Have you ever had the chance to see a Portuguese student band playing? It’s a real treat, and whenever there’s someone in the group who’s skilful enough to play the tambourine properly, then you’ll really get to appreciate the rhythm of the music. The student who plays this instrument sometimes gives the music such a lift that it is impossible not to get caught up by it, not to feel that desire that we all have inside us to sing and dance. Tambourines may or may not have a skin, like a drum. If they do have a skin, then the musician can make the most of the two different sounds: beating the skin with his hand (the most skilful tambourine players beat it in a series of rapid movements with their elbows and knees) and shaking the metal discs, arranged in pairs around the hoop of the TAMBOURINE.




An old plastic box (make sure you don’t steal one of your mother Tupperware’s




A dovetail saw, a penknife, a hammer, a punch, a pair of pliers, a drill with a 10 mm bit and some sandpaper.




The idea behind using a round plastic box to make a tambourine is that this will be perfect for making the hoop. This will be your first task. You should use a dovetail saw, which enables you to make the most precise kind of cut. Of course, logically, the first thing you have to decide is how wide you want the hoop to be (ideally this should be about 6 cm wide).

Use a strip of paper 6 cm wide and mark a series of dots on the box with the tip of your penknife, which will act as a guide for when you’re cutting with the saw. After you’ve cut out the complete hoop, you can use the sandpaper to smooth out the rough edges left by the cutting process. The next phase involves preparing the bottle-tops. Use the hammer to flatten them out and make sure you remove the plastic seal from the inside. Make a hole in the middle of each top with the punch. Cut four slots in the plastic hoop with the pliers. Then you’ll need to use the drill to make two holes 5 cm apart. When you’ve made the holes, use your penknife to open the slot where the bottle-tops are going to b fitted in and will play together. By making two small holes, above and below the slot, you’ll be able to fix the wire in here and so you can then insert two bottle-tops into each slot.




I’m not going to give you any suggestions this time. Use your own imagination.




When you’ve got the tambourine ready and it feels right, put on a tape or a CD and you’ll soon be able to pick up and follow the rhythm. Then it’s all just like life itself:

the first fifty years are the hardest part.