Ken Butler's Hybrid Instruments, Maker Faire NYC 2013

Musical Instruments Made from Trash

What sounds can you make with trash? Get inspired to make your musical instruments from recycled materials – especially percussion and stringed instruments. Or if you have an instrument that is beyond repair, find fun ways to creatively reuse it.

You can listen to my podcast episode on musical instruments made from recycled materials in this YouTube video. It originally aired in April 2018.

Here’s a wonderful story from my family’s life. My daughter played clarinet for four years until her clarinet gave out. It was secondhand to begin with. We sent it to an artist who makes jewelry from recycled musical instruments named Music as Art by Sarah on Etsy. She sent us a pendant as a thank you – it’s so beautiful!

Pendant on a necklace made from an upcycled clarinet key by Music as Art by Sarah
Pendant on a necklace made from an upcycled clarinet key by Music as Art by Sarah

Performance Groups Who Make Instruments from Trash

Landfill Harmonic

Located in Paraguay, these students play in an orchestra where all the instruments have been built from a landfill, and now they travel the world.

TED talk

Scrap Arts

This Canadian music group designed instruments from a variety of trash materials, and I’m going to see them play on April 20 in Maryland at the Strathmore!

Zeke Leonard

This professor at the School of Design at the University of Syracuse is constantly inventing new ways to make instruments from trash.

Ken Butler

The photo at the top of this blog shows Ken at the World Maker Faire in New York City in 2015, when my family saw his instruments in person.

Bash the Trash

This New Jersey-based group teaches schools and community groups how to make instruments from trash.

Musical Instruments You Can Make from Trash

Visit the Trashmagination Pinterest board of musical instruments made from trash for lots of ideas!

Ugly Stick

This instrument is from Newfoundland, where I was born. It is made from a mop, rubber boot and metal bottle caps. The audio in the podcast of the ugly stick is from this video:

Video from Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism

Ugly Stick Tutorial

How to Host a Workshop to Make Newfoundland Ugly Sticks

Show Details