Way up north, the cell phone service is come and go (if at all) and your iPod’s maximum volume is no match for the dense northern woods. How can we enjoy music in the great outdoors without draining our car batteries to charge laptops and phones? Or take away from the peaceful atmosphere nature provides? Easy…make the music yourself!

Making music as a group makes us feel good. It brings family and friends closer together and it’s a way to “get attuned” to the people around you without using words.

Composer-in-Residence Abigail Richardson-Schulte, who runs the “Found Sound Workshop” with school groups throughout the year mentions that, “the key to creation like this, is to layer sounds.  Give one person a repetitive sound or continuous sound to start, then choose a couple of people to layer on sound, gradually switching up these extras.  Don’t forget about all of the wonderful sounds we can make with our own voice.  Choose a rhythm and layer.” Here are a few crafts, ideas and sound makers you can use to make your own symphony at the cottage.

There are countless ways to make shakers as a craft, but here are two methods you can use to make a musical instrument that doubles up as a craft.

Exif_JPEG_PICTUREMethod 1 – Plate Maracas
Materials: 2 plastic/paper plates, dried rice, staples and tape.

1. Pour approximately 3 Tbsp of dried rice, lentils or beans in the bottom of one paper/plastic plate.
2. Place the second plate on top and staple the plate together.
3. Add a layer of tape around the edges.
4. Decorate with paint, glitter or any craft supplies and you’ll have yourself a beautiful plate shaker.

paper shakerMethod 2 – Toilet Paper Roll Shakers
Materials: 1 empty toilet paper roll, dried rice, construction paper, and 2 elastic.

1. Cut two circles out of cardboard or regular paper which are slightly bigger than the ends of your toilet paper roll.
2. Take the empty toilet paper roll and one paper circle. Wrap the paper around the end and secure it with an elastic.
3. Place 1 Tbsp of dried rice, lentils or beans into the hollow roll.
4. Place the second circle on the uncovered end of the toilet paper roll and wrap it with an elastic.
5. Decorate your shaker with paint, markers, crayons and/or glitter.

resonate drumsResonate Drum

You can play this homemade instrument around the campfire or keep the beat for someone singing.

1. Find a yogurt container or empty metal can and clean it out.
2. Cut the top off a balloon, stretch it across the top of the container and secure it with an elastic band.
3. Pull up the balloon top and you’ve got a resonate drum.

Metal and Water

1. Tie a piece of string to a metal object (something that will resonate like a spoon or fork).
2. Fill a bowl with water and dip the metal into the bowl.
3. Hit the metal object again while it’s in water…you’ll notice it has a different sound!

Garbage Can
So many objects can make interesting sounds beyond its intended purpose. A garbage can or barrel can have a bunch of hidden sounds depending on where you bang it. Make some music with your garbage can with a couple of these objects and see which sounds you like the most:

  • Rubber mallet/hammer
  • Metal hammer can make it sound like a gong
  • Rub steel wool or wire brushes (like ones to clean the BBQ). This can make a swishing sound.


How do you enjoy music when you’re camping or staying at the cottage? Feel free to share or add ideas to list in the comments!