Parents know how hard it can be to get their children to study a musical instrument. Now try getting them to build one.
The High Desert Museum recently joined forces with Sunriver's Three Rivers Elementary School to do just that. And it worked, with fourth and fifth graders churning out finished products including drums, pan flutes, xylophones and cardboard box guitars. This impressive learning experience required a combined effort of teachers, museum staff, musicians and one local music store.
"Each month a musician, (Bend's) Matt Gwinup, would visit the classes, bring multiple instruments and teach about them," says the museum's Curator of Education, Carolyn Nesbitt. "Then the following week I would come and lead a hands-on science and engineering lesson that typically ended in homemade instruments." Bend's DIY Cave also pitched in to help, as did Breedlove Guitars, which gave a presentation on professional guitar making to each class.
It's all part of the museum's annual "Kids Curate" exhibit, with a goal of integrating science and art into the school curriculum. "Students learned about the science of sound and vibrations," says Nesbitt. "They learned how professional companies make guitars and how to use different tools to make instruments."
Students also discovered how technology plays a role in essential musical components such as amplifiers.
Nesbitt says the students' intense focus came as a pleasant surprise. "They were excited each time we visited their classroom and were enthusiastic about the activities," she says. "I was also surprised by some of their dedication to the project. A few students made instruments at home to be put on exhibit."
The Kids Curate exhibit is up through June 4.
The High Desert Museum
59800 South Hwy 97, Bend