Shop Etsy

The Landfill Harmonic Orchestra

Jul 12, 2013

by Alison Feldmann

“The world sends us garbage. We send back music.”

So begins the heartwarming story of a Paraguyan barrio built upon a landfill. In a slum consumed by poverty and the world’s waste, there were few resources or hope for the future. Looking to provide their children with a better life, this creative community of trash pickers came together to craft instruments out of materials they had close at hand — garbage. The result is a cello made from oil cans and violins crafted from scavenged wood. This inspiring and dynamic youth orchestra — called the Landfill Harmonic Orchestra — has attracted the attention of the world, and for good reason: they’ve found music, against the odds.

To learn more about this inspiring movement, check out Landfill Harmonic Orchestra on Facebook.

2 Featured Comments

  • erikareboucas

    Erika Reboucas from littlebigtopstudio said 6 years ago Featured

    I remember when my Mom sent me this video after she saw them perform in Brazil. This is such a wonderful story about the resilience of the human spirit, and a great reminder that when things are difficult we can, and often should, adjust our perspective. I love everything about this article, the power of music, of hope, of humanity.

  • GrowingUpWild

    Kelly Engel from GrowingUpWild said 6 years ago Featured

    Love this story outlining the human need to create. Be it music, art, dance or words- the human spirit is lifted when allowed to create despite circumstances or the tools that one would normally associate with a given craft. Thank you for sharing.

118 comments

  • haruaki

    Tiffany Key from resinjewelryHARUAKI said 6 years ago

    Too often we discount ourselves, our children, our future and our past. We get caught up in the turmoil of electricity bills and bad news on the radio. Then a film like this comes along to remind us of our truth. The capacity for human creativity is infinite and irrepressible. It is our saving grace. Thank you for sharing.

  • jessgreenleaf

    Jess Greenleaf from GREENLEAFblueberry said 6 years ago

    It just goes to show that will, vision, and creativity are the most important tools. The oil can cello sounds so beautiful.

  • mattyhandmadecrafts

    Matejka Max from NattyMatty said 6 years ago

    Bravo!!!

  • daciagreen

    Dacia Green said 6 years ago

    Beautiful!

  • valeriephoto

    Valerie from valeriestitchery said 6 years ago

    A great example of making lemons into lemonade.

  • Ellareki

    Ellareki from Ellareki said 6 years ago

    Incredible. The human spirit of innovation, imagination and creativity knows no bounds. I loved this film and truly those instruments have a genuine beauty.

  • auntjanecan

    Jane Priser from JanePriserArts said 6 years ago

    This is very inspirational and wonderful. How very great.

  • Ciaffi

    ciaffi from ciaffi said 6 years ago

    This is the most beautiful post I've read so far. Thank you!

  • CabochonCorner

    Emily H from CabochonCorner said 6 years ago

    I've seen this before! What an amazing group of people. Makes you realize how much we take for granted.

  • inspiringanchors

    Megan Braswell from inspiringanchors said 6 years ago

    They played so beautifully and it is crazy that the instruments were made from materials found in the landfill. It makes all of our "so called" problems not such a big deal when you see the conditions other people live in.

  • JewelrybyDorothy

    Dorothy from JewelrybyDorothy said 6 years ago

    Amazing!

  • debvasbinder

    Deb Vasbinder from BabyCuteBaby said 6 years ago

    What an inspiration! Thank You for sharing!

  • FrancesMarin

    Frances Marin from FrancesMarin said 6 years ago

    This made me so happy. Thank you for sharing this great story of reuse and unbounded spirits!

  • StudioDR

    Ducky Rubin from StudioDjewelry said 6 years ago

    Sincerely thrilling. It reminds me of something my grandpa used to say, that the most beautiful flowers grow in the most unexpected soil :)

  • recycledwares

    Nerrissa W from RecycledWares said 6 years ago

    This is amazing - the instruments sound so good.

  • richdon1

    Rich and Dona from TheCottageMouse said 6 years ago

    If one is not humbled by this story, I guess they never will be. Agree with HARUAKI completely.

  • sunsouljewelry

    Aisa McGann from sunsouljewelry said 6 years ago

    how beautiful!

  • Sparkleandswirl

    Hillary from Sparkleandswirl said 6 years ago

    Amazing! Thank you for sharing!

  • MorningCalm

    Hwasoon Kim from MorningCalm said 6 years ago

    Thank you for sharing, Alison. It is so touching.

