The Mini Midi Controller for Kids :)



Introduction: The Mini Midi Controller for Kids :)

How to make a child's first midi controller or introduction to music!

-Uses the Tone library now, but I will add how to connect to Ableton later

Level = Easy


students in an after school program (3rd-12th grade); must be done with a facilitator. A great project for students to use simple circuits to learn basic code, information about sound, and how to use Ableton Live (later).

The Controller- There are three shapes, square (2), circle (1), triangle (1). Once connected to Ableton Live, I would like the squares to be a symbol for rhythm (the students will map it to some kind of drum output), the circle would symbolize effects (reverb, cathedral, distortion, etc), and the triangle for auxiliary instruments or samples.

Prior knowledge necessary (facilitator if working with a beginner class):

coding with Arduino IDE

using the Arduino Tone library



proper use of conductive thread

knowledge of various conductive materials

Teacher Notes

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Step 1: ​Why Did I Do This?!?

I have been teaching at a public elementary school in NYC for 2.5 years that has many low income students and limited resources. This gave me the idea to make soft midi controller that a child could build and learn the basics of Ableton Live or music in general with. I am building materials and devices that make kids excited to learn music, and teach them something with a steep learning curve in a fun way!

(pictures above are another example of a controller built)

Next Steps:

Smoother interfaces

Wearable controllers

Controllers made out of both hard and soft material.

Connection to Ableton Live or Logic.

Step 2: Materials

Conductive Thread

Copper Tape

Roofing Copper

Recycled Pleather


Solid Core Wire

Glue Gun

Soldering Iron

Wire Cutter

Glove or finger of a glove (I cut out of finger of the glove)

Arduino Tone Library

Step 3: Set Your Design!

Choose your design and use a conductive material to form it. I used copper tape, but you could use conductive thread, conductive fabric, or other conductive materials.

If you choose to use copper tape, make sure to solder all of the places where you need to make corners, and where you overlay two pieces

Step 4: Button Connections

Strip one side of your button wires .5 centimeters or so (you will need 4)

Pierce it through the backside ("ugly side") of the fabric and solder it directly onto the button.

Step 5: Ground It

Create a universal ground connection for the Piezo and the glove to use!

Solder conductive material onto the red (power) and black (ground) wires - I used roofing copper

With conductive thread, sew (or use a wire) the ground connection of your Piezo to the universal ground

Solder solid core wire to the power side of the Piezo. This will be your digital pin.

Step 6: Almost Finished!

Hot glue your piezo where you would like it to go

Like what you did for the button, Strip one side of the wire about .5 a centimeter and pierce it through the "pretty side" touching it to ground

Strip the other side of the wire and solder it to a conductive material (I used roofing copper). Once cooled, hot glue it to the glove

(your glove is going to complete the circuit for the connection to work)

Step 7: Finishing Touches and Code!

To mask solder joints on the button side for a sleeker appearance, you can put copper tape on them.

Label your pin connections on the side (if desired)

Use the code.

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