Re-Percussions: Making Instruments from Recyclable Objects

Re-Percussions: Making Instruments from Recyclable Objects

In this workshop, students will create original instruments and musical sculptures from recyclable and found objects. The goals of this workshop are for students to engage in the creative process by designing and constructing an original instrument of their own creation, and to discover that everyone is a musician and that music can be made anywhere, anytime, with anyone and anything. This workshop ties into the elementary curriculum areas of Music (creation of music using a variety of sound sources, using improvisation to create rhythmic and melodic accompaniments; Science (understand the physical properties of Earth materials that make them useful in different ways); and English Language Arts, as the instruments are tied to using them with song (demonstrate understanding of nuances in word meanings, determine and /or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple meaning words and phrases).

The workshop begins with a short song that makes use of the students’ voices, bodies, and raw materials in order to “tune them up.” Following the tune-up is a short discussion of how sounds come out of things (shake, tap, rub, blow, scrape, etc), and an exercise in using the students’ ‘an-ten-ae’ (fingers) to soak up ideas from their surroundings, and to stimulate creativity and inspiration. Subsequently, students begin to explore different ways of putting their materials together (sometimes in groups) to create an instrument or sculpture as well as different ways to play their creations. This occurs at each individual’s own pace. Once the instruments are done, or almost done, we gather to hear each one’s different instruments with solos. The workshop finishes with a participatory song.

Artist Background

Billy Jonas obtained a degree in music from Oberlin College. He is a composer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, performing original songs, stories and improvisations with voice, guitar and ‘industrial re-percussion’ – instruments from found, foraged and recycled objects. Billy is known for highly engaging and energetic performances. His CDs and DVDs have garnered a New York Times “Best” listing, a First Place Gold from the American Federation of Independent Musicians, multiple Parents’ Choice Gold Awards, and he and his band been were invited to play at the White House. Billy’s goal is to plant musical seeds to help grow creative, open-minded, engaged and open-hearted citizens. Using homemade and re-cyclable “re-percussion” instruments, songs that celebrate community, as well as personal and planetary ecology, his think-outside-the-box educational performances occur at schools around the country.

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