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The Paper Orchestra Project goes Virtual in 2020

Updated: Apr 27

Each year, Boston Music Project welcomes youth as young as four years old to begin their musical journey. Before our youngest musicians pick up real instruments, they work alongside their parents, BMP teaching artists and youth mentors to construct paper instruments, inspired by the tradition from Venezuela's El Sistema program.

BMP student builds paper instrument with parent

In many parts of Venezuela, resources to acquire real instruments are limited. As a way to keep young children engaged in the music community of their local nucelo, or community center, they make paper instruments to begin learning basic musicianship skills until a real instrument becomes available. At BMP, we have continued this tradition, each year introduce new design elements and make way for more opportunities for our families and friends of BMP to take part in this community-building experience.


Three years ago, our team was hand-cutting cardboard instrument shapes. Two years ago, with the help of a parent volunteer Ivan Nieves and executive director Christopher Schroeder, we designed a way to laser-cut the instrument shapes. Last year, students at Beaver Country Day School improved on the laser-cut designs as part of their middle school curriculum.


The focus this year was creating a step-by-step guide and design kit for building these paper instruments virtually, while still capturing a similar sense of community and connection.

Our BMP Mozart team and executive director continued last year's collaboration with middle school students and staff from the Beaver Country Day School in Chestnut Hill, MA. Beaver students worked with Beaver design coaches Amelia Walske and Nate Guevin to create paper instrument kits to be delivered to BMP families. Last week, Beaver students helped our BMP families in the assembly of the paper instruments over Zoom. They shared that their favorite part of this project was the decorating of the instruments, and seeing each student's individual creativity go into the process.


Watch a Beaver Country Day School 7th grade student wish the best to those participating in the project this year, and give some kind remarks:


Examples of the types of slides that were created to assist families in the virtual build:


Examples of vibrant, decorated instruments from this year's build.


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