Creating Makey Makey Musical Instruments

About: I am an Edtech consultant who loves all things maker but has a serious problem with the amount of cardboard I collect for my coding projects :)

Making musical instruments with Makey Makey and Scratch


Makey Makey Classic, Alligator clips Jumper wires (clips), Brads/Paper fasteners, Aluminium Foil, Materials to create your instrument (cardboard, cups, recycled materials), Chromebook/Laptop/Desktop with Scratch Access

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Step 1: Prototyping

Things to Consider before building.

  • What type of instrument are you going to make?
  • Can you used recycled materials?
  • What sounds do you want your instrument to make?
  • Are you going to use available sounds/music or create your own?
  • Where will the Makey Makey fit on your instrument (is it attached, or just sitting beside your instrument)?
  • How may sounds will it make (remember the amount of outlets you have available on your Makey Makey)?

Step 2: Building

  • With the materials available to you, sketch out a design of what you instrument might look like.
  • What will you attach the clips to (paper fasteners, paper clips, other conductive material)?
  • Consider where the connections are going to be placed on your instrument. Do they need to be close to each other so you can reach them? How do the wires affect how you play your instrument?
  • BUILD IT!! (or you can wait until you code your instrument in the next section)
  • When adding your contact points on your instrument, don’t forget to include a spot (or consider how you will hold it) for the Earth/Ground wire from the Makey Makey to complete the circuit!

Step 3: Creating Sounds in Scratch

  1. Open a new project in Scratch.  We aren’t worried about the view pane because we are looking at making sounds, not what Scratch the Cat does on the display pane.
  2. Find/Record your music.  You are able to upload music, or use Scratch’s pre-loaded music sounds for your instrument.
  3. When using a long piece of music, and you only want each Makey Makey button to play one note or part, we will be using the sound editor that is built into scratch.

Step 4: Coding Your Instrument in Scratch

  1. Once you have your music loaded and cut into notes/sounds, it’s time to program the scripts.  We will simply two scripts. Events: When _____ key is pressed and Sounds:play sound ___.  (you may also look to use the “play sound until finished”)
  2. UPDATE: Now we can also use the new Make Makey extension blocks on Scratch 3.0. Add the extension at the bottom left of the coding blocks on Scratch and click on the Makey Makey extension.
  3. Now it’s time to assign your sounds to the Makey Makey inputs.  You will also have the option of choosing to play the sound whenever the button is touched, or playing the sound until it is done (I will often choose play sound as sometimes I need the sounds to happen quickly).

Step 5: Attaching the Makey Makey to Your Instrument.

  1. Connect all the alligator clips and jumper wires to the assigned inputs on your Makey Makey.
  2. To help with this process, use the Makey Makey planner provided to write down which Makey Makey output wires are connected to your instrument (and what sweet sounds they will play).
  3. Attach the other ends of the alligator clips to your instrument on the contact point (this would be anything conductive that you will touch to play the sounds)
  4. Time to test, redesign, test again!!
  5. Book a jam session to show off your instrument to others!



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