Found Sounds: Jar Xylophone

The Mighty Music Makers create musical instruments using everyday objects.

Saxophonist and TV presenter YolanDa Brown looks for objects around the home.

Watch the video and see how the children create a Jar Xylophone using glass jars, food colouring, a wooden spoon and water.

What's a Jar Xylophone?

A xylophone is a tuned percussion instrument.

You’ll need a number of glass jars for this make. Glass bottles or tumblers will also work well, but using containers of the same size is a little easier to ‘tune’.

How it works

When you tap a jar with the spoon it vibrates, making that clinking sound. The faster something vibrates, the higher the ‘pitch’ of the sound it makes. Adding water to the jar makes the jar vibrate more slowly, lowering the pitch of the sound.

For xylophones and glockenspiels, it’s the length of the bars that are hit that changes the pitch. The shorter bars vibrate faster, and make a higher pitched note.

Make your own musical instrument

This activity is a great way to get your children to be creative.

Explore sounds around your environment with your children and create music.

Download the Jar Xylophone activity sheet

Mighty Music Makers are put to the challenge by YolanDa as she gives them household items to make musical instruments from.

How to make a Jar Xylophone

You will need:

  • glass jars
  • water
  • food colouring
  • wooden spoon
  1. Open and clean out each of the jars and line them up in a row.
  1. Fill the glasses with different amount of water, trying not to fill any jars more than halfway.

Each jar is a different note to your xylophone - it’s easier to play if the notes are in order. Sort the jars in order of how much water is in each jar.

  1. If you’d like to add some extra flair, you can use a few drops of food colouring in each jar so they vary by colour.
  1. Now you’re ready to play! Use a wooden spoon as a beater to tap against the side of a glass to play a note. Can you play a tune?

Watch more Found Sound episodes

Make a Big Box Bass
Make a Comb Kazoo
Make a Hosepipe Horn
Perform with homemade musical instruments