Washboard—Make one! 


bella-and-washboard    Zeke's-washboard


And what about folk instruments from the U.S.?  I’ve always loved how a simple washboard used to clean clothes can turn into an amazing rhythm machine.  You can play it with spoons, plastic forks, thimbles, chopsticks or whatever you find handy.  An easy version can be made from sturdy cardboard and manilla paper so a whole class or group of kids can create a recycled band in no time!  To hear, color or find instructions to make a washboard, visit:


If you’d like to hear many of these wonderful world music instruments in the context of songs, check out the resources on my website at You’ll hear these instruments and more played with great kids music from the U.S., South America, Native America, Africa and all around the planet.  It’s a great way to celebrate the Earth with song and a wonderful way to explore world cultures while discovering your creative side at the same time!


© 2013, Daria Marmaluk-Hajioannou. All rights reserved.

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Award-winning children’s performer, DARIA (Daria Marmaluk-Hajioannou) has six cd’s that have won national honors. She has the most awesome job of traveling the world to sing for kids and peace. Her website, located at, was given a 2009 Parent's Choice Award for its musical and cultural content.

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