Lecturers from the School of Music and the Faculty of Engineering collaborated on a project this year to develop music instruments from scrap materials. The project culminated in a performance by the North-West Youth Orchestra at Engineering’s project day where the “home made” music instruments could be heard alongside professional instruments.

Mr Hannes du Toit, facilitator for project-based teaching in the Faculty of Engineering was introduced to Dr Liesl van der Merwe, music education lecturer and conductor of the North-West Youth Orchestra, at a workshop on cooperative learning. They came upon the idea to develop music instruments from scrap materials, similar to the Landfill Harmonic in Paraguay.

Mr Hannes du Toit (Engineering) & Dr Liesl van der Merwe (School of Music)

Mr Hannes du Toit (Engineering) & Dr Liesl van der Merwe (School of Music)

The different project groups of engineering students then had to experiment systematically to produce the most useful music instruments. They also had to learn to liaise with the client, in this case a musician who knows the instrument well. For training purposes, the end product was not as important as the manner in which they approached the assignment and how they had to plan and execute the project in practice.

The violins, cello, flute, trumpet, trombone and timpani that were produced from the scrap materials clearly didn’t have the sound quality of professional instruments, but the foundation has been laid for future collaboration.

Violin made from an oil tin.

Violin made from an oil tin.

Trombone made from plastic tubing

Trombone made from plastic tubing

Cello made from a big metal drum

Cello made from a big metal drum

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