Sketch it Play it

Sketch instruments with pencil and paper. Connect your artwork to the Makey Makey and jam out!

Gather materials

  • Graphite Pencil - "6B" artist pencil works well. Buy on amazon HERE.
  • Paper

Watch this 40 second video

Get a piano

  • CLICK HERE to open the piano in a new window in your browser.
  • Recommend using the Chrome browser from Google.
  • You may need to install Flash or Javascript.
  • Turn up your speakers!

Click once on the piano to focus the computer’s attention on the piano.

Try pushing the arrow keys and space bar on your computer’s keyboard. You should hear the piano make sounds.

Connect your Makey Makey to your computer with the included USB cable.

  • Connect alligator clips to the four arrow keys and space bar.
  • Connect one alligator clip to “Earth” for grounding people.

Create your drawing

  • Get your 8.5 x 11 inch sheet of paper
  • Use a graphite pencil (artist "6B" pencil works great)
  • Draw a design
  • Sometimes people need prompts to get started.
    • Draw your name where each letter will be a note on the piano
    • Draw a picture of a musical instrument - one you play, would like to play, used to play
    • Draw a holiday card
  • Watch the slide presentation below for some inspiration.

Looking for inspiration? See the short slide show below along with the videos.

samples of work


  • Are the lines dark enough?
  • Do the lines cross over each other? Usually beginners are recommended to keep their lines separate so that each line makes one distinct sound.
  • Is the alligator clip touching the pencil drawing nicely?
  • Are somebody’s hands just too dry? Try putting out a damp sponge for people with dry hands.
  • Have you clicked on the piano to bring browser focus to the piano?
  • Is your sound turned on? Try pushing the arrow keys directly on your keyboard and watch the piano on the screen.
  • Is the MaKey MaKey plugged in USB?
  • Are you drawing on a smooth, hard surface (like a clipboard)?
  • Are you grounded? You have to be touching ground AND touching the arrow input both at the same time.

BONUS # 1:

Create a switch. Connect the green alligator clip to the "earth" (ground) and the red alligator clip to one of the arrow keys to play one note on the piano. See images below.

BONUS # 2:

This activity can be done with water color paint. Just add some table salt to the water. The circuits only work when the paint is wet.

Imagine giving large groups of people an opportunity to build their own instrument out of paper and pencil. CLICK HERE to access a PDF outlining all the lead-it-yourself directions.