Ring School Music & Art Teacher Collaborate to Create Recycled Instruments

Ring Elementary School music teacher, Kristen Brunacini, and art teacher, Rebecca Whitman, collaborated together to create a fun and educational project for third grade students that combined English language arts, music and art to create musical instruments from recycled products.

Before beginning the project, each class read Ada’s Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay by Susan Hood. Mrs. Brunacini heard of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay in a 60 Minutes episode.

“I was so moved by the episode, which detailed how the town of Cateura was built on a landfill. Everyone in the town worked in the landfill and the smell of the trash filled the streets. One day, a man named Favio Chavez began teaching music lessons to children but found that there were not enough instruments to go around. In Cateura, a violin is worth more than a house! That’s when they began to make instruments from recycled materials found in the landfill. This true story is full of hope and great inspiration,” said Mrs. Brunacini. “As music and art teachers, it is our responsibility to help students to cultivate a love for the arts. I also know how important it is to teach the whole child. Music, art, and literature are naturally intertwined. Movies are a great example of how these disciplines work together. Music doesn’t just happen in the music classroom just as reading doesn’t just occur in the regular classroom. It’s important to give our students experiences that are comprehensive and authentic.”

The students and staff collected a variety of items including rubber bands, water bottles, cardboard boxes, metal lids, plastic caps, containers and toilet paper rolls. Some students constructed instruments inspired by the string family by fastening rubber bands across a cardboard box. Other students created instruments inspired by the percussion family such as drums and shakers. Students were careful in selecting their materials so that the instrument made the sound they wanted. Students not only fulfilled the New York State music standard of, “constructing instruments out of material not commonly used for musical instruments,” they also worked on a multitude of skills as they first brainstormed the type of instrument they wanted to make, what materials to use, and how to create the special sound of their instrument.  Students frequently revised and edited their original design and presented them to the class.

“I liked that we got to create instruments and use our imagination,” said Ring Elementary School third grader Sophia Agafonova. “The kids in Paraguay used their imagination too and created instruments from trash.”

“The project was a lot of fun! I made an instrument that was a piano and a drum,” said Ring Elementary School third grader Annie Johnson. “I used a shoebox and Popsicle sticks for my instrument. I thought it was fun to see what other kids made and how they made it. It was cool that the kids from Paraguay made their instruments out of trash because they didn’t have enough money to buy real ones.”

posted on 03/20/2018 - filed under: Art, Elementary School, Music, Spotlight, Staff, Students