  • christineshmisteen

    CHRISTINE SHMISTEEN from TheArtOfFinerThings said 6 years ago

    Wow! I love these videos.

  • christineshmisteen

    CHRISTINE SHMISTEEN from TheArtOfFinerThings said 6 years ago

    ((I got goosebumps that wouldn't quit when he started playing his can-cello))

  • MegansMenagerie

    Megan from MegansMenagerie said 6 years ago

    So amazing! The children play beautifully! I love how happy they are to play!

  • awwyeahshop

    Maki from AwwYeahShop said 6 years ago

    This really touched my heart. My family is from Paraguay and although we moved to the US when I was young, I still feel very connected to the Paraguayan culture. I love seeing my people thriving despite poor circumstances. This organization is beautiful!

  • PruAtelier

    Jeanne B from PruAtelier said 6 years ago

    It just goes to show how resourceful the human person can be, left with little but his mind and hands! How terrific...I'm going to check it out!

  • minouette

    Ele from minouette said 6 years ago

    That's just incredible... not only upcycling trash to make instruments, but the beauty of the music they can create! Thanks for sharing.

  • SewnNatural

    SewnNatural from SewnNatural said 6 years ago

    A living story of resilience and hope.

  • ikabags

    IKA PARIS from ikabags said 6 years ago

    Formidable ! Merci !

  • mvmayophotography

    Mary Mayo from MVMayoPhotography said 6 years ago

    How beautiful!

  • NicolasKnitKnacks

    Nicola and Jessica Belton from CelticKnittingCo said 6 years ago

    Absolutely fantastic, thank you for sharing!

  • DarburyCottage

    Rosemary Wascher from DarburyCottage said 6 years ago

    This is so wonderful. It all way's amazes me what people can do. It give's hope to the world.

  • ArtsyArtist

    Marianne from ShepArt said 6 years ago

    There are no limits when it comes to creating something beautiful. This is a wonderful story!

  • Sweetvintangelady

    Gladys from Sweetvintagelady said 6 years ago

    We tend to complaint about everything when we are truly rich. It is amazing to see how these people made music happen out of the trash around them. Next time I will think twice when I feel like things are not going "my way". I will remember that we can all make music. Thank you for sharing this inspiring story!

  • donnieleandro

    Donnie from DonniesDiscounts said 6 years ago

    awesome

  • 777carolala

    Caroline Barbosa from OldSoulVintageLtd said 6 years ago

    This brought happy tears to my eyes. Made my day. :)

  • uswatsons

    Sylvie Liv from SylvieLiv said 6 years ago

    There is nothing like making something lovely from something that would have been trash. But these guys take it to a whole new level! Very impressive.

  • uswatsons

    Sylvie Liv from SylvieLiv said 6 years ago

    There just is nothing like the reward of turning trash into something lovely. But these guys take it to a whole new level! Seriously impressive!

  • PippiRabbit

    Yen from PippiRabbit said 6 years ago

    Truly beautiful and touching!

  • admspeicher
  • patspottery

    Pat Parker from PatsPottery said 6 years ago

    Art flourishes anywhere and everywhere. The human spirit is unstoppable♥

  • H88255

    H88255 from HillarysSuperfoods said 6 years ago

    Wonderful video! Inspiring and thought provoking. I just love Etsy and everyone on it!

  • xutian1

    ya mo from 2013color said 6 years ago

    beautiful

  • xutian1

    ya mo from 2013color said 6 years ago

    beautiful

  • solarkiss

    Meaghan Monroe from SolarKiss said 6 years ago

    When he began to play the cello it sent shivers down my spine. I remember playing the flute starting in middle school, but I never really had an appreciation for how wonderful an opportunity it was to learn to play an instrument and read music. But because I got that opportunity I have gained a greater understanding of how powerful a role music plays in our lives from a silly commercial to a epic performance of a world-class orchestra or even my favorite, a beautifully orchestrated movie soundtrack. This story to me demonstrates the power of music: its ability to take something useless and make something beautiful and life-changing from nothing.

  • Appriser

    Appriser from Appriser said 6 years ago

    Inspiring!

  • Cafetaluv

    Yvonne Brown from Butterfliesbythemoon said 6 years ago

    I love this for so many reasons;) thank you! so much for sharing. It's AMAZING, and beautiful all at the same time.

  • SpaceMauve

    Caroline Bee from SpaceMauve said 6 years ago

    Amazing !!!!!

