Germantown Friends School eighth grader Lia Weil presents her cardboard box and rubber-band guitar to her music class. (Photo by Laura Jamieson)

Germantown Friends School eighth grader Lia Weil presents her cardboard box and rubber-band guitar to her music class. (Photo by Laura Jamieson)

by Laura Jamieson

Germantown Friends School eighth graders scavenged kitchen cupboards, dug through old office supplies and even raided their parents’ toolboxes to create homemade instruments for music class.

The students came up with some unique creations, transforming drinking straws into pan flutes, plastic containers and jelly jars into percussion instruments and Cheerio boxes and rubber bands into guitars.

One boy made a YouTube video of the process he went through designing an intricate copper-pipe glockenspiel. A girl created a “shoe bass” with a shoebox and rubber bands – she even played a One Direction song on it! Another student made a “can-tar” with a tin can and scraps of wood, although he playfully admitted that it looked cooler than it sounded.

“I’m amazed at the sound quality of some of the instruments, especially the cardboard box and rubber-band guitars,” said music teacher Anne Hess. “Some of them are tuned to real chords.”

The class studied music as a form of storytelling, an agent of social change and a profession – both as performer and instrument maker.

“We looked at how real instruments are made and then [my students] got a chance to experiment and make something out of any materials they could find,” Hess explained. “It’s always fun to see what they come up with.”