Big outdoor musical instruments are a lot of fun. It’s possible to buy or make tunes and untuned percussion instruments. If you are buying an instrument, ask to hear a recording of the sound it makes when played. Do not purchase instruments that have an irritating sound, unless there is a distant corner of the playground where they can be tucked away.
Consider where to site the instruments. Near a performance space often works well because the music can enhance any outdoor performances. Some instruments work better under a canopy or in a sheltered space, depending on the acoustics. Also think about their use all year round. Materials expand and contract depending on the temperature and/or water that seeps into the wood or joints. This can affect the tone and sound produced.
Ensure there is space for a homemade music or sound wall near by. Washing lines for hanging up items to tap or a tree from where objects can dangle are helpful too. Have a look at the music wall video on the Filth Wizardry blog. It’s been made from unwanted items. Teacher Tom has also designed a very practical sound structure for similar purposes. A really helpful blog post comes from Amy at Child Central Station which has a step-by-step guide to the homemade instruments in her back garden which teachers or parents will find interesting.
There are many sculptors and artists who can make bespoke musical instruments at a similar price to playground equipment suppliers. Designing and inventing musical instruments makes for an interesting interdisciplinary design project.