Earlier this year, Pine Beach Elementary School received an artist residency grant valued at $1,500 from New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association and its Foundation for Educational Administration (NJPSA-FEA), a grant program sponsored by the George H. and Estelle M. Sands Foundation. After months of planning and preparation, the unique arts-integration project is taking off.

Through EcoSound, Pine Beach students K-5 are using recyclable materials to create instruments of various design. Lessons not only teach music, but the science of sound; the impact of recycled materials on the environment; and the cultural significance of certain materials and musical techniques. Pine Beach students are using their imaginations and creativity to design their instruments for functionality and to self-express, all the while learning broader curricular content.

Melanie Shantz is the artist in residence, and she has been working with Pine Beach music teacher Gregory Warren on developing and implementing a series of fun EcoSound activities. Last week, for example, students created harmonicas with popsicle sticks and rubber bands, water bottle maracas, and paper towel trumpets.

Pine Beach will host a school-wide culminating EcoSound student concert to celebrate the project in February. This past summer, the school was the site of the NJDOE grant-funded Make Art a Part (MAP) Learning Project, and Pine Beach is gaining well-deserved recognition as a district hub of arts-integration.

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Pine Beach students make music with personalized horns they created using empty bottles.

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Feb. 14, Pine Beach hosted its culminating event for EcoSound, a school-wide concert. Students performed using their own self-made instruments to the delight of parents, teachers, and staff.