Homemade African-Style Drums

by Chelsea Oliver

Creating instruments from common household objects is an exciting art project. Both children and adults will love crafting an African drum using items such as a terracotta pot and punching balloon. Homemade drums pair perfectly with other homemade instruments, such as cardboard tube rain sticks and shoe box guitars.

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Materials

Crafting a homemade African-style drum requires a short list of materials. A terracotta plant pot, which can be found at home and garden centers, forms the body of the drum, while a punching balloon makes the perfect drum skin. In addition to these supplies, you also need a pair of scissors, a pencil, acrylic paints, paintbrushes and a large elastic band. Newspaper is optional but can be used to protect your table or work space. Wear old clothing that you don't splattering with paint.

Assembly

Cover your work space with newspaper and sketch a design on the terracotta plant pot. Use paint to fill in the design. Use your favorite colors or the colors of the African holiday Kwanzaa -- red, black and green. While one coat of paint will dry relatively quickly, layers of paint will take longer. Once all the paint is dry, cut the punching balloon open so that it resembles one large, flat piece of material. Lay the balloon over the top, open end of the terracotta plant pot and secure it with a rubber band so that the balloon is stretched tightly. Use scissors to trim the excess balloon from your homemade African drum, which is now ready to play.

Variations

If you do not have a punching balloon on hand, you can also use a simple sheet of colored or plain paper as a skin for your African drum. Decorate the paper if desired before fastening it to the top of a terracotta plant pot with a rubber band as described in Section 2. Another, more complicated option is to use two plastic or Styrofoam cups as the body of your drum. These cups can be taped together at the bottom and then coated in papier mache. Once the papier mache dries, the drum can be painted and finished with a sheet of paper or punching balloon.

Additional Ideas

Use homemade African-style drum crafts to supplement classroom lessons on African history, culture and holidays. Children of all ages will get a kick out of making their own instruments while the supplies, such as small pots, paint and paper, are inexpensive. You can also have students make African drums in music class to supplement lessons on traditional African music. Once the lesson is over, the kids can beat out their own versions of the songs.

Photo Credits

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