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Project overview

In 2015 Australian Unity has awarded a one-year grant of $25,000 to CMVic for the 4M project (Making Marimbas Making Music).The objectives were to create new opportunities for individuals to become involved for the first time in group music making activities. Activities were focussed around both the construction and playing of marimbas which have been shown through previous activities to be very appealing to both men and women, and people of all ages, including those who have had very little music playing experience in the past.

What is a marimba?

Marimbas are percussion instruments consisting of a set of wooden bars struck with mallets to produce musical tones. Resonators can be attached to the bars to amplify their sound. Marimbas are ideal self-build instruments as the major part of the construction process does not require in depth music knowledge; it is only the final stages of tuning that a specialist needs to undertake personally, and even this can be taught to those new to the process. Once built, marimbas attract people of all ages and backgrounds - take a look at this YouTube clip ( recorded at the CMVic Marimbalele Camp in 2014 (

Target participants

Whilst the project was designed to involve a broad spectrum of individuals of all ages and backgrounds, there was a particular emphasis on older men because it is this community sector that often miss out on particpatory group activities of this type. CMVic therefore worked closely with the Victorian Men’s Shed Association and established five new groups building and playing their own marimbas - at Tambo Upper, Violet Town, Wonthaggi, South Gippsland,  and Mirboo North. Men’s Sheds have become very successful in many parts of Australia, and fill a clear need for men to connect, to feel productive, to make objects that benefit the community (e.g. seating for schools, toys for children), and contribute in a very positive way to men’s mental health and social connections.  Men’s Sheds made available their facilities for the construction of the marimbas, and we hugely valued this partnership.

Each of these groups also established close links with their local schools to involve children of all ages in both the construction and playing of the instruments, and the establishment of school marimba bands to play at local festivals.

Main project outcomes

The project brought, and continues to bring, a unique opportunity to five communities to be involved in the construction and playing of high quality musical instruments. The activities in the project connected diverse groups within the larger communities involved.  These included older retired men, school teachers, community development workers, school children and their parents - the table below provides details of numbers:

Age Group



50 +



18 - 50



under 18






The groups established are continuing to thrive throught the activities of the schools involved. Over the course of the project, 20 marimbas were constructed and are regularly played by both children and adults in their communities.