Music can help you relax or get you up and moving! For generations sailors have been using music to entertain themselves at sea. Why not create your own musical instruments inspired by the National Maritime Museum and the collection? 

You could make an ocean drum or a banjo!

collection image of a banjo was owned by Dr Leonard Hussey, a scientist on the Endurance.


This banjo was owned by Dr Leonard Hussey, a scientist on the Endurance. When the ship sank during an expedition to Antarctica, this banjo was rescued. Hussey played it for the expedition team to keep their morale up whilst they waited to be rescued from Elephant Island.


You will need:

foil container, Scissors  Sellotape,  clingfilm, Rice, Pencil,  Elastic bands, tissue box and cardboard tube, lollypop sticks and coloured pens


Sellotape and/or glue

For the ocean drum:


Baking tray or metal dish

Rice or lentils

For the banjo:


Elastic bands

Either a tissue box and cardboard tube, or lollypop sticks and a metal lid from a jar

Something to decorate with!

Making an Ocean Drum

First why not try and make an ocean drum

Step 1

Find a metal tray. You could use a baking tin, a frying pan, or a metal dish. Whatever you choose to use, make sure it has sides! Place a handful of rice inside. Don't use too much though or it won't move properly.  

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Step 2

Measure out enough cling film to cover the top and the sides of the tray.

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Step 3

Stick down the edges of the cling film to prevent your rice falling out.

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Step 4

Experiment with your instrument! Tip it at different angles and listen to the sounds - do they sound like the ocean to you?

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Make a Banjo

Next make your very own banjo!

Step 1

You will need your empty tissue box and cardboard tube for this.

Open one end of your tissue box and place the tube part way down the box, keeping it central. Stick it in place with tape.

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Step 2

Use a pencil to mark where the tube is sat. 

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Step 3

Cut along your pencil marks. You should then be able to reseal the end of the box around the tube, cutting off any bits of the box that are in the way. Tape it back up. 

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Step 4

Stretch your elastic bands around the length of the tissue box. You can have as many 'strings' as you would like, but a traditional banjo has four or five. 

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Step 5

Decorate your banjo!

You could use paints, pencils, collage with newspaper or use anything else you have around the house. You might be inspired by the banjo at the National Maritime Museum to get others to sign your banjo, just like Dr Leonard Hussey did with his.

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If you don't have a tissue box and tube, why not try making a mini banjo using a metal lid from a jar, elastic bands and some lollypop sticks?

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Can you make a whole orchestra of instruments? What different sounds can you make? Don't forget to share your wonderful instruments with us on social media!