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How to Make a Xylophone

I was so excited when we figured out how to make a xylophone! This tutorial breaks it down into simple steps that anyone can follow. It’s a perfect DIY project for families to work on together.

kids playing a diy xylophone
how to make a xylophone
kids playing a diy xylophone
how to make a xylophone

I have to be completely honest and say that this is kind of a full-circle moment for me. From watching musicals over and over as a kid, to dreaming of being on stage, to actually realizing a career in musical theatre in New York, musicals have been woven through my life. And now I get to bring that part of me here, to the blog.

And to be able to say that I’m teaming up with The Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization to share how much I love The Sound of Music is kind of unreal. This movie has been in my life as long as I can remember, and is part of so many of my family memories.

Some of those memories are so strong I can still feel what it was like to be me as an 8-year-old, watching The Sound of Music over and over. As one of the first musicals I ever saw, it was probably largely responsible for me studying music in college and having a career in musical theatre.

Now that I have kids of my own, it has filled my heart to bursting to see them watch The Sound of Music for the first time! Their little eyes track their favorite characters as their lips mouth the words to their favorite song: “Do-Re-Mi.” Passing a love of musicals on to them is so important to me. I wanted to make them a xylophone so that they could play along with their favorite songs!

kids playing a diy xylophone

a DIY Xylophone That’s in Tune!

I admit it – I’m kind of a musical stickler. If we ever come across a musical toy that the kids show interest in, it’s a hard no from me if the thing doesn’t play in tune. So it was super important to me to create a DIY that plays correct notes!

We made this one to correspond with the notes and key of “Do-Re-Mi” in The Sound of Music, so that if your kids want to play along it will sound perfectly harmonious! If you follow the tutorial to make one, pay close attention to the length of the pipes and yours should play in tune also. Yay!

How to Make a Xylophone

Materials

  • 1″ PVC pipe
  • pipe cutter
  • 3/4″ square wood dowels
  • flat wood hobby board
  • 1″ metal brackets
  • screws
  • drill
  • saw
  • alphabet stickers
  • paint
  • paintbrushes
  • rubber mallet or spatula

Make Time: 2 Hours (Plus Drying Time)

Instructions:

  1. Cut your PVC pipe. (Note that these measurements are in centimeters!) Lengths are: 34 cm, 29.5 cm, 27.5 cm, 25 cm, 22 cm, 19.5 cm, 17.5 cm, 16 cm. Whack the open ends of the tube to hear the pitches and adjust if needed.
  2. Cut the hobby board to 19 1/2″.
  3. Screw the tubes onto the back of the hobby board using the metal brackets, alternating the brackets high and low to be able to place the tubes 1″ apart. Place them centered on the board and allow extra room on either end for the stand. Place the longest tube on the right so that it will be on the left when viewed from the front.
  4. Cut two square dowels to 13″ each and two dowels to 9″ each. Cut four dowels to 5 3/4″, cutting a 45 degree angle on all four of these.
  5. Create a t-stand by screwing the 9″ pieces onto one end of the 13″ pieces. Then screw in one angled brace piece on either side of the t. Repeat to make two t-stands.
  6. Make a painting plan with your kids to paint the front of the hobby board! This is where their creativity can come into play. I recommend painting a different colored stripe in front of each tube.
  7. To create the solfege letters like I did, use alphabet stickers to mask the wood before you paint. Paint over the stickers and then carefully peel them away.
  8. If you like, paint little icons next to the solfege syllables to help the instrument tie back to “Do-Re-Mi” as your kids play it!
  9. Screw the two t-stands onto either end of the back of the hobby board.
how to make a xylophone
materials for a diy xylophone
materials for a diy xylophone
materials for a diy xylophone
materials for a diy xylophone
materials for a diy xylophone
materials for a diy xylophone

How to play Your DIY Instrument

You can stand it up on the wooden stand and let the kiddos hammer at the open ends of the tubes it to make play! Hammer with hands, a rubber spatula, or a mallet. They can follow along with the song “Do-Re-Mi” by watching the names of the notes painted on the sides of the tubes.

You could also make fun musical games out of it, by playing a pattern of notes and having them repeat. Or having them play one that you have to match. I also just love how it looks, and we plan on keeping ours out on a shelf to display!

New Family Traditions

With lots of time spent at home lately, I’ve been loving introducing the kids to the things I love so much. When we watched The Sound of Music recently, they were enthralled, and we re-watch the musical numbers all the time (Maggie likes to pretend she’s Brigitta).

It’s just such an incredible movie to share, and it really opens up conversations for all kinds of different topics – history, music, culture, families, and so much more. And I love that we’ve added the movie and music to our family traditions.

Have you watched it with your family? I’d love to know some of your family’s musical traditions. Feel free to share in the comments, and let me know if you recreate our DIY xylophone! xoxo

how to make a xylophone
how to make a xylophone
how to make a xylophone
Yield: 1 Xylophone

How to Make a Xylophone

This PVC pipe xylophone actually plays in tune!

Active Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours
Difficulty Intermediate

Materials

  • 1' PVC pipe
  • 3/4" square wood dowels
  • Hobby board
  • 1" metal brackets
  • Screws
  • Alphabet stickers
  • Craft paint
  • Paintbrushes
  • Rubber mallet or spatula

Tools

  • Saw
  • Drill
  • PVC cutter

Instructions

  1. Start by cutting your PVC pipe. (Note that these measurements are in centimeters!) Cut 8 pieces: 34 cm, 29.5 cm, 27.5 cm, 25 cm, 22 cm, 19.5 cm, 17.5 cm, 16 cm. Whack the open ends of the tube to hear the pitches and adjust if needed.
  2. Cut the hobby board to 19 1/2″.
  3. Screw the tubes onto the back of the hobby board using the metal brackets, alternating the brackets high and low to be able to place the tubes 1″ apart. Place them centered on the board and allow extra room on either end for the stand. Place the longest tube on the right.
  4. Cut two square dowels to 13″ each. Cut two dowels to 9″ each. Cut four dowels to 5 3/4″, cutting a 45 degree angle on all four of these.
  5. Create a t-stand by screwing the 9″ pieces onto one end of the 13″ pieces. Then screw in one angled brace piece on either side of the t. Repeat to make two t-stands.
  6. Make a painting plan with your kids to paint the front of the hobby board! This is where their creativity can come into play. I recommend painting a different colored stripe in front of each tube.
  7. To create the solfege letters like I did, use alphabet stickers to mask the wood before you paint. Paint over the stickers and then carefully peel them away.
  8. If you like, paint little icons next to the solfege syllables to help the instrument tie back to “Do-Re-Mi” as your kids play it!
  9. Screw the two t-stands onto either end of the back of the hobby board.

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2 thoughts on “How to Make a Xylophone

  1. I Bv absolutely LOVE the Xylophone/Sound of Music story! That is just wonderful! Enjoy the new xylophone!

  2. What a great post! I love Sound of Music as well. I was about your age the fist time I saw it in the theatre in the 60s. It was quite the event… dinner first at the local cafeteria with the swanky drapes and wooden Indian holding cigars then down the shopping center to watch the movie. It was thrilling. My daughter played Maria as well in her high school production of Sound of Music and she went on to college with a vocal music scholarship. She does a lot of local theatre in Memphis. I think she needs to read your post and make a xylophone with her boys. Thanks for sharing! Love your posts…..

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