The TinkerTar: For Music and STEM Learning Centers Magic

Here are some new ideas for music and STEM learning centers in the general and music classrooms using the TinkerTar!

The TinkerTar is an innovative instrument that provides a perfect starting point for kids in general AND elementary music classrooms. With a single string, its colorful fretboard, easy-to-read book, and sturdy construction, the TinkerTar is an excellent addition to any music and STEM learning center.

Designed as an alternative to the ukulele and guitar, it offers a beginning learning experience for students who may later try the guitar. Its simplicity also offers the chance for some great STEM learning as well.

The TinkerTar one-string guitar models and sound hole and neck images.

The Instrument

My Review

Color-Coded Fretboard

One of the standout features of the TinkerTar is its color-coded fretboard. Unlike Boomwhackers™️, the colors (red, orange, yellow, etc) on the fretboard represent half steps rather than a scale.

The color-coding matches the included folk songbook, making it even more accessible for young learners. The fretboard is well-designed and provides a solid foundation for understanding musical concepts such as half and whole steps.

A closeup of the TinkerTar back with access panel and strap buttons.
A closeup of the TinkerTar sound hole.
A closeup of the TinkerTar neck and fretboard with color coding.

Sturdy Construction and Easy Maintenance

The TinkerTar body and neck are made from a single piece of wood which may help with bumps and drops. Additionally, the instrument comes with replacement strings, making it easy to maintain and keep in tune. The tuning peg can be adjusted with a simple Phillips screwdriver, allowing for quick and easy tuning adjustments.

Uses In the Classroom

Versatility in the Music Classroom

The TinkerTar offers a wide range of possibilities for music education. It can be used in various ways, depending on the age and skill level of the students.

For younger students, the included book and color-coded fretboard provide a structured learning experience, enabling them to play melodies and learn basic musical concepts.

For older students, the TinkerTar can be used as a stepping stone to playing the guitar. They can learn simple folk songs and even try their hand at playing riffs and bass lines.

The Science of Sound for STEM Learning

One of the unique aspects of the TinkerTar is its ability to teach the science of sound. By placing their hands on the back of the instrument, students can feel the vibrations produced by the strings. The cut-out sound holes on each instrument (ears on the tiger 😁) start the conversation about resonator boxes and how sound travels.

The colorful fretboard shows how shortening or lengthening the string (by your finger placement on the fretboard) affects the sound. This hands-on experience enhances their understanding of sound waves and vibrations, making it a valuable tool for teaching the science behind music.

Objectives for Music and STEM Learning Centers

  • Pitch-understand how to change pitch based on the string length.
  • Vibrations-plucking, muting
  • Resonance-amplified sound, sound holes
  • Sound Waves-wavelength, frequency, amplitude

Interdisciplinary Units

What a great way to fuse music and the general ed classroom than with an interdisciplinary unit using the TinkerTar! It really is seamless and overarching.

Students use their science knowledge learned in their classroom in the music room. Then the songs, music theory, and techniques they learn in music transfer easily to their classroom.

Music and STEM Learning Centers

The TinkerTar is particularly well-suited for learning centers in a general or music classroom. While some students may spend extended periods exploring and playing with the instrument, shorter sessions of about eight minutes can be equally or even more effective.

These shorter sessions allow students to familiarize themselves with the instrument and pique their interest without becoming overwhelming. Learning centers provide a structured and engaging environment for students to discover and experiment with the TinkerTar.

Because I’d use it K-5, the investment of four instruments (a typical number for centers) would be worth it. For under $100, you could be up and running.

Playing a Bass Line


The TinkerTar is a remarkable instrument that brings a new dimension to both general and music classrooms. Its color-coded fretboard, sturdy construction, and versatility make it an ideal choice for learning centers.

Whether used as an introduction to playing string instruments or as a tool for understanding the science of sound, the TinkerTar has the potential to inspire and engage students of all ages.

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