May 2nd, 2014

The Sweet Sounds of Creating & Playing with Music

by Jonah Holland , PR and Marketing Coordinator, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

a musical bamboo run, installed
When University of Richmond ethnomusicology professor Andy McGraw  approached the Garden last fall to see if we had any bamboo we could spare, we were thrilled.  Bamboo, as you may know, is highly invasive, and without people or pandas to eat the young shoots here at the Garden, it was growing fast. McGraw , associate professor of music, wanted his students to make, from start to finish their own instruments. When I heard about this, I have to say, I imagined flutes and recorders, I imagined xylophones, but I never ever imagined a musical marble run installation.

This is a beautiful thing. A very beautiful thing.  People and plants coming together to improve communities. The Garden get rid of an invasive species, the University of Richmond students get to learn how to engineer their own instruments, and Canterbury Community Nursery School gets a wonderful musical toy.

“This benefits the garden because bamboo can become very invasive and the University of Richmond students are helping us to control it by harvesting it. We are so glad that the bamboo can be repurposed for an educational cause,” says Director of Horticulture Grace Chapman.  What a wonderful thing they created with our invasive weeds.

Running a marble through

The students

If you’d like to learn more about the project, and see photos of last fall’s harvest, you can read about it on our blog.


Jonah Holland is Digital Content Manager at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, where she has worked for 14 years overseeing social media, the blog, and the website. She is also a mom, yogi, open water swimmer, gardener, and seeker. She's been known to go for a walk in the Garden and come back with hundreds of plant photos, completely inspired to write her next blog post.

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