Professional vs. DIY

We challenged two of our professional musicians to play the famous Also Sprach Zarathustra on their usual instruments and then DIY versions of their instruments. We love how this shows that anyone can make music at home, even if you don’t have any instruments.

Professional vs. DIY

Make Your Own Instruments


Of all the instrument families of the orchestra, the percussion section is the easiest to DIY. Even your body can be used as a percussion instrument. Here are a few different percussion tutorials you can try.

Easy Balloon Drum

This drum uses simple materials but still has a great sound.

5-Minute Shaker

Check out this easy 5-minute shaker using a toilet paper or paper towel roll, great for toddlers and older kids alike.

Trumpets and Trombone

Soda Bottle Trumpet

We’ve shared this DIY trumpet from the New York Philharmonic before, but that’s because we love how it only uses materials you probably already have at home and really works! When you play into the soda bottle mouthpiece, you’ll need to buzz your lips like this video teaches in order to make sound.

1. Get an adult to help you with this step! Using the sharp knife, carefully cut off the spout of the soda bottle. You want the cut part of the bottle to match up to be slightly larger than the width of the cardboard tube. This will be your mouthpiece.

2. Tape the mouthpiece to the cardboard tube as shown

3. Form the construction paper into a funnel shape. The smallest part of the funnel should be able to fit over the non-mouthpiece end of the cardboard tube. Tape the construction paper so that the funnel keeps its shape.

4. Tape the funnel to the tube

If you’ve already made that trumpet, check out this trumpet-inspired DIY instrument. It’s technically a woodwind instrument because the straw acts as a double reed in order to make the sound, but we love how simple it is to make.

Hose and Funnel Trumpet

Check out Elisa and her hose trumpet that uses just 3 materials that you may already have at home.

Balloon Trombone – Great for Older Children

This balloon trombone is a great DIY for older children to work on with a grown-up.

Play Along

Once you’ve gathered and assembled your DIY instruments, you can make music too. Here a few fun ways to play:

  • Call and response: Have one member of your household play a rhythm or musical pattern on one of the instruments and let the other members repeat the rhythm.
  • Bring your instruments on a parade outside for a fun take on a normal, everyday walk. This works especially well with percussion instruments. Tap or shake out rhythms to the beat of your footsteps.
  • Play along with Also Sprach Zarathustra just like our musicians.
  • Compose your own music to play:
    1. Head over to our composition activity and get creative.
    2. Using one of your DIY instruments, try and play the music along with your piece as it plays back to you.
    3. After you’ve practiced with the recording a couple of times, give it a go on your own.


Listen for the following instruments in these songs:

  • The Typewriter – I think it’s pretty clear what you’re listening for here!
  • Toy Symphony – This piece uses many different toys and noisemakers throughout.
  • Anvil Chorus – That metal banging sound you hear throughout the end of this piece? Those are people actually hammering metal anvils, just like blacksmiths use.
  • Piano Concerto, Khatchaturian – At about 2:40 into this piece, listen for the flexatone, a crazy metal percussion instrument rarely used in orchestra music.
  • Pines of Rome: The Pines of the Janiculum – At the end of this piece you’ll hear pre-recorded bird sounds.
  • Finale from 1812 Overture – The end of this piece uses actual cannons!
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