The Sound of Music

Screenshot 2016-05-13 12.38.23The idea of this challenge is to make a musical instrument using the EV3 brick. You should try to emulate the real instrument’s look and sound.

Note: Although this framed as an EV3-based challenged, it could be modified to work with other platforms, including WeDo.


Your program must play notes individually in response to sensor input.

You must use the EV3 to produce the sounds, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the sounds have to be produced by the EV3’s speaker. For example you could use the motors to produce sounds by tapping something.

Robot design

Here are some ideas to consider…

  • What does the real instrument look like?
  • What does the real instrument sound like?
  • What combination of sensors will you use?
  • How are you going to control the duration of notes?

You might like to research instruments from different parts of the world.

Hint: Don’t overlook the color sensor or even the motors…

  • A color sensor set to Reflected Light mode makes a good proximity sensor for nearby objects, such as a hand passing in front of it.
  • Motors can be used a rotation sensors, e.g. as a dial to control pitch, duration, or volume.


Here are some programming techniques that might be helpful…

  • The Sound block allow you to play a particular audio file (not mp3s sorry!), note, or tone.Screenshot 2016-05-13 12.38.23
  • You can use the Sound Editor (Tools > Sound Editor) to record and save your own sounds (e.g. using a built in microphone or a webcam.
    Screenshot 2016-05-13 12.41.13
  • You could experiment with wiring a value from, say, a Rotation or Ultrasound sensor block into the Frequency, Volume, or Duration of a Sound block set to Play Tone. In some cases, however, you will need modify these values first to get values in a usable range. For example, here the value from a Rotation sensor is manipulated using a Math block set to Advanced mode, then wired into the Frequency setting of a tone.
    Screenshot 2016-05-13 13.18.19


Your grade will be based on an average of these two criteria…

Grade Performance Creativity & aesthetics
A+ You play a duet with another team Looks like the real thing
A We can recognise the song Outstanding and easy to use
B Looks like an instrument and plays sounds Good
C Makes noises Okay
D Looks like an instrument Nothing special
F You don’t turn up Look away!


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Rob Torok

I'm a teacher in Tasmania, Australia, and have been using LEGO MINDSTORMS with my students since 2001. I'm the editor in chief for LEGO Engineering (this site) as well as the content editor for LEGO Education Australia (

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