Tuneful trash

Tuneful trash introduces the concept of STEAM as a way of authentically teaching musical concepts in the classroom in combination with Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Part 1 - Introduction: Creating tuneful trash


  • are engaged in using 'junk' found around their school to create their own instruments
  • investigate the potential sounds of found materials and experiment with different techniques of putting them together and playing to create a variety of instrumental tone colours (timbres).

With teacher guidance and research, many improvements are made as part of this journey.

'Introduction: Creating tuneful trash' video (duration 4:42 minutes) commences the journey of creating Tuneful Trash by creating musical instruments and organising sound at Chittaway Bay Public School

Looking at ways to engage in all sorts of areas regularly and strategically when they're teaching children in the classroom..

Part 2 - Introduction to organising sound

In this video Phil Rees OAM listens to the instruments the students have made and begins to construct a story based upon the tone colours of the student-created instruments. Discussions centre around the way sounds are produced and familiar aspects within the students? experiences.
These instrumental timbres begin to start a story in motion that will guide the organising sound or compositional process.

'Introduction to organising sound' video (duration 2:42 minutes)

Developing our aural skills and our listening skills.

Part 3 - Listening and performing

This video discusses ways of beginning the organising sound process.

Students :

  • are guided through a process of singing, saying, then playing using student-created sentences as chants.
  • reinforce these sentences as rhythms through movement
  • transfer these rhythms to their self-made instruments.
  • solidify their compositions by listening to each other and varying performances within their classroom
  • further explore the musical concept of dynamics (volume) as a way of enhancing their piece.

Listening and performing video (duration 2:17 minutes)

Singing and chanting to playing together.

Part 4 - Musical concepts explained

  • Students are further engaged in enhancing their compositions through the learning experiences of listening, performing and organising sound in conjunction with the musical concepts of duration, pitch, dynamics, structure and tone colour. The flexibility of the process of organising sound through creating Tuneful Trash is reinforced throughout.
  • Tone colour (timbre) is reinforced as a musical concept through discussions of the instruments created, the sounds that they make and how the sounds are produced. The instruments are grouped according to the sounds they produce and their role in telling a part of the musical story in their class composition.
  • Structure is discussed as an informal way of putting the students? compositional ideas together to create a piece. It is important to note that at this stage it is not necessary to fit in with traditional and more formal musical structures, but to think of ways in which musical ideas can be put together.
  • Duration is introduced as the beat (pulse), the rhythm (patterns), the tempo (speed), silence (rests), repetition, and metres (grouping of the beats). The links to mathematics are clear and strong.
  • Pitch is the highness or lowness of the notes and the changes in between. Activities with students such as tracing the melodic contour with hands or objects such as a parachute are great ways to demonstrate the movement of pitch.
  • Graphic notation is discussed as a way for students to record their musical compositions. This can take the form of a score that shows symbols and timings etc. This can eventually lead to more formal and traditional musical scores.

Musical concepts explained video (duration 4:43 minutes)

Listening and performing in with the concepts of music.
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