For this easy and fun musical instrument experiment you will need simple objects found at home or at your local shop.
For this experiment, you will need:
– A container (a small cup, cardboard box, or plastic bowl work perfectly)
– 5-6 rubber bands: try a range of thick and thin! (but make sure they will stretch across the
width of your container)
– Wax paper
To make a guitar
Step 1: Make sure your container has a round hole in one end – if
you are using a cardboard box, cut a hole in the top of this. You can
use your markers to decorate: the brighter the better! Try stripes,
dots and lots of different colours.
Step 2: Stretch your rubber bands over the container, and line them
up so the hole is covered evenly by the bands. Make sure that bands
are not placed close to the edge of the hole to ensure that they do
not slip off then you play your guitar!
Step 3: Pluck the strings of your guitar and hear the different sounds.
If you want to get creative, use a wooden stick to create the neck of
the guitar. Slide it behind the rubber bands to attach it to your guitar
STOP & THINK – Why are the notes created by the strings different?
Can you change the sounds by using different rubber bands or a
To make a drum
Step 1: Make sure your container has a round hole in one end – if you are using a cardboard box, cut
a hole in the top of this. You can use your markers to decorate this: the brighter the better! Try
stripes, dots and lots of different colours.
Step 2: Place your wax paper over the hole, and use a rubber band to secure it around the rim of
Step 3: Stretch one rubber band over the wax paper, so that it is wrapped around the top and
bottom of your container. Pluck this band to hear your drum in action.
STOP & THINK – Why is the loud drumming noise created when you pluck the rubber band? Can you
change the tone and volume by using different rubber bands or a different container?
What’s happening in this experiment?
Sound energy moves through the air in waves, and allows us to hear different sounds and tones.
When strings on instruments are plucked, the string vibrates and creates waves. These waves allow
us to hear the sound of the instrument. Different materials create different wave frequencies, which
is why many instruments like guitars and violins can have steel, nylon or even aluminium strings!
Drums create sounds in a very similar manner, which is why you can create one with some rubber
bands and wax paper!
NOTE: This is a Street Science Original Activity and may be used only in publications with
written permission of the Street Science Executive. For non-profit use only.