Wait? What’s A Canjo?

What do you do in music class when singing together inside isn’t a great idea? You make instruments!

In April, middle school students made canjos. What is a canjo you ask? It is a banjo made with a can. 

As a progressive school we prioritize learning skills through different disciplines, allowing students to explore and make connections promotes critical thinking and meaningful learning. 

Engineering In Music Class
Building instruments together encouraged students to use and practice skills and processes they learn in science. 

Prediction – They predict what will happen. What will this instrument sound like? What components of the instrument will come together to make that sound?

Build – They use a design to build the instrument. How do I build this instrument? What does it sound like? Is that what I predicted? What do I need to do to change the sound? How do other students’ instruments sound? Is the amount of tension on the string enough to create a clear tone?

Test and Redesign – They assess their final design and make adjustments. What do I do to adjust the sound? What adjustments do I make to create a clear tone and tune my instrument?

Making Music Together
Once students completed building their canjos, they started learning how to play them.

Canjos are tuned to a diatonic scale, so students learned to play songs with major key melodies, like Ode to Joy and simple folk songs.

Over the next few weeks the students worked on music composition and improvisation on their instruments.

Both at-school learners and at-home learners were able to build their canjos and successfully play them. Then they got to improvise and experiment.

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