Making Music With Bottles

Filling Bottles up with water to turn them into musical instruments is great fun for adults and kids to play with. They’re often called Bottle Pan Pipes and if your spend a bit of time you can tune each bottle to make different notes.

You need some empty bottles (plastic or glass) and some water. I like to use glass wine bottles as I find them easier to get notes (the neck makes a difference) out of but you do have to be careful when using glass and children (and some adults!).

Using a jug fill the bottles with different levels of water. Place your lower lip just underneath the rim and blow across the bottle to make a sound. If you don’t get any sound adjust the bottle slightly and slowly, keeping your lip in place whilst blowing across the top still.

Once you’ve got the hang of getting a sound you can then adjust the amount of water in each bottle so that you get a scale ( each bottle makes the next note up).  Six bottles will allow you to play Twinkle, Twinkle … a party trick for all ages

A Little Bit Of Science

The musical note/sound you get comes from resonance made by the air oscillating in and out of the bottle neck. The difference in the sound of the note you get is caused by a mix of the following things

  • the speed of sound in air,
  • the length of the neck,
  • the width of the neck opening
  • the amount (volume) of air inside the bottle.
The less water you have in the bottle the lower the note will be but the harder it can be to get a sound.

If the amount of air inside is reduced by adding water to the bottle, the resonant frequency will increase and the pitch of the note you get will become higher.

One thing to be careful of is dizziness caused by hyperventilating especially if you start playing some seriously long tunes. 

This was part of a weekly Craft Hangout that I take part in usually as Zing Zing Tree but this weeks theme of Handmade Musical Instruments fitted Blue Bear Wood better. Watch the video to see some great ideas for hand made percussion instruments and catch me playing Twinkle Twinkle (at the end of the video)!

Red Ted Art –  Maracas,shakers and a Strumming guitar
Playful Learners –  straw kazoo
Kids Chaos –  Cacaca…castanets
Craftulate – Paper PlateTambourine
Crystals Tiny Treasures –  Jingle Wristbands
Me And My Shadow – Fairy Bell Shaker


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2 Responses to Making Music With Bottles

  1. Liz Burton says:

    This is so great. I loved your rendition of Twinkle Twinkle. x

  2. Ali Clifford says:

    fabulous, that’s a LOT of fun! A x

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