Xylophones are used in many forms around the world. But the basic instrument is the same everywhere - even in the orchestra onstage in front of you today! Here's how to make your own!

  • 4 or 5 pieces of wood each around an inch thick and varying in length from maybe 8 inches to 12 or 18 inches long.

  • A fuzzy towel, a piece of carpet, or any other thick soft cloth

  • Sticks of some kind (two unsharpened pencils or some chopsticks will do fine)
Lay the wood pieces across the cloth in order of size, so they are not touching each other (the whole idea is to make them vibrate - that's why you can't just put them on the floor). Hit them with the sticks. Try using different sticks, like rubber balls on the end of the sticks, or even foam rubber wrapped around the stick ends with rubber bands.

You should be able to hear different notes from each piece of wood. The problem is that the wood has a tendency to bounce around. You can fix that by making an even better xylophone (you'll need to get an adult to help you with this one).

  • A wooden base around 12" x 8" x 1"
  • Two strips of foam rubber about 12" x 1", or strips of felt or other soft cloth
  • 4 or 5 pieces of wood
  • A heavy-duty staple gun (3/8-inch staples) OR hot glue or Elmer's-type glue
  • 2 feet of twine or other thin rope

Staple or glue the foam rubber or soft cloth to the wood base (use a lot of glue) as shown:

Place the wood pieces across the base, in order of size.

Staple the end of the twine to one side of the base.

Lay the twine across the bars and staple the twine to each bar, then staple the twine to the opposite side of the base, and back again, once again stapling each bar (to provide stability), and then, finally back onto the base near where you had started. If this sounds a bit complicated, just look at the drawing and staple wherever you see an X. You may need to hammer the staples a bit to make them tight. The whole idea of the twine is to make this a bounce-less, more portable instrument. instrument.

(If you don't have a staple gun, you can use glue; just glob it on - use a lot - at the same points you would staple and press the twine into the globs using a pencil to push if you have hot glue. Make sure your glue is FULLY dry before playing your instrument - about 24 hours for Elmer's-type glue!