The Recycled Reformation

By Ashley Light


From Broadway stages to slum streets, trash instruments are reforming musical expectations and establishing unique, new sounds for audiences around the world.  The “Recycled Orchestra” is one of the most well-known examples of trash-playing musicians.  Originating from a garbage dump in South America, this group is as authentic as it gets, playing handmade violins, cellos, saxophones, and more under the direction of a previous choirmaster.  Their instruments are made of oil cans, eating utensils, water pipes, and of course trashcans.  The story of the “Recycled Orchestra” has influenced millions through the documentary “Landfill Harmonic,” as well as the concerts and conferences they perform and speak at worldwide.


On the other end of the spectrum, “Stomp” is a thrilling Broadway show full of music and movement put on by actors who use a large variety of everyday objects including matchboxes, trashcans, brooms, and lighters.  The show was born in Brighton, UK in 1991 and has won over audiences around the world with its captivating rhythms and spectacular acrobatics.  Young people everywhere are being inspired by these groups and are starting their own trash bands. Local music groups are giving “Stomp” classes, which marry percussion on trash instruments with simple choreography and movement, and many musicians are starting their own trash bands to support charities and other organizations.


Why are trash cans becoming today’s trending instrument?  Perhaps it’s because of their affordability.  Maybe it’s the unique sound and visual interest they bring to a stage.  Whatever the case, these creative instruments are not only setting new standards for music and performance, but they’re also opening the door for anyone, young or old, rich or poor, to enter the world of music.  One merely needs a trashcan in their hands and a song in their heart.


Guest columnist, Ashley Light, is a 14-year-old home-schooled student who enjoys studying music and dance, as well as performing in numerous local musicals and productions.  She sings and plays the piano in her church worship team and aspires to be a great writer and columnist for The Kaleidoscope Weekly.

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