  • catchaleaf

    eva andrews from catchaleaf said 6 years ago

    Thank you for this heartwarming article!

  • xxxRedStitcHxxx

    ioana weber from xxxRedStitcHxxx said 6 years ago

    very inspiring, thanks!

  • RoLeeJo

    Lele from RoLeeJo said 6 years ago

    This is so amazing! My son LOVES music and all instruments. Knowing how much music has touched his life in just two short years, and seeing those kids being able to have the same feeling and enjoyment just makes me have tears of happiness for them. Thank you for sharing this video.

  • EdWilsonJewellery

    Ed Wilson from edwilsonjewellery said 6 years ago

    What a fantastic idea!!

  • handmadebycecilia

    Cecilia Escobar from HandmadebyCecilia said 6 years ago

    This is a great idea and a great example of how human creativity is infinite. In Venezuela, they have the Sistema Nacional de Orquestras, where everyone, even single child from low income class has the opportunity to experiment with Classical music, then they might enroll for free into this system. This is how now we have Gustavo Dudamel conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Great ideas are welcome! Thanks for sharing.

  • cleverhead

    Dominyka Vincaite from WondersomeThings said 6 years ago

    Today I'm coming across such beautiful works and posts and people.. and this post just adds to that! What a great video! Thank you for sharing, yet another smile on my face today! Hector Felt from my shop is also impressed... :)

  • dasheesgarden

    Christine from HittyHatty said 6 years ago

    Wonderful, wonderful story! Thank-you!

  • caratsoup

    Cara Sue from caratsoup said 6 years ago

    Like I have always said " When Love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece" This is an amazing story. Thanks for sharing.

  • erikareboucas

    Erika Reboucas from littlebigtopstudio said 6 years ago Featured

    I remember when my Mom sent me this video after she saw them perform in Brazil. This is such a wonderful story about the resilience of the human spirit, and a great reminder that when things are difficult we can, and often should, adjust our perspective. I love everything about this article, the power of music, of hope, of humanity.

  • cosetteonline

    Fai Oda from studiocosette said 6 years ago

    beautiful and touching. thank you for sharing

  • RedHedPrims

    RedHedPrims from RedHedPrims said 6 years ago

    Such a great example of those finding hope when most of us would have given up!

  • senoritasofia

    s o p h i a from MadrinaSofia said 6 years ago

    Incredible story of vision, resilience, hope and the creation of art. Thank you for sharing this beautiful inspirational story.

  • PaperAltar

    PaperAltar from PaperAltar said 6 years ago

    I began to cry as soon as Bebi began to play his Cello. Truly amazing - thank you for sharing this with the world.

  • VPDD

    VPDD from StickerSwagger said 6 years ago

    It's amazing how someone's trash can be turned into a treasure! This is the beauty of ART! :))

  • Ms2SweetVintage

    Mary from Ms2SweetVintage said 6 years ago

    Thank you for sharing this story! Amazingly beautiful!

  • KMalinka

    Natalia from KMalinkaVintage said 6 years ago

    Awesome story!

  • piccadillypastimes

    Ginger and Tim from PiccadillyPastimes said 6 years ago

    Thank you for sharing this amazing and inspiring story! Beautiful.

  • BambuEarth

    Amber from BambuEarth said 6 years ago

    ♥♥♥!!!

  • mouserrano

    Lisa Serrano Diaz from PrincessMouseyCards said 6 years ago

    Beautiful & Inspiring.

  • oldyellowhorsegifts

    yellowhorsewoman from oldyellowhorsegifts said 6 years ago

    Amazing story =) Helps to keep us all inspired as we fight our own battles, to never give up so we can not only survive but thrive so that we can help others =)

  • modflo

    modflo from modflo said 6 years ago

    thank you so much for sharing this wonderful and inspiring story...wow.

  • PennyBirchWilliams

    Penny Birch-Williams from PennyBirchWilliams said 6 years ago

    Yes, awesome! Thank you for sharing this with us. We humans create so much waste, so much trash that pollutes land and water and air, generally without a thought as to where it goes and who is affected by it. And even when you are conscious of it and want to reduce what you discard, everything we buy is encased in plastic, cardboard, etc. That families end up living among the mounds of waste in some countries is sobering. However, recycling the trash is a service to their community and the earth, so there is some balance there hopefully. This video is wonderful, showing the creative use of trash transformed into musical instruments, and slum dwellers transformed into musicians. Here's hoping that as they tour they will also transform some of their admirers into conscious consumers and willing supporters. I've liked their facebook page and shared the video. Wishing them all the best!

