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State College community members turn everyday items into musical instruments

  • By Deitric Murphy/ WPSU
The Penn State Community made upcycled instruments at 3 Dots Downtown on April 5, 2022 with members of the band

 Deitric Murphy / WPSU

The Penn State Community made upcycled instruments at 3 Dots Downtown on April 5, 2022 with members of the band "Small Island Big Song." Penn State students also used upcycled instruments made from cereal boxes, glass jars and soda cans to put on a performance for atendees.

3 Dots Downtown in State College held its first “Tuesdays on the Terrace” event of the year last week called “The Upcycled Instrument Jam Session.”

Members of the band Small Island Big Song stopped by to help community members make instruments out of everyday items, like metal cans, glass jars, nails and water. About 50 people showed up to make instruments and hear an upcycled instrument concert by Penn State students.

The students blew into glass bottles, shook cereal boxes or hit soda cans for the performances. Fourth-year student Jack Tunkel primarily played a keyboard loaded with upcycled instrument sounds he’d recorded in advance.

“I also played a shaker. It’s basically just bottle caps in a box, and I shook it,” Tunkel said.

Tunkel is taking MUSIC 458 – Electronic Music Composition I, a class used to fulfill his music technology minor.

“We created compositions over the course of like two or three weeks and we were just performing them here for everybody and this band that came to visit,” Tunkel said.

Deitric Murphy / WPSU

The Penn State Community made upcycled instruments at 3 Dots Downtown on April 5, 2022 with members of the band “Small Island Big Song.” Penn State students also upcycled instruments made from cereal boxes, glass jars and soda cans to put on a performance for attendees.

The band, Small Island Big Song, is currently touring the United States for the next four months, promoting their new album “Our Island.” They have 43 members from different islands like Hawaii, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

Kan Chan Kin comes from Mauritius, which is in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar. He is also an environmental activist and wants to make people aware about pollution and solutions to it. Chan Kin said that includes upcycled instruments.

“We’re really happy to be sharing with Penn State, with all the student because we feel like all the errors that mankind has done, the future generations can fix them,” he said.

Chan Kin and the other band members also taught visitors about Indo-Pacific music.

“So in Mauritius we have a fray drum called Ravanne, but we don’t play like the Native Americans, we play with our hands,” Chan Kin said.

Penn State graduate student Joshua Mallard attended the event in support of a friend who performed. He studies music composition and really enjoyed the performances.

“One thing that events like these teach me is people with very little music experience can make some of the best things ever. So seeing these people come together, put together these amazing, really creative things is so inspiring,” Mallard said.

After the student concert, some of the attendees and the band played their instruments together, including Chan Kin and his Ravanne.

Deitric Murphy / WPSU

The Penn State Community made upcycled instruments at 3 Dots Downtown on April 5, 2022 with members of the band “Small Island Big Song.” Penn State students also upcycled instruments made from cereal boxes, glass jars and soda cans to put on a performance for attendees.

Every week 3 Dots Downtown plans to host musical performers from 5-8 p.m. for the 30-week program of the “Tuesdays on the Terrace” series, which also usually has an outdoor component. 3 Dots Executive Director Erica Quinn said they created the event last summer after being closed for more than a year.

“We really wanted to get people back together in public space. It was incredible because before the pandemic we had about 1,000 people on the space every month and then post reopening we climbed about 3,000,” she said.

Quinn hopes to get people to engage socially, while also learning about different kinds of music. She said that 3 Dots believes in active community listening and hopes to get more feedback about these events.

“We have the keys to the space, we have the sound system, we have the walls, but we want to hear from you what you think should be here,” Quinn said.

Mallard thinks these events are great for the community and that everyone should get involved.

“I think musicians should come, I think casual listeners should come. I’ll definitely be here,” Mallard said.

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