Be Our Guest: Using STEM Based Projects in the Independent Music Studio

Be Our Guest, Camps and Workshops, Group Lessons

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It’s been awhile since I have had a guest post on the blog and I’m excited to introduce our newest guest! Emily Quiles has been gaining rapid recognition in her area for being a unique piano teacher with fun ideas and programs! Recently Emily shared her experience with a Science of Music camp she held with her students. It’s been years since I’ve done this type of camp with mine so I was very interested to see what fun she was planning up her sleeve. I think you will find this post to be relevant and interesting regardless if you are an independent or classroom teacher . Take it away Emily!


Private music teachers often struggle with advertising their services to home school communities and public or private schools. One way to solve this is problem is to offer STEM based workshops or camps.

STEM education is becoming more and more popular. STEM educates students using science, technology, engineering, and math all together as one instead of four different subjects. Parents and students are now jumping at any opportunity to be involved in STEM based programs. So what does that mean for music educators? There’s science in music! Music related STEM projects allow you to advertise a STEM workshop or camp to local home school communities, prospective students, STEM fairs that are held at public and private schools, and to your current students. One super easy way to do this is through a product called Makey Makey.

What is Makey Makey?

  •  An easy-to-use invention kit that enables beginners to turn everyday objects into touchpads and use them with computers.
  •  The kit comes with a Makey Makey circuit board, wires with alligator clips, and a USB cable.How does it work?
  • Clip two objects to the Makey Makey using the wires. For example, you and a banana.
  • Connect the Makey Makey to the computer.

When you touch the banana a connection is made which will play a sound or control something on the computer.

(Funny story: I first experimented with the Makey Makey while my little brother and mom were in town visiting. I had my brother hold the ground wire and I touched the banana. NOTHING HAPPENED! I freaked out! I thought he was broken or possessed. Thought we should take him to the hospital. I was frantically tapping him on the forehead expecting it to make a sound since it works that way as well, but it still didn’t work! My mom walked in the room and said “He has to be the one to touch the bananas to complete the circuit.” My brother and I looked at each other and died laughing. Scientific method at work folks!)

What materials work with Makey Makey?

  • Any material that conducts electricity. Water, foil, food, Play-Doh, and even people!

How we used Makey Makey at Miss Emily’s Piano Lessons

Miss Emily’s Students

During our Science of Music Summer camp, my students started using the Makey Makey by connecting it to bananas to be used by the piano application found at​/. We turned six bananas into the keys C-A on the piano. They also tried using every other fruit they could find in the kitchen. They used apples, grapes, and even a watermelon. By using the scientific method, the students discovered that if they connected two wires into the same object, two notes would play at the same time. They plugged all of the wires into the watermelon to play C-A all at the same time.

Miss Emily’s students

The next day of summer camp, they decided to make a floor piano that they could play with their feet. But they didn’t stop there! They wanted to connect the floor piano to work with Piano Maestro. After a couple hours of experimentation, they figured it out! Even though we only made pianos with the Makey Makey, there are plenty of other instruments that can be made using the same methods.

How do I get started?

First, you will want to purchase a Makey Makey kit.

Next, I created a Science of Music eGuide that provides step-by-step instructions for STEM activities in the music studio. ​Have fun!


Note: You can find and purchase Emily’s Science of Music eGuide in her store.  It also includes detailed instructions on how to use the Makey Makey for the banana piano, the floor piano, and connecting the floor piano to Piano Maestro. Use promo code JUNE17 for $10 off!

Thank you Emily for sharing your fun experience using the Makey Makey!

Emily Quiles is the owner of Miss Emily’s Piano Lessons in Manhattan, KS, home of the only Music Therapy Dog in the United States. She has played the piano for 18 years and is currently learning to play the bagpipes and the ukulele. Emily holds a Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice with a minor in Entrepreneurship. She is also a commercial helicopter pilot and a Captain in Civil Air Patrol. Emily opened her piano studio in 2015 and now has 90 students. She takes an unorthodox approach to teaching piano by using whatever it takes to help the student learn new concepts. Even if that means using video games in lessons such as Minecraft.

Studio Website: ​
Studio Facebook: ​


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1 Comment

  1. Heather Nanney

    Such fun and memorable experiences you are creating for your students, Emily! I love the lab coats and safety goggles!


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