  • picklehead

    Karina Pryor from picklehead said 6 years ago

    Thank you so much for sharing this! I'm in tears! These kids are amazing and I'm so thankful that they have found a way to make something so beautiful out of garbage. Such an inspiring video. How sad that they have to live in a dump but how resilient they are not only by surviving but also finding beauty in their situation. I am amazed and wish them much happiness!

  • trendsna

    Sharm from TrendsNA said 6 years ago

    Very neat, and thank you so much for sharing...

  • matildecanepagonzale

    Matilde Cánepa González from matildecanepaArtnow said 6 years ago

    A great lesson .. humility and perseverance there is to learn¡¡

  • PeregrineBlue

    Constanza from PeregrineBlue said 6 years ago

    Made my hairs stand on end. What an example. Less is more.

  • Agasart

    Aga from AgasJourney said 6 years ago

    inspiring, touching, heart warming and beautiful story. Amazing. I had tears in my eyse when I was watching it. Truly amazing. Thank you for sharing

  • GeorgieGirlLLC

    D George from GeorgieGirlLLC said 6 years ago

    So inspirational!! Thank you for sharing this!!

  • PreciousCreature

    Lauren Kane from PreciousCreature said 6 years ago

    That's amazing!!

  • amusebeads

    amusebeads from amusebeads said 6 years ago

    What a wonderful story of resourcefulness and perseverance. The cello has such an amazing sound, and so symbolic- created from the detritus of the culture. Thank you for sharing!

  • cosmiksouls

    joan kelly from cosmiksouls said 6 years ago

    Incredible and inspiring !! Thanks for the share :)

  • WillowandQuinn

    Kate from WillowandQuinn said 6 years ago

    I hope Yo Yo Ma sees this!

  • GrowingUpWild

    Kelly Engel from GrowingUpWild said 6 years ago Featured

    Love this story outlining the human need to create. Be it music, art, dance or words- the human spirit is lifted when allowed to create despite circumstances or the tools that one would normally associate with a given craft. Thank you for sharing.

  • Berlinroses

    Carla Elizabeth Rose Rose from ArtistCarlaRose said 6 years ago

    " Necessity is the mother of invention " Plato

  • lowelowejewelry

    Lowe Jewelry from lowelowejewelry said 6 years ago

    Wonderful story!

  • bottlebloomers

    Leanne Stock from ArtePlastique said 6 years ago

    I'm speechless, how inspiring!

  • ZaraBanan

    zara Banan from ZaraBanan said 6 years ago

    Amazing! Thank you for sharing this story! Zara Banan

  • smeastman

    Sally Eastman from smeastman said 6 years ago

    One of the most touching, breathtaking stories that you have shared. Thank you so much.

  • meemaschneider

    Jeanne Schneider said 6 years ago

    What a Blessing to see this video!! Such beautiful sounds!! Thank you Etsy!! Its lovely to see people sparkle where others curse their darkness! Sparkle on yall.

  • treecraftdiary

    Cindy K from TreeCraftDiary said 6 years ago

    OMG! Amazing! Amazing! Amazing! Who would think of instruments made from recycled trash?? They are awesome!! Thank you for sharing this!

  • prettyamazing7

    prettyamazing7 from HandcraftedYoga said 6 years ago

    It's a great idea, but it should make us all living in the Western world think about our own human carbon footprint. Looking at that trash it is really sad how much garbage we produce nowdays. I am glad that there are still people who come up with ideas how to recycle and reuse some of that waste, but most of it will just stay there sitting on the land for thousands of years.

  • bearbird89

    bearbird89 said 6 years ago

    Wow, these people are amazing! Hard work, talent, perseverance... What joy and beauty they've found! The "refined" music is so appropriate for them, because they are worthy of the finest things in life! I believe God has beautiful songs in his heart for each one of them, and they have only begun to catch wind of it. I pray they come to know this...that we all come to know the value he places on each one of us. This was so special to get to see this....thank you for sharing it with us! Just beautiful.

  • Fimigal

    Voneen Pryce from Woolby said 6 years ago

    So amazing. Thanks for sharing!

  • MalishkaBows

    Larissa from MalishkaBoutique said 6 years ago

    This story is extremely touching. I went and found more videos to watch of this orchestra. It really makes me think of the things we take for granted. Those children say they feel so lucky to have a privilege that other kids cannot have in life and yet they live in complete poverty. And yet, we can complain about the simplest things in life not realizing how much we actually have. If only I can learn in life to take any bad situation and make beauty out of it...

