Music Comes from Everywhere

In Africa, musicians attach metal strips to a wooden box to make a sansa, or “thumb piano.”

All over the world, people who love music use whatever they can find to make great-sounding instruments for their ceremonies, festivals, and just plain fun! Traditional West Indian steel drums are made of ordinary oil barrels with curved metal pans on the ends. To make one correctly, a master craftsman must hammer and shape the metal pan for hours, “tuning” it carefully until it can make a wonderful variety of sounds when played by a skilled musician.

A long, wooden trumpet called a didgeridoo is made with the help of termites! The native people of Australia bury a eucalyptus branch in the ground and let termites do the job of hollowing it out. The didgeridoo makes a deep, growling sound and is used along with beating sticks to accompany chants and songs. To play the pipa from China, a musician plucks its four silk strings. The pipa can be played harsh and fast or soft and slow, to remind listeners of fierce battles or beautiful landscapes.

Buddhist monks in Japan play a bamboo flute, called a shakuhachi, in a traditional manner. They wear a woven basket called a tengai on their heads to show that they will not be distracted by the noise and bustle of the world.

It's fun to make music! What's your favorite instrument?


  1. What causes a drum to make a sound?
  2. What causes a pipa to make a sound?
  3. What is your favorite instrument? What causes this instrument to make a sound? Can the instrument make different kinds of sounds? Write a few sentences about your favorite instrument.