Paper towel rolls are excellent for all kinds of crafts, including making homemade instruments such as kazoos, maracas or shakers, and even unique plucking instruments. These crafts are easy enough for even preschoolers to make, and can serve as useful toys for kids of all ages to learn about music, recycling and creative art at the same time.
Decorate a paper towel roll with construction paper or markers to make a simple trumpet--just "do-to-do" into one end of the tube. Alternatively, use a hole punch to punch a single hole into one end, cover that end with wax paper, and the "do-to-do" ends up sounding more like a kazoo.
Create a didgeridoo by taping two paper towel rolls together. Then, cut a third paper towel roll down one side and re-roll the sides together so that the top is smaller than the bottom. Fit the bottom of this cone to one end of the paper towel rolls that have been taped together, and blow through the small end as through a mouthpiece.
Maracas or shakers are the easiest homemade instruments using a paper towel roll. Use the full roll or cut a roll in half, then cover the bottom with construction paper or waxed paper. Fill the tube about one-third full of rice, beans, pebbles or any other small hard objects. Cover the other end with paper, and then shake the tube to make noise.
You can also use yarn or string to tie small jingle bells in rows around one end of a paper towel rolls to make hand bells. Make a unique plucking instrument by cutting out a rectangle in one side of the paper towel roll and stretching 2-3 long rubber bands down the length of the tube over the cutout area.
Other instruments can also be created using paper towel rolls for parts. Wrap one end of a paper towel roll with some fabric padding and use it as a gong drumstick, or create a pair for homemade drum sets. Or use a paper towel roll as a guitar neck for a tissue box guitar - just glue or tape it to one end of the tissue box after stretching rubber bands over the hole in the box.