Turn Scrap Metal into Musical Instruments: Sourcing and Choosing Metal

Making musical instruments from scrap metal

In my Child’s Play Music early childhood education incursion programs I tell children that they can make music from practically anything that makes a sound – and it’s true! And if you are looking for metal to make your own musical instruments you can’t beat a real old-fashioned ‘scrappie’, a scrap yard piled high with with all sort of interesting metal bits carefully sorted by type of metal.

Metal + imagination = musical instruments

I design my instruments to be simple, safe and tough, because I work with very young children in all kinds of early childhood education and care settings here in Perth. Wherever possible I use recycled materials; I get a real kick out of upcycling scrap metal to make great sounding instruments that children love to play, and I love to spread that message of sustainability.

Stainless steel cymbals - CRASH!

Stainless steel cymbals – CRASH!

In this post I’ll be sharing with you:

  • What kind of scrap metal dealer to look for
  • The best scrappie in Perth, WA!
  • The kinds of instruments you can make from scrap metal
  • Types of scrap metal, and what instruments they are best-suited to
  • How to test the scrap metal for its sonic qualities
  • My most recent scrap yard score 🙂

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A leap of faith – Child’s Play Music goes global

To say I’m excited would be an understatement.  I’ve been selected to write a regular post for the prestigious PreK + K Sharing cooperative ECE blog!

PreK + K Sharing

I will be blogging alongside some of the greats of the ECE blogosphere, bloggers from all over the world, with thousands of influential posts to their credit.  I’m honoured – and very slightly puzzled.

Considering that my total blogging experience consists of just two posts here at Child’s Play Music that’s an amazing leap of faith on the part of Debbie Clements, PreK + K’s founder & organiser, and an ECE blogging luminary in her own right.

I’d like to think that it’s the sheer quality of my writing – the profundity and erudition of my prose – the enormous depth of my knowledge – and the sparkling originality of my ideas that made Debbie realise that I was the perfect writer for PreK & K.  However, I suspect that it was one word that made Debbie certain that I should get the nod.

That word was: deadline.

To quote from our correspondence:

Debbie: “SOOOOOOOOOOOO. It’s the 25th. At this point in time, it’s on an every other month sort of basis that I need a contribution from you, beginning next week for the 25th.”

Me: “Jan 25th! Wow that’s short notice. Trying to get that together and learn Blogger might be a bit tricky, but I’ll see what I can do.”

Debbie: “AWESOME!!!!!”

In the face of that sort of enthusiasm, what can you do?  I buckled down and wrote the damn thing.  And I think it’s pretty good.

It’s an article about why your outdoor area is the perfect place for your music program. Get music out of the classroom and outside in the dirt where it belongs! OK, that may seem a fairly strange statement: surely music is a genteel pastime, best suited to the salon, the studio and the concert hall.  Isn’t it?

Nope.  But you will have to read the post to find out why. It will be published January 25th, 5.00am EST (that’s US Eastern Standard Time). PreK + K Sharing.  You read it here first.

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Like this post? Make sure you check out the rest of my web site!

And you can find Child’s Play Music on Facebook

You might also like these blog posts:

The Best Playground in Perth – The Naturescape

Let Me Play! (Trust Me, I’m Learning)

Water Play, Music Play & Children: A Natural Combination

Water play, music play & children: a natural combination

Water play – it conjures up visions of children scooping and pouring, floating things and sinking them, measuring and washing and splashing and laughing.  Huge fun, and there are a thousand things to be learned at the water trough.  But water play … and music?  It doesn’t seem like a natural combination but it’s amazing what you can do with a few household items, some stuff from your garden shed and a water play trough!

Water play and music play with floating metal bowls

Make sure you have different sized bowls available

My first exposure to water and music wasn’t working in child care – it was watching the great percussionist Trilok Gurtu dipping gongs, bells, cymbals and sea-shell rattles into a bucket of water during a John McLaughlin Trio concert many years ago.  The unearthly tones he produced delighted me – shimmering waves of ever-changing tones that swooped up and down in pitch.

I have a very broad definition of music.  To me, music is sound organised in time.  All sounds can be music, and with water play we can explore:

  • rhythm
  • pattern
  • tempo
  • pitch
  • timbre (tone)

These are the building blocks of all music, and water offers a unique playground for exploring them.  It also offers a fantastic way to explore the science of sound in a way that is meaningful and understandable for young children.

We aren’t going to be creating songs (although singing may happen); we aren’t going to be creating performances (although that may happen too).  Instead this is about exploration and learning through the joy of free play.  It’s going to be loud, it’s going to be wet and it’s going to be fun.  Get your water play clothes on (budgie smugglers optional) and let’s get playing!

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No steak knives

Drum roll!  A flourish of trumpets!!  Cymbals!!!  Presenting the very first blog post from Child’s Play Music!!!!

Well, actually, from me, Alec Duncan, because last time I checked Child’s Play Music couldn’t type.  No, once again, it’s up to me to do the real work while Child’s Play Music gets the kudos.  Mumble, mumble, you can’t get good help nowadays, mumble, mumble …

Alec Duncan

Alec has hands for typing; Child

So what, I hear you ask, is this blog going to be about? 

I’m glad you asked that.  First it’s probably best to say what this blog is NOT going to be about:

It’s not going to be about Child’s Play Music.

No steak knives

I mean, seriously!  Does anyone really want to read a blog full of breathless product releases, self-congratulating spin, and dubious ‘news stories’ extolling the virtues of this week’s once-in-a-lifetime, never-to-be-repeated, must-end-soon special offer (with free steak knives)?  Anybody?  You in the back row, are you raising your hand? No? *****

Fine, I think we’ve got that out of the way.

Sure, Child’s Play Music will get the occasional mention, but I promise you it will be in passing and only when strictly relevant to the subject of the post.  Instead, this blog is going to be about stuff I think you will find interesting, useful, & practical; hopefully at least some of it will be amusing.

My intention is to write about my obsessions, and many of those can be subsumed under the broad heading of “early childhood education”.  Specifically, play-based early childhood education, because when it comes to early childhood education that’s the only kind that works.

No doubt this blog will mutate and grow; one thing I’ve noticed is that most blogs take a while to settle in to their stride.  Finding my voice will take time.  But to give you a taste of what I hope to cover:

Expect posts about: music play, outdoor play, nature play, water play, art play, risky play, ball play, construction play, loose parts play … expect posts about making musical instruments and implementing play-based music programs … expect posts about playgrounds and the changing face of children’s play … expect posts about the politics of education, educational reform, educational research, community attitudes to education … expect posts about child care centres, kindergartens, schools, early childhood educators and teachers … expect …

You get the idea.  My next post is going to be about incorporating music into water play. Get your swimming cossie on, get out the water play table, and let’s make music!

Stay tuned … and keep playing!

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***** Look, if you really want relentless self-promotion check my website, because I am in business, I’m a teensy bit proud of what I do with Child’s Play Music and that’s what the website is for – persuading you that hiring me would be a really, really good idea.  No steak knives, though. back

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Like this post? Make sure you check out the rest of my web site!

And you can find Child’s Play Music on Facebook

You might also like these blog posts:

The Best Playground in Perth – The Naturescape

Let Me Play! (Trust Me, I’m Learning)

Music in ECE: Yes, You Can! Part One