The Instrumental Tree is a series of musical instruments installed onto a tree in front of Cambridge Public Library that is a fun and interactive way for young people to engage in musical education. Users are presented with multi-colored instruments paired with a leveled system of sheet music that aims to make the reading of music less daunting.
The installation brings music education into a space that people usually don't associate with music, for example, a tree. The higher you climb into the tree the more difficult an instrument there is, Which brings a connection between achievement and music. With this connection, people can be more excited to make music and have a positive connotation connected to it. Paired with the leveled system, this causes the reading of sheet music to be less difficult and allows people to try who would not normally try.
Because parents and educators often think that the arts are unrealistic and unnecessary due to No Child Left Behind and school budget cuts, they are the first programs to be cut or suffer a lack of funding. It has been proven that children who take some form of art are more likely to do better in school and have reduced stress levels - art and music help to lower cortisol, the chemical that controls stress levels. Introducing kids to music at a young age can be deeply beneficial. In toddlers and infants, music helps the formation of language, the development of motor skills and self-expression. In older kids and adults it aids memory and dexterity.
The Instrumental Tree exposes kids to all parts of music while integrating their innate desire to explore. The project consists of a harp out of a disk-shaped object, a xylophone, and some castanets that are implanted into a tree. The harp and xylophone are strapped to the branches using clips and the castanets are attached and hung from the weeping willow branches. There are also folders with instructions on how to read traditional music notation both pitched and unpitched. The colors are an easy-to-read way to begin to understand notation as there is a graduation system: fist there is just colored dots then those dots are put on a staff. After that, they graduate to reading note names and finally, they read regular notation. As the child climbs higher the notation will grow harder slowly making them more independent. All in all, this project teaches and engages children in a creative outlet that school or parents might not otherwise encourage.