Recycled music making

Type of tool: 
120+ min
Topics addressed: 
Group dynamics
Personal development

Youth are making music instruments from waste materials. Further, they make music in different ways, depending on their needs and the informal learning goals set. Musicioning activities are followed by guided reflection and group analysis.


- overthinking the potential of waste materials for making a new useful product
- personal and group empowerment through musical expression


collaborative and interactive learning, learning based on the research and on discovering, peer to peer learning, learning through observation and follow up self-reflection, learning through artistic expression

Step by step process: 

The tool consists of three steps:
1. Making music instruments out of waste materials (also out of materials from the surrounding nature - such as stones, plants, sand, branches, pinecones etc.)
2. Making of music
3. Guided self-reflection and group analysis of a particular activity

ad 1) At the beginning, all the participants are being introduced to the main aspects of the tool and are being explained the principles and purposes of working with it. We annonuce the first activity of the tool - making of music instruments. Participant are kindly asked to use their creativity and imagination when thinking about making their own instrument out of waste and nature materials. Each participant is free to choose the materials and to make whatever music instrument they want. The time for this activity is flexible - dependant of the needs, overall time available, and abilities of the participants. It may vary from half an hour to 5-10 hours if we would like to make more complicated or more sofisticated instruments. During this process, each participant is supported with any kind of help he might need.
Ad 2) When instruments are ready, the second faze follows - music making. The use of instruments may proceed in different ways:
Song - listening, singing, playing, composing, analysing..
music improvisation
singing and performing of particular song
musical-thytmic games
music making followed with dance and movement
guided imagination..
Depending on the goals set, music making workshops may vary. Here follows the description of some examples of music making activities.
Participants use instruments to express an emotion (e.g. emotion of fear, anger, joy, love)
It may be done in different ways: everybody expresses the emotion simultaneously/one person at the time while others listen/one person at the time while others make a musical response (give a musical "support" through their musical expression)
IZO – EFFECT (accepting - trespassing - leading)
This activity is very appropriate for the groups of participants that have difficulties respecting the authority and leadership of the persons in charge, or have attention difficulties. It consists of three steps:
- accepting: the participant/group is allowed to initiate and lead the way of musitioning (to "lead the game")
- trespassing: the director accepts to be led by the participant/group, accepts the tempo, dynamics and sort of musicioning
- leading: the director slovely takes over the leadership at the sort of music making, while the rest of the group follows his lead.
ABAB paterns
Musicioning in the way of changing of A and B theme, e.g. A (quietly) - B (loudly). Such kind of activities are useful when working with persons who struggle with stereothipias, and helps them get rid of them.
Activity is usuful when working with hyperactive or persons coping with bad anger management. Music making consists of a powerful and loud beating the rhythm. Here the participants get the chance to get rid of the negative or excessive energy. The activity then transforms into the softer and calmer performance, which leads into relaxed mood.
Duration of the particular activity is flexible and adjustable to the needs of the group. Mostly, particular activity lasts several minutes, and is followed by guided self-reflexion and group analysis.
Ad 3) Guided self-reflexion and group analysis of the particular activity
Each music making activity is followed by guided questions and conversation. Some of the questions that may occur:
- Can you discribe the activity, what were we doing in it?
- what were the roles of the particular participant, what was your role in the activity?
- how did you feel? Has the activity challenged you to exit your comfort zone?
- What had you find challenging? How did you feel doing it?
- Had the activity helped raising the level of group connection?

Materials and resources: 

Waste materials: plastic bottles/bins, glass bottles, paper, carton bags, cans, bottle caps, old cd's, straws etc.
For decorating and additional strengthening of instruments: scissors, glue, decorating paper, hammer, nails, staples etc.


- Group connection and collaboration
- peer-to-peer learning
- focus and attention
- learning how to listen to others and adjusting to the group dynamics
- enhancing one's own level of self esteem and self expression
- accepting the challenge and managing new situations
- exercising self-reflexion, creative and critical thinking, managing one's own emotions
- raising self confidence and initiative
- love for the nature and ecological approach
- raising the awareness about environmental issues


- flexible and adjustable regarding: goal audience, number of participants, kind of music instruments, time of duration, place of activity, activities planned, goals set
- leader of the activities doesn't necessarily need to be musicaly educated person, although it is important for the leader to be rhytmic
- ease of making instruments: they are cheap to make, they may be very simple or more complicated, depending on time and materials available

Important: the leader of the activities needs to make a good assessment of the participants prior to organizing music activities. He needs to figure out the needs, interests and abilities of the goal audience, which should guide him at further planning the activities and setting the goals, also preparing the questions for latter self-reflexion and group analysis.

Notes for further use: 

The most important we find a good prior assessment of the goal audience. The first step of the tool activity - making of music instruments - may be a good opportunity fo getting to know the participants a little better, the leader may recognize for example:
- which participant is dominant in the group or overly intrusive (so during the second - music making activity that person may be given a more "silent" or "passive" role, e.g. the role of an active listener)
- which person is introverted, isolated, shy (during music making activity such person may be offered a more leading role or be suggested to play on a more loud/leading instrument, so to get the opportunity to get more attention and possibility to express itself)
- which person is insecure and needs additional support or empowerment by the leader of the workshop

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