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Music is known in every culture around the world. Music brings people together, has the ability to capture entire moments in history, and tell personal stories. Explore the many facets of music, including the power of music and how it can reflect and relate to our culture, and how being inventive can add another level to how music is created. Let’s make music together!



Drums are a part of the percussion group of musical instruments, and are some of the world’s oldest musical instruments. There are many different types of drums from all over the world. Drumbeats provide melody and rhythm within a song. Let’s explore this instrument together.

Watch this video of different percussion instruments!


Pick up a supply kit at the library, or gather supplies.

Decorate your cardboard circles.

Glue the dowel to the middle of one of the non-decorated sides of your cardboard circle. Hold tight to make sure it is secure.

With your second circle, align the holes of both circles and use your string to secure each side. Tie a tight, double knot on each side.

Tie another knot on each side that when held against the circle will hit it in the middle. This is where your beads will hit the drum.

Once done, slide your beads onto the strings and secure them with another tight knot. Cut any excess string.

Start Spinning!

Snap a picture of yourself with your handmade drum or record a short video of you playing and share it with us on Instagram! #ypsilibrary

The damasas hand drum is an instrument from Peru, although there are many variations found around the world, including countries in Africa, Japan, India, and Tibet. Other names for this drum include tik tak, spinning drum, pellet drum, prayer drums and ratatak.

This special drum is often used in religious or spiritual ceremonies, although in some countries they are used as children’s toys or as noisemakers. For example, in Japan it is called a den-den-daiko, and has been used as a children’s toy.


Music has long played a part in our pop culture and history. A protest song is a song that speaks to social change. Among movements that have songs associated with them are the civil rights movements, the suffrage movement and anti-war movements. These songs can be any genre, including folk, rock, soul and rap. Music is powerful and speaks volumes. Let’s explore how people in the U.S have used music in protest.

The two songs below, A Change is Gonna Come by Sam Cooke and What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye, were written during the 1960s. They are two of the most well-known protest songs in the United States.

How do you feel when you listen to these songs? Are there any lyrics that you really like, or that mean a lot to you? These are older songs, talk as a family about how they are still relevant today.

Protest songs aren’t just from the past. Many contemporary musicians are speaking to the Black Lives Matter movement in their songs. Listen to Sweeter by Leon Bridges recorded in 2020. How is it different or the same as the songs from the 1960s?

NPR has a series about the history of American protest music, including a list of impactful music from the past 100 years of Black music against state violence. As always, parents should preview media or listen along and discuss each song as a family.


The music style often called jazz was created and repeatedly altered into new sub-genres by Black Americans. The music they created was often picked up by white artists who were supported by the recording industry and allowed to play at more venues, who then earned more money than the Black artists who created the style of music.

Over the years, Black jazz musicians frequently used their voices and instruments as protest and you’ll find many jazz musicians listed in the NPR We Insist recordings. Examples are when Charles Mingus wrote Fables of Faubus in protest against Arkansas governor Orval Faubus, who instructed the National Guard to prevent the racial integration of Little Rock Central High School in 1957. The lyrics say, “two, four, six, eight, they brainwash and teach you hate.” What do you think he meant?

A few years later, the great saxophonist John Coltrane wrote Alabama in response to the Birmingham, Alabama church bombing in 1963. Have you read The Watsons Go to Birmingham–1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis about the terrible event? Listen to Alabama. How does it make you feel?

I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to be Free was written in 1963 by jazz pianist Billy Taylor and recorded by Nina Simone in 1967 and served as an anthem during the Civil Rights Movement. 


Contemporary jazz often combines elements of hip hop, rap and R&B. Listen to one song from the 2020 Undefeated EP called I Can’t Breathe / Music for the Movement, 



Hey Writers! For this week’s writing exercise, we’re going to focus on protest songs. A simple Google search or scrolling through songs listed on NPR’s We Insist list will show many civil rights and protest songs. These songs unite people to fight against violence and injustice. Listen to a few songs that catch your eye.

In many songs, a certain phrase is repeated, this is called a refrain. A famous refrain in a protest song from 1989 is “Fight the power!” Try to identify the refrain in a few other songs. How do these refrains make you feel when you listen to them? Write down the emotions and images that the music sparks in you. For example, hope, anger, joy, a free bird, etc.

Now, think of yourself and your own life. What is it that you want to protest? Look at your brainstormed list of words. Think of a phrase that could be repeated in a song, like a refrain, that expresses any of the emotions you listed above. When you have your refrain, try putting it to a tune or beat of a song you heard, or you can try making your own song! Remember, you have a powerful voice too and you can use it to inspire others to strive for justice!


The Recycled Orchestra of Cateura, is an orchestra composed of children and young adults from Asunción, Paraguay who play musical instruments made from scrap and recyclable materials collected from the town’s landfill. The orchestra has gained recognition for their innovation and has performed internationally with several famous musicians like Stevie Wonder and even the heavy-metal band Metallica. Check out some of the orchestra with their creations below!

Find items around your home that you can use to make an instrument. Try making a guitar out of an empty box and some rubber bands or a shaker with paper plates and rice.

Check out Ada’s Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay from YDL.

Listen to Landfill Harmonic, the soundtrack from a documentary made about the orchestra on Hoopla.


Watch this Song Made Entirely w/ Household Items!!!!!!


Find items around your home that can make music. Make drums out of pans and utensils, blow into an empty bottle, zip a zipper, twang a rubber band. What sounds can you put together to make your own song? Don’t forget your body makes music too! Try clapping, snapping, and making noises with your mouth.  Can you add to the song by having other people in your house make different repeating sounds that add layers to the music?



Listen to contemporary jazz by local pianist Glenn Tucker while you draw. Glenn wrote the song as protest music. You can hear the intensity of the music around the time when Lidia begins to draw jagged leaves and again when she’s adding color. How does the song make you feel? Do you think your drawing is different if you draw with the music on or off?

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