School project

Im working part time at a school on Canvey Island as a workshop technician, on monday our head of dept asked if we could think of any projects for an after school club, she suggested bird boxes or similar. One of the first D&T projects is a small jewellery box & we always end up with loads left over that the previous years kids havent taken home. Now normally these go through the bandsaw & into the bin. Now it occured to me that one might make a Diddley bo out of one The teacher said good idea so by lunchtime i had a working one stringer. Wednesday after school 8 kids turned up & got busy, it seems the idea of a diddley bo built out of scrap appeals! As yet im not sure if the music department know about it but it will be interesting to see their reaction! I will add photos shortly. Anyone else done similar?

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  • Update on the School project.

    Billed as Junkyard orchestra its been running for 6 months now, first group of yr 7 kids built 8 diddley bo's.

    Second bunch were year 10's & i only had three of them so we were able to build some reasonable 3 string guitars based on Foxes biscuit tins. The first of these was finished tuesday afternoon & the lad who built it was trying to figure out how to get a tune out of it. He has little or no experience. Bearing in mind im running around after 7 year 7's & yr 8's i couldnt really help him, so i stuck him in front of my computer & stuck a Nigel Mctrusty tutorial on, And so shortly after this he was playing Hendrix's Wild thing like a good un. Big grins all round & i can report that he is hooked! The other lads were also suitably inspired. Real feel good moment. More diddly bo's & some weird & wonderful creations to come including a whamola. Im having to be extremely creative as the budget has just been effectively cut to zero. More government cuts mean the total spend per pupil per year on all stationery, exercise books, printing & all Art & D&T workshop materials is precisely £20 per head. This includes after school club's. So if it dont come out of a skip we cant use it. So back to the days of how to build an instrument for nothing!

    • Brilliant stuff.

      It also seems to me that this is just as rewarding to you as it is to the kids.

      Thumbs up man!

    • Postscript to the School project, we have called it a day for a while. Massive budget cuts across the board & in D&T our budget has been cut by 50%. It meant that there was no budget whatsoever for enrichment clubs. We built some interesting stuff, last group of 6 lads built a steampunk 3 stringer, a whamola, an octagonal roses chocolate tin banjo, a couple of diddly bo's & a biscuit tin 3 string fiddle, neck rescued from a smashed cheap & nasty violin, the Tin fiddle actually sounded better than some of the violins in the music room. Other aspect was numbers were dropping off as the lure of instant gratification via iphone is too much for most kids. I have a feeling that the school will drop D&T completely in the near future. Ah well it was good while it lasted!

    • That's very sad you must have a very short sighted school management.Hopefully some of those kids will follow up what you've introduced them to.

      Never mind we'll just import the next generation of CBG builders

  • That's really a great idea. Class 1 how to build a box, class 2 how to turn it into a guitar. I wish I had that in school. Mine was a pencil case from balsa and a wall clock. It didn't really inspire me. These days I wish I had paid more attention, it would sure be hàndy.

    • We have run it as an after school club with several small groups. It has stayed small which is just as well, Latest thing is music dept have got on board & its morphing into a junkyard orchestra. So a lot of assorted junk is being collected, we start building after the easter hols.

      I have collected a fair number of biscuit tins & prefabbed a lot of parts for CBG's the problem is even at the cheapest i can buy parts in at i cant build a CBG with piezo pickup, real strings & tuners for less than £10 each and there is no budget for them at all. So some creative solutions are required.I have built a couple of prototypes & got a bit of a build plan together, the CBG's will be fretless, acoustic only with zither pins or similar as tuners, even strings will have to be fishing line or wire, support blocks for neck will be stuck in the tins with polyurethane sealant such as PU40, its quick & sticks like the proverbial to a blanket & goes off overnight.

      Also the skill level of the younger kids is so low that to make a playable instrument is difficult & two staff cant do everything for them. We have our work cut out to stop them chopping their fingers! Once we get an idea of numbers things will become clearer. It will be interesting for sure!

  • Yes, that's how I started my "Make and Play" cigar box guitar workshops, working in schools. It needs a lot of preparation work to run smoothly and for the kids to get the most out of it, especially with full class groups, but it's a good cross curriculum activity. As well as the practical "resistant materials" DT thing, there's good scope for the application of practical and theoretical musical aspects, and also a bit of cultural history thrown in as well. Good luck with it.

  • Hi Keith

    I escaped from teaching in '93 after 26 years and I wish I'd known about cigar box guitars etc. while still teaching.

    If you keep things simple they will be a fantastic project for your pupils, easy and quick to build with the reward of being able to thrash out a tune with no musical experience.

    You have huge scope for developing more sophisticated builds and cross curricular links with other departments especially music.

    In a way I am quite envious, I miss teaching kids craft skills, best of luck in your venture, I can see the workshop tech' spending many hours scavenging and preparing materials 

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