  • ashleyqueen

    Ashley from ashleyqueen said 6 years ago

    Amazing!!!!! :)

  • chocolates14

    Ken and Donna Wooten from WowWeeCreations said 6 years ago

    Very Humbling..these kids know how to make treasures from trash..AND play them professionally! Bravo,, and blessings on them!

  • Senobar

    Senobar from Senobar said 6 years ago

    I really enjoyed this one! Just amazing....

  • cberez

    CB DESIGN'S from CBDesignsPR said 6 years ago

    Love it, its amazing!!!!

  • IlluminatedPerfume

    Roxana from IlluminatedPerfume said 6 years ago

    Wow, what a fantastic story!!!!!!!! Love this so much!

  • Powerofflower

    Lorena Balea-Raitz from LorenasInkDesigns said 6 years ago

    An amazing story... simply beautiful!

  • CarolAdamec

    Carol Adamec from ArtByCarolAdamec said 6 years ago

    This story was inspiring and humbling. Thank you for sharing.

  • PillowcaseHeaven

    Kathy Johnson from KathysLittleAttic said 6 years ago

    very heartwarming! thank-you for sharing

  • metroretrovintage

    metroretrovintage from MetroRetroVintage said 6 years ago

    That was a very inspirational film. Especially for those of us in First World countries, it puts everything into perspective. Thank you Alison.

  • LesCargo

    Lesley from LesCargo said 6 years ago

    Those kids sound better than any I saw in my high school orchestra! Maybe they appreciate it more and work harder. Amazing story.

  • catherinemaria

    Catherine Maria Charalambous from BouncyTree said 6 years ago

    WOW what an admirable story. So touching.

  • AltogetherLeather

    Anne from AltogetherLeather said 6 years ago

    One of my very favorite Etsy blog stories ever! :) So sweet.

  • divinecartomancy

    Bren from PsychicBren said 6 years ago

    WoW....Someone's Junk...Really is someone else's Treasure.......What a wonderful Idea.....

  • volkerwandering

    Jess from volkerwandering said 6 years ago

    Way to go! I'm so happy to see such an inspiring video! :)

  • mlezcano

    Mary Lezcano from BellaBboutique said 6 years ago

    The grip that creativity holds on us transcends our economic state and propels us to further push the boundaries and find that we can indeed make something out of nothing.

  • NirvanaRoad

    Lisa from NirvanaRoad said 6 years ago

    Fabulous story!

  • kayratastaki

    PINAR AKPINAR MALKOC from kayratastaki said 6 years ago

    Amazing

  • PrayerNotes

    Prayer Notes by Cynthia from PrayerNotes said 6 years ago

    Wonderful story, filled with hope and joy!

  • Jamibe

    Jason Michael Bennett from Jamibe said 6 years ago

    To see people in such poor deprived conditions. Where it can be so easy to give up. Not only survive. Also take the worst part of there situation, and not just make the best of it. But actually turn it into somthing positive. And do somthing they enjoy, have in common, and can share. To help the people, and literally save the earth, is more than a great thing. It's amazing what people can do.

  • topvistama

    topvistama from KleponDesign said 6 years ago

    Amazing. Inspiring. Touching. Thank you for sharing!

  • gilstrapdesigns

    Debra Gilstrap from gilstrapdesigns said 6 years ago

    Bravo!!!! This is such a good story it is so beautiful/

  • aressa

    aressa from OriginalBridalHanger said 6 years ago

    Nice story...Thanks for sharing...

  • handloomin

    Manju G from JaipurHandloom said 6 years ago

    Such a good story, Thanks for it, Very inspiring.

  • handloomin

    Manju G from JaipurHandloom said 6 years ago

    It couldn't be more interesting and better story than this.

  • dominna

    Katrina Dzerkale from Dominna said 6 years ago

    amazing story.

  • emberair

    emberair from EmberandAir said 6 years ago

    Great story

  • joanngoldberg

    Jo Ann Goldberg said 6 years ago

    What determination, talent and drive can do! This is beautiful! To make these wonderful instruments out of trash - it is awesome!!!!! Keep up the good work guys! How can I help?

  • korenkwan

    Koren Kwan from GarasuWonderland said 4 years ago

    just brilliant!

Sign in to add your own