Your children's teen years are a time, when if they haven't yet, they will develop their own taste in music and possibly start playing an instrument. Musical instruments can be expensive, but one solution is for your teens to make their own. While many homemade instruments aren't useful for formal settings, such as a school band, teens can learn more about music and exercise creativity and crafting skills by making them. Who knows -- an interest in flute-carving or violin-making might even be sparked.
There are countless ways for your teenager to build his own flute, with common materials like wood, PVC and cardboard. While a cardboard flute might seem babyish, it serves as a good trial run before working with wood or PVC. The only materials required are a 12 1/2-inch-long wrapping paper tube, scissors, ruler, pen and a small, flat piece of cardboard. The mouth hole should measure 3/5 inch by 2/5 and extend 2 2/5 inches from one end. At the other end, cut a small cardboard disk and insert it into the tube so it fits snugly inside. Measure 3 1/7 inches from the mouth hole to the first finger hole, then use a pen to puncture five or six 2/5-inch finger holes, each 3/5 inch apart. To make a flute out of wood or PVC, your teen should use a hole saw which can be found either at a wood shop at his school or as a rental at hardware stores.
2. Copper Glockenspiel
Building a glockenspiel is another fairly simple instrument your teen can build himself. Begin with a copper tube measuring 6 1/2 feet by 1/2 inch. For a full octave in C plus a high D, cut pipes into the following lengths: 10 1/8 inches, 9 1/2 inches, 8 15/16 inches, 8 11/16 inches, 8 3/16 inches, 7 11/16 inches, 7 1/4 inches, 7 inches and 6 5/8 inches. Arrange them in order of longest to shortest starting from the left; the lowest C note is the longest tube. Tie them together at the top and bottom, leaving 2 inches of space in between each tube. Use mallets of various materials like metal, wood or plastic to produce different sounds.
3. Floppy Disk Kokiriko
To make this percussion instrument, your teen will need the following: 34 floppy disks, 200 washers, two bolts, four nuts and four feet of paracord. Turn all of the floppy disks upside down and drill two small holes in the top left and right corners of each. Then in two of the floppy disks, drill a hole about twice as big halfway and lower from the two small holes. These disks will bookend all the floppy disks. Next, feed the paracord through the floppy disks, leaving three washers in between disks. When you get to the end of the floppy disks, loop the paracord and feed it through the other holes, again alternating with three washers. Tie off the paracord snugly at the end so it can't slip through, then use a nut and washer to attach a bolt at either end to act as handles. To play the floppy disk kokiriko, bend it into various shapes or hit it against itself.
4. Ruler Organ
Using 13 rulers and hanging them off at different lengths on an unvarnished table, your teen will have his own ruler organ in a full octave, complete with accidentals. The first ruler, giving the low C, goes, on the left side and should have 9.7 cm hanging off the edge. The other notes are as follows: C#- 9.1 cm., D- 8.6 cm., D#- 8 cm., E- 7.6 cm., F- 7.1 cm., F#- 6.6 cm., G- 6.2 cm., G#- 5.9 cm., A- 5.5 cm., A#- 5.1cm., B- 4.8 cm., and C- 4.5 cm. There should be a small gap between each ruler so that when the note is struck, it doesn't hit an adjacent ruler. To make sure the rulers don't snap up when struck, place heavy books on top.