Tambourine Crafts

by Cathy Welch

A tambourine is a small frame drum with a single skin that is nailed or glued to a circular frame. This shallow frame includes a slot large enough to slip the fingers of one hand through to hold the instrument and pairs of metal discs so that the tambourine jingles when shaken or tapped. This percussion instrument adds rhythmic accompaniment to a musical ensemble, a soloist, a choir or a dancer.

Plate Tambourine

Craft a paper plate tambourine from two heavy-duty paper plates or disposable plastic plates. You can paint them with acrylic paints or glitter glue to add interest to the finished instrument. Punch five, evenly spaced holes around the perimeter of each plate -- make sure that the holes line up for both plates. With the plate tops facing each other, thread 2-inch lengths of pipe cleaner through the holes and lace them through a round, jingle bell before twisting them together to finish the tambourine.

Embroidery Hoop Tambourine

An embroidery hoop consists of two wooden rings -- one inside the other -- with the outer ring separated by a screw that is tightened to hold the two hoops together. Separate the two rings, and cover the inner ring with cotton fabric or thick wrapping paper. Place the outer ring over the fabric, and clamp it in place. Holes are drilled around the perimeter of the connected rings, and sleigh bells are attached through these holes with ribbon to secure them in place.

Pie Plate Tambourine

Using a hammer and nail, punch hole through an aluminum pie plate every two inches around its rim. Attach ribbons and round jingling bells in each of the holes to surround the pie plate for decoration and sound when the plate is tapped on. Two pie plates can be glued together as a variation on this project. Enclose beans or extra jingle bells between the pie plates for an added layer of percussion.

Cookie Tin Tambourine

Clean out an empty cookie tin as the beginning of a tambourine project. Collect 10 aluminum bottle caps and hammer a hole in the center of each with a nail. Flatten the caps with the hammer. Mark six crosses evenly spaced around the rim of the cookie tin. With very sharp knife, cut each cross a little wider than the bottle caps. Five of the slots are for the bottle caps, and one is for the player’s thumb as she holds the instrument. For the thumb slot, fold all four flaps inside the tin, making them flat to be safe from sharp edges. Flatten two opposing flaps in the other five slots, leaving the unfolded flaps to secure z-shaped paper clips threaded through each pair of bottle caps. Flatten the remaining two flaps inside each opening with one end of the paper clip behind each.


  • "Nifty Thrifty Music Crafts"; Felicia Lowenstein Niven; 2007

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