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  • Writer's pictureGHF CAT Team

Musical Bottles Symphony

Turn empty glass bottles into instruments and express yourself through music.

What you’ll need: Empty glass bottles (ideally the same size), wooden spoons, some water, paper, paper, glue or blue tac and at least one more person

What’s it for? 

This activity helps you express yourself through music as well as create and explore your favourite sounds. You can play musical bottles on your own in a one-man-band or it could be fun to create an orchestra and play with others. Working as a team can be an extremely rewarding experience that will give you a sense of belonging and bonding. It could also help you learn to appreciate different ideas and everyone’s unique qualities, while practising communication and listening skills.

Check In:

Notice how you’re feeling right now. Close your eyes and notice what’s going on inside your mind and body. 

  • How are you feeling?

  • What are you thinking? 

  • How does your body feel? 



As you know, there are many different sounds around us. Fire alarms are very loud, when you whisper it sounds soft, a voice called soprano can sing extremely high, double bass plays low. Every one of your family and friends has a different type of voice. The differences between sounds are caused by intensity (how loud or soft), pitch (how high or low), and tone (pleasant or unpleasant such as warm, mellow, squeaky, piercing etc.). When we listen to music or someone talking, it gives us different emotional responses, depending on the tone of voice or instruments played. Tone is the quality of music or speech that shows feelings or emotions. Today, you will experiment with different tones and sounds using glass bottles, water, air, and wooden spoons.


  • Gather your empty glass bottles on the table in a way you can access them easily. Share the bottles equally amongst yourselves or work together as a team when experimenting with different sounds.

  • Start with one empty bottle and try blowing over or into the top of that bottle to see how it sounds.

  • Take another bottle and fill it up to the top with water and try blowing. How does it sound now?

  • You can use a wooden spoon to gently tap on the outside or rim of each bottle to compare the sounds.

  • What differences do you notice between the sounds when you blow and when you tap both bottles? What happens when you use more air to blow or tap stronger?

  • Try filling the other bottles with different amounts of water and evaluate how the tone changes.

  • Think about the characteristics of each sound you are producing. Is it high or low? Loud or soft? Slow or fast? Piercing, warm or light? Which one is your favourite?


  • Try to think of and name some of the feelings you know and decide what feelings you would like to represent. For example: Happy, Sad, Angry, Scared, Confident, Worried, Strong, Excited, Sleepy, Frustrated, etc.

  • Think about the best sound that would reflect each feeling and how you would play that feeling on the bottles. For example: Loud, Soft, Smooth, Jumpy, High, Low, etc.

  • Using bottles and spoons, how would your music sound if you were feeling happy? What about if you were feeling angry or sad?

  • Take a moment to take turns and share your feelings through music with each other. Turn it into a game, where one person plays their chosen feeling while the others try to guess the feeling hidden in the music played by each person.


  • Now it’s time to make a symphony, which is a piece of music most often written for an orchestra. Just like different sounds and tones blend to make music, you will now come together to make an orchestra. You are about to play a Musical Bottles Symphony where all sounds, tones are equally important and fit together in one musical harmony. It is important to communicate and listen to each other.

  • Start with one person choosing the feeling while the orchestra reflects that feeling through music. For example, if the chosen feeling is ‘Sad’, you will all play a Sad Symphony. When another person shouts ‘Happy’, the orchestra plays a Happy Symphony. Take turns calling out a feeling and make sure everyone had a turn.

  • While you play music together, remember that you all have special qualities that you bring to your orchestra. Although you are all different just like the sounds you produce, you can learn to appreciate each other’s individual differences and practise teamwork to create a harmonious symphony.

Extra Activity: What would happen if the feelings could move? Use the same instruments you have just made and this time, try to express each feeling with a movement as well. For example, you can choose to jump while you play loudly to express ‘Excitement’. What else can you add to the music? How about using your voices or body percussion?

When you’ve finished, spend a moment reflecting on the activity and ask yourself the following questions

  • You have just played the Music Bottles Symphony to express different feelings. What other title could you give to the music you created?

  • How could you call your orchestra?

  • What was the most surprising sound you created? Which one was your favourtie?

  • Was it easy or difficult to play with others?

  • Was it easy or difficult to show feelings through your music? Was it easy or difficult to guess the feelings hidden in the music others played?

  • Which sound do you think reflects your own special character if you tried to compare yourself to a sound?

  • Did you learn anything new about yourself or others during this activity?

  • What are your special qualities? What about the people in your orchestra – what qualities did they bring?


This activity helps you to express your feelings through music and discover your own unique qualities. It also helps to foster stronger relationships and the ability to take turns and work as a team while learning to appreciate and accept differences.

Take a moment to notice how you are feeling at the end of this activity. Did you discover anything surprising? What can you take away to make you feel better about yourself from this activity?

If you would like to, share something about your experience with this activity with someone you live with! Ask the person who looks after you to send us an email if you have any questions or comments about the activity or would like to send us any pictures ( Don't forget to subscribe for more fun CAT activities!

Created by Karolina Koman © June 2020


Creative Arts Used: Music, Dance, Movement and Drama

Psychological Areas Explored: Resilience, Relationships, Self-Exploration, Self-Expression, Communication

These activities could be done by children of all ages, but some may need the support of their parent or carer to read the instructions or complete the activity safely.

This website was made by CAT Corner to help you explore your feelings through fun creative arts activities. The people using the website and the people responsible for them need to make sure they stay safe (full disclaimer on About page).

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