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Parents Visit Middle School Music Maker Museum


Scarsdale Middle School parents got a chance to marvel at the creations made by their sixth-graders recently, visiting the Music Maker Museum, a converted space where students have been working for several months to invent their own electronic instruments.

Dr. Jessica Slotwinski has been leading the groups of students through the program, Music Maker Museum: Designing and Building Digital Musical Instruments, culminating in the museum and parent visits.

In the unit, students worked in pairs and small groups to design, create and build sound-producing instruments using a microprocessor to create the digital sounds, an interesting mix of hands-on technology and music-making. The students used Ototo, a circuit board synthesizer that made it possible for them to build their own musical instruments.

Using crocodile clips and conductive materials (aluminum foil, copper tape, electric paint and foil tape), the students designed and then built all kinds of interesting musical instruments, some with sports themes and others with more traditional themes.

Dr. Slotwinski noted that when she attended the World Maker Faire in Queens, she returned to Scarsdale with dozens of ideas for her music students. The 80 students in the program constructed prototypes, provided feedback to other teams, revised their projects, and tested the electronics throughout the process.

They were also visited in March by inventor, composer and musician Terry Dame, who brought her own invented instruments and demonstrated how she created them, how the instruments communicated with her microprocessing board (an Arduino), and how the Arduino communicated with the computer to create sound.

Parents were kept up to date through the Exploratory Music online journal, which can be found at