Julian Pi Day

On Pi-day, March 14, 2015 (that’s 3-14-15, the pi-day of the century), I had a party at my house (starting at 9:26 am) to show off the musical instruments I had built, inspired by circular geometry. When I saw the guest’s children playing and interacting with these musical sculptures/instruments, it became obvious to me that these instruments were meant for kids. That is, kids complete these objects. (Though I did later discover that this would require a bit more ruggedization).

SavannaChimes WillowPiBongos WillowPiPipes

Since I would be out out of town for Pi-day 2016, I settled for Julian Pi day: the 314th day of the year in the Julian calendar. This turned out to be particularly appropriate, given that the school I visited was part of Julian Charter Schools, and also for the lame pun on the famous Julian apple pie (maybe a little overrated, but still tasty). So after a brief lecture on the nature of pi and the geometry of circles I demonstrated my instruments, and then let the kids go wild.


Students playing with the Circle Guitar (refretted to play a scale based on the circle) and the Harp of Forbidden Notes (again a scale based on the geometry of shapes circumscribed into a circle)


Students playing a Pi Pipe and Pi Bongos, again based on the geometry of shapes circumscribed into circles

Middle School students playing with homemade instruments on Pi Day

Julian Pi day at a San Diego Middle School

The only instruction I gave them was that when improvising music with a group of people, it is important to listen to each other. Then they actually did it! I was surprised to see how well they coordinated their efforts and worked together to make a cohesive groove.  In hindsight it seems obvious, but these musical sculptures are an effective tool for building teamwork skills.

My favorite quote from a thoughtful young man, aged about 11, “This is interesting and different.”


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