A Brief History of Musical Instruments

by  Bash the Trash Environmental Arts

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All around the world, every human culture has created music of some kind or another - and musical instruments to go along with it! Take a whirlwind tour through the history of musical instruments as told from the point of view of instrument-builders. We’ll start with prehistoric evidence of the first musical instruments, then explore how instrument-makers shared ideas and technology through ancient trade routes such as the Silk Road. We’ll look at how music, culture and resources are interrelated, and how instruments take on forms that reflect the cultural needs for them, as well as the local materials used to build them. We’ll see how playing in large groups created a need for some standardization, and how instrument builders have found ways to overcome some of the weird physics problems presented by sound and music. We’ll enter in the 20th Century with the origins of the instruments that are associated with Jazz and Rock, and look at how digital technology led to Rap, Hip-Hop and Techno. Ultimately, as long as an instrument does whatever the player wants it to do - it’s a great instrument!

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About This Program


Multipoint: $220.00
Point to Point: $220.00

This workshop is intended for a single classroom, but up to 4 additional classrooms may sign in.
First classroom: $220
Up to four additional classrooms @$55 each



Target Audience

Education: Grade(s) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, Parent, Homeschool/Family , Learning PodPublic Library: Library Patrons

Minimum participants:


Maximum participants:


Primary Disciplines

Culture, Fine Arts, International, Performing Arts, Sciences, Social Studies/History, STEM, Technology/Information Science, Music

Program Delivery Mode


Booking Information

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Receive this program and 9 more for one low price when you purchase the CILC Virtual Expeditions package. Learn more

For more information contact CILC at (507) 388-3672

Provider's Cancellation Policy

If for any reason the recipient wishes to reschedule up to 24 hours before the program, Bash the Trash will make every effort to accommodate the rescheduling.

If for any reason the recipient wishes to cancel a program, there is no fee up to 24 hours before the program. Cancellation within 24 hours of program, with no rescheduling possible, entails payment of the full fee.

However, in the case of a weather or pandemic-related cancellation within 24 hours of program, please contact us and we'll work it out.

About This Provider

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Bash the Trash Environmental Arts

United States

Bash the Trash programs are about music, science, culture, arts and the environment! Centered around the concept of sustainability, we’ve been building and performing with found-object instruments for over 30 years, making connections to plastic pollution and climate change. 

Over time our programs have evolved into a wide range of musical and cultural experiences that go beyond homemade instruments. Our diverse crew of presenters offer a series of programs based on their individual artistic skills and cultural backgrounds, making connections with students through their amazing experiences. We’re eager to interact with audiences through the arts, Q&A and conversation to create true cultural and artistic exchanges. 

Hands-on instrument-building or art-making is possible in most programs using simple reused/repurposed materials. Bash the Trash offers workshop/performances and multiple-session residencies as well as fun and useful professional development for educators, all closely aligned to national and local standards. Plus Bash the Trash programs are great for special days like Earth Day, National Recycling Day and World Water Day! 

Ian Bertles

Program Details


This program will take students through a very brief and selective history of musical instruments around the globe. During the program we'll see pictures and video of some of the instruments in use, as well as seeing and hearing some Bash the Trash versions. In an optional instrument-building section we'll use some everyday student-collected materials to build a simple instrument, so that everyone becomes an instrument-builder!


During the session we will strive to find some answers to the questions below:

What is a musical instrument?
What is a musical instrument supposed to do?
What were the first instruments?
How did instruments develop over time?
How did new instrument technology travel to different regions?
What are the main groups (or families) of musical instruments?
What are some challenges that instrument builders ran into along the way?
How did instrument design affect music of the 20th and 21st Centuries?

Standards Alignment

National Standards

This program is designed to work with classroom curriculum and through art, make connections to:
Science: Sound, Energy, Environment, Climate Change, Plastic Pollution
Music: Cultural music, instrument families, resources
Cultural Studies

State Standards

Available upon request