Friday, September 06, 2013

how to...

It is so easy these days to learn how to do things if you have a few basic tools and the necessary materials. The internet provides plans for just about anything you would want to make. Still, you will need skill and experience.

This year at Clear Spring School our music teacher wants to focus on percussion using instruments that the kids have made themselves. At the high school level, since we made guitars last year, we will be making Cajones. A cajon is a drum like instrument that you sit on as you play and they've become popular among folk musicians. You can add various components to the inside to increase their resonance or vibration.

In association with this project we are going to take the high school students to the Walton Arts Center to see an exhibit of Ed Stilley's guitars and fiddles. Stilley used various experimental resonating devices inside his instruments, as you can see in the x-ray photograph shown above. On Monday, and as we are waiting for the materials to arrive, we will conduct an experimental sound lab. It may be relatively easy to make things with all the instructions available and if you have material and the necessary tools. But where do the ideas come from? Have you ever seen or imagined a guitar made like the one above? An article in National Geographic this month explores the necessity of explorers being wrong, and without taking the risk of being wrong, how can any new thing be discovered? Schools should be more about experimentation than about learning right answers.

Make, fix and create...


  1. Just as an aside, the word cajon in Spanish means crate or box, and the original favorite was the crate that salted cod was packed in. Claves were the wooden pegs used to hold ship's planks in place. And now you know the origin of those instruments which originated in the shipyards of Havana.


  2. Mario, thanks for that. Our cajones will be a bit nicer than cod crates, but it is good to know the origins. So claves are the same as what we would call trunnels?