Arty Smarty: Upcycled Ukulele (with turning pegs!)
On 21 June annually, every kind of musician—young and old, amateur and professional, of every musical persuasion—are encouraged to play music, and share their music with friends, neighbours, and strangers, in celebration of Make Music Day.
The fête de la musique, the “festival of music” known as Make Music Day, was created in France in 1982, and has since become a worldwide celebration of music-making. Music takes over for the day, and anyone and everyone is invited to participate, as a musician and as an audience.
Music-making is not restricted to just singing and using musical instruments! The Music Movement comprises people who experiment, and invent new instruments and ways of performing music. Are you a music maker? Remember to tag us on Instagram @bloomschoolsg and hashtag #BloomSchoolDIY, so we can see your fantastic, creative, and unique musical crafts!
If you are not already making music, let Bloom School of Music & Arts start you on your musical journey! We are one of the few schools in Singapore offering Musikgarten, USA’s leading Early Childhood music programme, for kids 0-3 years old. Musikgarten graduates can then move on to Bloom’s very own Tutti music programme. Upon completion, our students are often ready for group, or individual instrumental courses (we offer piano, violin, ukulele, guitar, and drum!)
Come visit us for more information on schedules for classes, or fill up this Online Enquiry Form, and we will get back to you!
We celebrated Make Music Day with recyclables! Here’s a throwback to our massive upcycle project, turning cookie tins and chopsticks into… *drum roll* a drum set, with a workable pedal!
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We have got another upcycle project to share with you! This time, we are making a ukulele with workable tuning pegs!
While there are limits to work with only materials that you have, it is a test of creativity and a much-needed challenge to gather inspiration! Here is an #ArtySmarty craft using materials that are relatively easy to get:
Ukulele (with tuning pegs)
I used a marker to mark out the shape of the ukulele, and the parts of the shoe box I wanted to cut out. Basically: body (shoe box), fret board-cum-head stock (kitchen roll), tuning pegs (chopsticks), strings (fishing line), bridge and saddle (thick cardboard).
I started with making the tuning pegs, since these were the least intimidating. These chopsticks will sit horizontally through the kitchen roll, so you want to make sure that they are long enough, and have at least an inch or two sticking out both ends. I used colourful thread to tie a round lashing to bind two chopsticks together to make one tuning peg.
Thankfully I had a few kitchen rolls at home because I completely destroyed the first one attempting to make the holes I needed. A penknife can’t cut it because the kitchen roll was just too thick. I used my Dremel to drill holes instead, and tried to sand down the jagged parts. It’s dust galore, so remember to mask up for this, and handle the tool with care!
This is the cross-section of the tuning pegs and the head stock. I would prefer the tuning pegs by the side, but decided that putting them at the back is a simpler mechanism to achieve.
While prepping the materials, it slipped my mind that strings require tension to work properly. And I cannot achieve tension without cardboard warping or tearing. As you can imagine, this flimsy piece of cardboard pictured didn’t last beyond the photo-taking. Still, this is the shape of the saddle and bridge for attaching the strings later on. I glued a chopstick on the underside to lessen the stress on the cardboard. Using a thicker cardboard will still be better.
The top and bottom flaps will be taped underneath the lid of the shoe box.
The kitchen roll is attached to the base of the shoe box by making vertical slits along the edge of the kitchen roll and taping it to the inside of the shoe box. Cut a groove on the kitchen roll along where the shoe box lid will cut into the kitchen roll. This might offer additional support to reduce warping.
At this stage, you can add stickers, embellishments, or paint the ukulele your favourite colour.
For each string, I tie one end of the fishing line between the two chopsticks with a Double Overhand Knot. I string it through the top line and out through the bottom line of the ‘bridge and saddle cardboard’, and tie up the other end with a Figure Eight Knot.
Once the strings are attached, it’s time to ‘tune it up’! It becomes easy to strum as long as the strings are taut.
Here is the completed ukulele to add to our collection of home-made musical instruments!
I hope you had fun reading this as much as I have planning and creating this.
It’s your turn to have a go at this! What song will you play with your new ukulele?