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Make Music with Water Glasses

Make a Musical Water Glass Scale

You’ll need:

  • 8 identical water glasses
  • 1 plastic spoon
  • 1 jug of water
  • 1 set of measuring cups


Arrange the water glasses in a line and fill them up with varying amounts of water. Try to make the increments of water equal. For example, start with 1/8 cup of water in the first one, then fill each succeeding glass so that it has 1/8 cup of water more than the previous glass in line. Tap each glass with the plastic spoon and enjoy the sounds they make!


Experiment by changing the amount of water in each glass and hearing how the sounds change.


How to Play Mary Had a Little Lamb

At some point, when you're tired of playing scales or random notes, move on to playing an actual tune. There’s nothing simpler than everyone’s first nursery rhyme, the 3-note Mary Had a Little Lamb. Here’s how to play it with water glasses:


You’ll need:

  • 3 identical large glass tumblers or jars
  • 1 plastic spoon
  • 1 set of measuring cups
  • Water - How much water in total will you need?  Try adding up the fractions below! 
  • Masking tape and a pen for labelling


Arrange the tumblers in a line and fill them up with the following amounts of water:

Tumbler 1: 1 3/4 cups

Tumbler 2: 1 1/2 cups

Tumbler 3: 1 1/4 cups


Label the tumblers 1, 2, and 3.  Tap the glasses in the following order:







Fun Fact

Each glass makes a sound when you tap its side with a spoon (to avoid breakage, use a plastic spoon, not a wooden or a metal one) because the spoon causes a vibrating sound wave. The sound wave travels through the water in the glass and eventually reaches your ear. Each glass makes a different sound because the sound waves travel through the water at different speeds, causing vibrations at different frequencies. (Frequency refers to the number of times a sound wave vibrates per second.)


The glasses with the most water produce the lowest sounds because the sound waves travel slowest (causing the lowest frequency vibrations) through all that water. The glasses with the least amount of water produce the highest sounds because sound waves travel fastest (causing the highest frequency vibrations). In fact, when the sound waves of one note vibrate at twice the frequency of another, the two notes are exactly one octave apart!


Once you have mastered Mary Had A Little Lamb, see if you can try another nursery rhyme like Twinkle Twinkle or Baa Baa Black Sheep.