Make Your Own Percussion Instruments

Once you have made your instruments you can join in with our Summer Together! 2019 Carnival Percussion Workshops with Xi-mali Kadeena-Guscos.

The Together! 2012 Music Club, which usually takes place monthly, provides percussion instruments so that everyone attending can join in. We also play percussion as part of our Carnival Arts programme with Paracarnival. The three instruments used most often in Carnival are the Shaker, Agogo and Hand Drum. Carnival costumes are very bright and highly decorated, so take time to decorate your instrument.


To make your own recycled Shaker you will need:

  • A clean empty plastic bottle with a screw top – any size will do.
  • Something to decorate it with – paint, stickers, sticky tapes, ribbons and marker pens are all suitable.
  • Something to put inside such as beads or buttons, or dried food such as pasta or lentils.

Experiment with different fillings and different amounts of fillings to get different sounds.


To make your own recycled Agogo you will need:

  • Two empty round containers of different sizes with metal bottoms, such as instant potato or hot chocolate tins. When you are choosing these, remove the lids (you don’t need these) and test the sound the bases make by tapping them till you find two with different notes, one higher and one lower.
  • Something to hold the containers together, such as wide rubber bands, duck tape or gift wrapping tape.
  • Something to decorate the Agogo with – paint, stickers, sticky tapes and marker pens are all suitable.
  • A ‘drum stick’ such as an old wooden spoon (you can decorate this too with paint or felt-tip pens.

This Agogo is easier to hold than traditional Agogos: experiment with the most comfortable way for you to hold it. You play the Agogo by striking the bases of the containers with the stick to create a rhythm using the higher and the lower notes. Watch Xi-mali play the Agogo for tips.


To make your own recycled Hand Drum you will need:

  • An empty round plastic tub or tin.
  • Something to decorate it with – paint, stickers, sticky tapes and marker pens are all suitable.
  • You can also tie a ribbon or cord round it to make it easier to hold.
  • Use the lid as the playing surface – leaving it undecorated gives a better sound. You can also remove the lid and stretch a piece of plastic cloth across the tub and secure it with a large wide rubber band or elastic for a different sound.

Play the drum with your hands or with a ‘drum stick’ such as an old wooden spoon — you can decorate this too with paint or felt-tip pens.

You can watch Paracarnival’s parade through Stratford Centre on 2 December 2017, with drumming, dancing and signed song, here. For more and larger ideas about how to make percussion instruments from recycled materials, see our Recycled Band page.

You can join the Recycled Band too. Share your photographs of instruments and films of you playing them with us (use free transfer sites such as Dropbox and WeTransfer to share films) at info@together2012.org.uk and we will share these with our followers on social media.