Makey Makey #GuitarRemix Project

As a companion to sharing this with ICE via the newsletter, here you can find more information on the Picasso's Guitar Remix with Makey Makey project we did in the spring of 2016. Looking for the Global Programming Challenge wall post? Look just below this post on

Completed display for #GuitarRemix project

Completed display for #GuitarRemix project


Huge thank you to my PLN and everyone at ICE who has helped facilitate my own learning process that ultimately brings these opportunities to the students. As part of the ICE Mini-Grant in 2015-16 I was able to purchase a couple Makey Makey's for use with our Coding Kids. We also used the materials to develop some larger projects like this Makey Makey Guitar Remix. I think we did a lot of things well, but there were also a number of things that we can improve on for the next activity. I tried to highlight those two areas after the general description. Please feel free to ask questions!

Collaboration was key with this project. The idea came from discussions I had with our wonderful art teacher, Robin. Every year we look to enhance some of the art projects with technology. Two years ago we made Drawbots (more about my Build-a-Bot lessons linked soon). Last year I wanted to make art work interactive, but fit within an activity Robin already had planned. She was looking for a creative way to use paper cut-outs of guitars she already had from Oriental Trading as part of a re-imagined look at Picasso. We literally stumbled onto the final idea just from talking through our thoughts out loud. My favorite part of the process was seeing how excited the kids were to work on making their artwork interactive.

After we introduced the idea to students we showed them a very rough sample of a guitar with copper tape buttons and how the Makey Makey could connect to play sound through the computer/speakers. We recorded some sounds together as a group and then mirrored the computer through the projector to show them how Soundplant works to map the sound files. We then let them play with the guitar to test it out for themselves. They were also able to explore how the Makey Makey was connected. At the time we used alligator clips, but for the final installation we needed something longer and flatter to connect to each button. We purchased 22 AWG solid core hookup wire from SparkFun and later from Radio Shack to have enough as a backup. Just about any wire will do if it fits directly into the Makey Makey (back ports) or can attach to a jumper wire...or you can use other conductive materials - experiment to see what works best in your situation! Keep in mind the length between the object, Makey and computer as you plan.

We teamed up to work through the copper tape buttons as groups finished painting their guitars. I noted below and in the pictures that I would probably consider using brads for buttons instead of the copper tape. The copper tape proved difficult with the setup we had mounting on the glass of the display case and ensuring that the wires connected appropriately behind the guitar.

Close up view and wire examples

Close up view and wire examples

Sample with notes as requested by the outstanding Kathy McDonough

Sample with notes as requested by the outstanding Kathy McDonough


For such an ambitious project we were all thrilled with the final result. It was a museum quality installation thanks to the support and assistance not only in our building but from PLN folks across the country like Lindsay Balfour.

PLN: your commitment to infusing maker education into the community inspires me to continue working on these awesome projects with our Coding Kids (and beyond). Our ultimate goal is to work towards a community of creative and confident learners who are well versed in Invention Literacy.

What we did well:

  • Collaboration

  • Adjusted to fit what we had for the display case

  • Technology enhanced (not used for the sake of adding tech)

  • Focused on the student ideas/product

  • Shared with the community via the 3rd grade art show

What I would do differently:

  • Consider using brads for buttons instead of copper tape

  • Have students more involved in setup of sound mapping and wiring

  • Spend more time on the buttons with students

  • Work more with sound, possibly in music class

  • Start wiring earlier (including the purchase of extra wire in advance!)


Original idea mock-up for planning (did not use a pick in final project)


Painted guitar mounted on display glass for testing