Yamaha Design “Synapses” Make and Play!



Creating Musical Instruments with Objects Around the House.


Making your own musical instrument can bring an even greater sense of pleasure when you play it. We have designed a framework that lets even very young children learn to make and play their own instruments, giving even more children a formative experience that brings them in contact with music and musical instruments.


Create the shapes you like and color them any way you want. By retaining only the essence of using musical instruments to make sound, we have been able to bring out the unique personality of each child. Anywhere these experiences take place is sure to be full of the sounds of these instruments being played along with the laughter of children.


Musical instruments will be much more familiar if we can make them from materials found around the house. Offering an easily understandable set of instructions and a template that makes it simple to get started, increases the appeal of making papercraft musical instruments both in Japan and around the world.


Our “Make and Play” program aims for children to become engrossed in playing the handmade instruments they create. With this activity in mind, we created some accompaniment tracks as well that make playing even more fun. All of the children who pick up their own handmade instrument and make just the sounds they like can definitely call themselves musicians.


The children involved in this activity can find joy in the original sounds made by these instruments that they create with as few materials and steps as possible, playing these instruments through the basic actions of plucking, blowing, and hitting.

Ryo Suzuki
Ryo Suzuki
Yamaha Design Laboratory

The fascination of creating instruments with room to explore: what we can learn from children.

The foundation of this project stemmed from creativity workshops held on a private basis for children who were orphaned due to natural disasters, as well as from activities aimed at showing how you can make crafts at home. We were considering what we could do for the world, one in which people were spending increasing amounts of time at home. When the first national emergency declaration came into effect in Japan due to the COVID-19 pandemic that began in 2020, the ideas we had on the back-burner met with the opportunity to make this a reality in our company, and thus the “Make and Play” program for creating papercraft musical instruments was born.

The templates for these musical instruments can be downloaded from our website and easily made using cardboard and other materials around the home. This project took about three months from conception to release. We withheld our desire to get into the fine details and instead focused our attention on bringing the “make” and “play” aspects that would engross children in the experience. With people spending an ever-lengthening period at home, we created various prototypes for the children of our colleagues to play with, in order to speed up the project’s development. We feel that developing the project with a “live” feel that immediately reflected the children’s real-life reactions into the design was also the ideal way to make things.

The instruments we selected were easy for children to play and based on the basic actions of plucking, blowing, and hitting, including the guitar (a stringed instrument), the horn (a brass wind instrument), and the drums (a percussion instrument). By aiming for instruments with a simple construction, children are naturally able to take a fresh look at the essence of those instruments. For the trumpet, the important point we wanted to convey was that air blown into the instrument changes as it passes through the other side. Considering this, we came up with the idea to give children the experience of controlling both the sound quality and volume by overlapping two sheets of paper shaped like a megaphone and then moving one of those sheets to control the flow of air they blow out. The requirement that these instruments be easy to make at home brought a sense of flexibility to our project. At first, we wanted the drums to be circular; but this would have been harder for children to make. After considerable trial and error, we came to realize that the participants could just use the cardboard boxes they have at home from products that they purchased online and so on. From this, we were able to easily come up with designs for drums that made all kinds of sounds.

For about one year after this project saw the light of day, we held these workshops in various places including musical instruments shops, day care centers, and so on. What really surprised us is how children customized the instruments in their own way. For instance, some children added holes to the drum boxes, put beads or other objects inside to change the sound and otherwise discovered unique ways to express themselves while playing. Seeing this made us realize how fun it was to create instruments that are unfinished products, which still leave room to explore. Aside from the fact that the idea for this project could come to fruition as a Yamaha-led initiative, seeing firsthand how happy children were to get involved in this made us feel vastly more satisfied as we took this on. Based on the requests we’ve received to use these instruments in educational materials and workshops, we hope for the further growth of these activities.

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