Donald Knaack, a percussionist known as “The Junkman” because he makes music with found junk items, works with students and the Louisville Youth Orchestra and talks about the value of using junk to create rhythms and music.
Donald Knaack is a professionally trained musician and composer who has made it his career project to make music using junk.
Knaack is a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music, is a member of the illustrious Louisville Orchestra and Buffalo Philharmonic, and has performed under Igor Stravinsky.
Knaack is a native of Louisville, Kentucky. He says his interest in “junk music” was inspired by the sounds his mechanic father made while working in the garage. He was also mentored by, and collaborated with, composer and music theorist John Cage.
1. Talk about making music using unusual items. Listen to more of Knaack’s music (found at his website Junk Music). Use items from the classroom, or have students bring junk items from home, to create rhythms and music. Discuss the unusual sounds that some items make.
2. Use the video as part of a study of recycling and re-use.
3. Research John Cage and his influence on music. Discuss how Cage might have helped inspire Knaack.