Head Guitar

Art Science
Time 15 minutes
Age 5 & up
Group Size Less than 10
Tags Minimal Materials, Sound, String,   more...

Use your body to conduct sound!

Some concepts can be tougher for children to grasp if they just read or hear about them. When children are engaged in learning by using their own bodies as tools, not only can some concepts be more readily understood, but kids can better get to know their own physiology as well. Sound, waves and vibrations are some of the concepts children will experiment with in this activity.


Cut the string into 5-foot pieces, 1 piece for each team.

Head Guitar

Suggested Materials

  • String (100 feet)

Make it Matter

Opening Discussion

Ask if anyone in the class has ever played with a guitar before. How do you make a guitar make sounds? If you have access to a guitar, you might use it to demonstrate. Have them take a close look at a string after you pluck it. Do they notice anything? They should see that it is vibrating very rapidly. Tell them that they are going to play with vibration but instead of using a guitar—they’re going to use their heads!

The Challenge

Can you play your head like a guitar?


Make it Happen

Doing the Activity

  1. Have your students work in teams of 2 for this activity.
  2. Give each team a piece of string and describe the process below.
  3. One child should put his/her hands over his/her ears while the other child loops the string over the first child’s ears (and hands) and around his/her head. The second child should then pull the string tight (but not so tight that the other teammate is uncomfortable) and pluck the string.
  4. Have the teammates switch roles and repeat the activity.

Make it Click

Let’s Talk About It

After each team has played a little, call them together to talk about their experience. What did they hear?  Did they pluck the string in different places? Did they try rubbing it? Did that sound different?


Make it Better

Build On What They Talked About

Have your students experiment a little more after hearing from the other teams. Are there different ways of plucking or rubbing the string that makes different sounds? Does it matter where the string is on their head or how tight or loose it is?


  • When you pluck the string, it vibrates (moves back and forth very fast). The vibrations aren’t large enough to move easily through the air molecules nearby, so they have a difficult time traveling to your ears. But, when they travel through the string and then through your hands and your head, the vibrations don’t get “lost” in the air. So you hear a richer sound through your head than you do by just plucking the string alone.
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