Creating the Family Band: Easy Craft Ideas for Constructing Instruments


Save those empty toilet paper rolls!  Hold on to your used up, cardboard paper towel tubes!  And make time on your calendar to host a concert; you could be just hours away from the first jam session of the Family Band.

I took a four-day business trip over the weekend and arrived home to a living room full of musical instruments, carefully crafted by my mom (aka: Rock Star Grandma) and two daughters.  With the simplest of materials and the grandest of imaginations, they created an entire music department’s worth of good guitars, drums, microphones and maracas like the ones at Bring in the Noise — and rehearsed a performance that is deserving of a tour bus and summer 2011 concert schedule.  Is there a family band waiting to form in your garage or basement?


Thank goodness Rock Star Grandma had the foresight to save so many empty toilet paper rolls.  (I say that because if she didn’t see this project coming, then I’m sorta worried about why she had such a stockpile!)  With two small squares of wax paper, secured by rubber bands and covering the open sides of the holder, along with a handful of dried beans poured inside, the Band members created great shakers to keep rhythm and hold a beat.


If you’ve ever heard my daughters sing, you know they do not need any amplifying devices to make their voices heard.  Nonetheless, one decorated paper towel tube, topped with a ball of black construction paper on one end and sporting a long piece of yarn/string/curly ribbon from the other made for simple, realistic (from a distance) microphones.  And according to my girls, “voices really do sound prettier” when using a homemade microphone.


What is a band without drums?  Oddly enough, this instrument most needs to withstand a beating.  Yet, it was originally crafted in the most delicate way.  The kids collected every tin can in the recycling pile and covered each with aluminum foil, wax paper, or construction paper, then gently tapped on each to create a variety of sounds.  The beats they created really were catchy—but as you can guess, their appetites for banging were soon too much.  When my younger daughter dug out a large plastic barrel previously used to hold hard pretzels and my older one followed suit with one of those old, giant popcorn tins, the percussion was perfected.


These were my favorite of their instrument collection—certainly the most creative!  They took empty tissue boxes (or should I say they emptied tissue boxes) and cut a hole on one end, just large enough to insert a cardboard paper towel tube.  They secured the tube with tape and added 3-5 rubber bands around the center of the tissue boxes, to mimic guitar strings.  Voila!

The Family Band is jamming!  Their current playlist is an eclectic mix of Lady Gaga, Laurie Berkner, The Beatles (I am so proud!), and Hannah Montana.  Costumes seem to be next on their agenda.  Wonder how Rock Star Grandma will look in hot pink hair extensions?

By Signe Whitson, LSW.  She is the mother to this rockstar band, a child therapist, and blogger on the effects of passive aggressive behavior.  She has great ideas to share with the parenting community, which is brought to you by My Baby Clothes Boutique.  Check out our partners page the next time you need to buy a special baby gift for the new baby in your life.
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