The Musical Instrument Museum has published virtual and hands-on STEM courses


The Musical Instrument Museum offers rod-based courses for students in Kindergarten through eighth grade. The purpose of these lessons is to teach children science, engineering and math by showing them how musical instruments are made and how instruments make sound. We are discussing this with Brian Dredla. Dredla is Director of Education in Public Programs at the Musical Instrument Museum.

Before the pandemic, Dredla said he offered a popular excursion to the Musical Instrument Museum. The field visit explored the connection between science and the musical instrument. When Covid hit, they had to pivot into virtual space like many other organizations. They created virtual options like a STEM virtual tour which debuted in January.

Organology is the study of musical classification based on how they vibrate to produce sound, Dredla said. Students can learn about organology through these videos. Dredla spoke about the different instruments and how they work. He said that the basis of the STEM tour is to understand the vibrations of the instrument and the physics behind its operation. They also talk about the sound waves that are created. The tour reviews the fundamentals of sound waves which are universal in all types of music.

The visit is a practical and virtual learning experience. We talked about how they did this and how the virtual and the practical work together. Dredla said all videos come with a list of materials needed for the hands-on exploratory activity needed during the video. They build instruments together during the virtual and practical tour. They talk about the shape of instruments and help children design their own instruments. Finally, we talk about how the Musical Instrument Museum is coping with the pandemic. Many museums are in difficulty. Dredla said they were lucky to have such a huge space in their galleries so people could distance themselves socially. We also talk about the impact of the pandemic on music and people’s interest in music.

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