DIY instruments and the science of music

When I was a kid, I used to make “guitars” out of cardboard boxes and elastic bands. I’ve mentioned that before in an interview. My DIY instruments were not the most musical, but in the process of making them I learned a lot. I figured out how the size of the rubber bands or the shape of the box influenced the sound.

It was my very first introduction to science and music, and a few decades later I’m still doing both. Now I just have slightly more professional equipment.

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DIY instruments in a box

Imagine my excitement when I found out that this month’s Groovy Lab in a Box is a whole box of science experiments involving the very same kind of homemade musical instruments! I would have loved this SO much as a kid. And this “Good Vibrations” themed box looks a lot better than the things I haphazardly tried all these years ago.

With this box, kids get to actively learn about the science of music, sound, pitch, vibrations, frequency, energy, and more. Unlike my own childhood box guitar attempts,  the instrument they’ll make in the process will be properly instrument-shaped. The string instrument in the preview pictures even looks a bit like a banjo!


DIY instruments with Groovy Lab in a Box


The box comes with a “design challenge”. “Using only the materials from your Groovy Lab in a Box, can you design and build a new musical instrument that plays at least three different pitches?”

It also includes a lab notebook and access to Beyond…in a Box.  That’s an online web portal with access to extended activities and further learning opportunities.


Sign up before June 30 to get this science of music kit

Normally, I would put this kind of science/music news in the musicians and scientists newsletter, but it had just gone out when I heard about this month’s box. and by the time the next newsletter goes out, you will have missed your chance. If you’re in the USA, and sign up for Groovy Lab in a Box before June 30, you get the Good Vibrations box this summer with free shipping.

If you get the box (for your kids, or for yourself – I won’t judge) please tweet me a picture (or better, a video) of your DIY instruments. I can already guarantee that they will look and sound better than the ones I used to make.


DIY instruments





Eva Amsen is a writer, science communicator and blogger. She has been writing about science and scientists in art/culture/life since 2005, both on this blog and for other sites and publications. Portfolio | Twitter | Contact

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7 Responses

  1. What a great idea. That looks like it would be fun for my children when they are a little older. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I had never thought of music as being ‘scientific’ but it does make sense. What a great way to get the children interested in both music and science from a young age too x

  3. My brother make his own instruments! He is so creative! I guess i need to show him this post! (:

  4. james says:

    I used to play the violin and recorder in elementary school and I miss it so much. I do feel that science is in everything!

  5. Jack says:

    Music is science! And this is a perfect way to learn…

  6. Music and music theory and the composition of music notation is so connected to science and math. This is a very imaginative way in which to learn about the science of music by building your own instrument and making music through it . Fab!

  7. Louise says:

    This looks like so much fun! I’d love to build musical instruments with my two little ones 🙂

    Louise x

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