What would happen if you looked at everyday objects just a little bit differently? What if we let curiosity and wonder be our guides as we walked through the world more often? This man in Barcelona is taking these questions to the next level, turning anything and everything around him into musical instruments. And no, we don’t mean just whacking things and calling them drums!
Musician Xavier Lozano takes creativity to new heights, turning almost any given object including a carrot, a brick, a crutch, a broom, and even a wheel from his grandmother’s wheelchair into a playable flute.
This isn’t a story of your typical musician. Instead, it’s the story of an artist who sees the potential in the mundane to create some unconventional entertainment. And his passion for looking at things a little differently can inspire any one of us to look at the world around us with more creativity and wonder.
But wait… is it really all that unconventional, after all?
This may all sound pretty otherworldly. (What do you mean he’s playing a flute made out of a carrot??) But when you really think about it, this “creating instruments out of random things” idea makes perfect sense. Wasn’t every instrument we know and love today, at some point, just a few holes punched in someone’s everyday object?
Take, for example, the oldest instrument discovered to date (hint: it’s a flute!). This 60,000 year-old flute was discovered in 1995 in Slovenia, and was made from the left thigh bone of a young bear. 1 Not an “everyday object” by today’s standards, but for Neanderthals… probably! Some of the other oldest dated instruments are also flutes, like the 40,000 year-old flute made out of a vulture bone, discovered in 2008 in southern Germany. 2 Many of the ancient flutes unearthed by today’s archaeologists are made out of bone, including Mammoth or Swan bone, but there were also those created which simply wouldn’t be preserved to today, including ancient flutes made of wood, stone, clay, or hollow reeds like bamboo. 3
So when we consider the origins of this ancient instrument, with Neanderthals and early humans punching holes in things to see what sounds they could make, Xavier’s work doesn’t seem all that outlandish, after all.
Meet Xavier Lozano
Xavier’s first flute came to be 27 years ago when he broke his leg. At the time, he was learning to play bamboo flutes from around the world and noticed, “Hey… that crutch has holes!”
So, he gave it a go, blowing into the end of a crutch and playing it just like the bamboo flutes he had come to know and love.
“Music is a human need. But we don’t always have a trumpet or a keyboard or a Stradivarius to satisfy it.”– Xavier Lozano
In his work as a gardener soon after, he took a look at a pipe that was used for irrigation systems, cut a short piece, and flattened one end using a hammer and sandpaper to create a mouthpiece. Drilling holes where his fingers naturally fell when he held the pipe, Xavier could have a playable instrument in his hands in no time. It’s such a fast process that he even created one of these pipe flutes on stage during a TEDx talk at TEDx Vicenza.
Turns out, you don’t need hundreds of dollars, precious metals, or years of training to create and play an instrument and have a little fun. All you need is the ability to look at that everyday object and think a little differently.
The materials these instruments are made out of aren’t the only thing that sets them apart. The sonic resonance of traditional instrument materials like metal or wood impacts sound waves differently than say, a carrot, making these instruments pretty unique in the sounds they create, too. And in that, these items become not just objects of utility, but also tangible expressions of human creativity and skill.
To see a few of Xavier’s creations in action, check this out:
Thank you to 60 Second Docs for this great feature. To find more incredible stories (told in just 60 seconds,) check out their YouTube channel.
There are so many ways we can integrate Xavier’s philosophy into our lives. Whether it be incorporating it into the everyday by just carrying ourselves differently and being more open; considering a creative solution when something in your house breaks, you run into an unexpected hurdle, or you are dealing with a difficult relationship; or pursuing a passion-driven career, there are countless ways to integrate this new way of thinking that could change your perspective for the better.
And outside of your own personal growth, there are lots of amazing ways to help others think differently, too! For the parents out there, consider getting your kids at school involved in a program like Odyssey of the Mind, which helps students become creative problem solvers by having kids all across the country (and the world) creatively solve problems while emphasizing teamwork, budgeting, time management, public speaking, and other essential skills. With access to a very limited budget and no parental help allowed, the solutions that kids come up with for each year’s long-term and spontaneous problems are infinite. Growing up I was a part of this program, and it helped me develop a more creative and solutions-driven way of looking at the world.
Or what if you took Xavier’s outlook more literally? Next time you’re playing with your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, or hey, anyone who’s up for a little creative fun, take a look around you and see what instrument you could create with the things you’ve already got.
“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”– Henry David Thoreau
When everything you see is filled with curious and wonderful possibilities, you’re able to make room for more joy. Here are some examples of thinking outside the box to inspire fun, laughter, and good for the world, too.
The Savannah Bananas Bring Fun and Excitement to America’s Favorite Pastime
Have you heard of the Savannah Bananas? This Georgia based team has hit a real home run with their mission: to make baseball fans first, and most of all, fun! Roasting s’mores during a game, going up to bat on stilts, and a dancing umpire are just the tip of the iceberg of antics that go on at these games. And they make this, as the Bananas like to call it, the greatest show in sports!Read Article Watch Video Listen to Podcast
Fixing Pollution Through Fun! How a Googly-Eyed Innovation is Cleaning Baltimore Harbor
With googly eyes and a beloved twitter account, Mr. Trash Wheel has become an icon in Baltimore Harbor. His story is helping us rethink the important role fun has in tackling some of the biggest problems we face!Read Article Watch Video Listen to Podcast
Feeling Stuck? Use Street Wisdom to Navigate the World with More Curiosity with David Pearl (Episode #139)
Having a reliable routine for getting fresh perspectives and ideas can be a sanity-saver and a path to opening up new potential almost every day for you. In this episode, we learn about just such a path with David Pearl, who is leading a movement—Street Wisdom—that can be an energizing, simple way to find answers to small daily quandaries and your most challenging problems. And best of all, it’s a free, ever changing way to boost your sense of joy, wonder and well-being.Read Article Watch Video Listen to Podcast
So take a look around the room you’re in, right now. Is there anything you see that has potential to be more than it seems?
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- “Neanderthal Flute.” Www.nms.si, 2014, https://www.nms.si/en/collections/highlights/343-Neanderthal-flute. Accessed 29 Sept. 2023. ↩
- Owen, James. “Bone Flute Is Oldest Instrument, Study Says.” Culture, National Geographic, 24 June 2009. Accessed 29 Sept. 2023.https://www.nationalgeographic.com/culture/article/bone-flute-is-oldest-instrument–study-says ↩
- “Woodwinds Family of Instruments: What Instruments Are Part of the Woodwinds Family?” Orsymphony.org, 2023, https://www.orsymphony.org/learning-community/instruments/woodwinds/. Accessed 29 Sept. 2023. ↩
- 60 Second Docs. “Everything’s a Flute.” YouTube, YouTube Video, 14 June 2021, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMvVsUlDTxE. Accessed 29 Sept. 2023. ↩