Makeshift Music


Trumpeter Clark Terry talked about how he learned to listen and play music on a re-broadcast of the Billy Taylor Jazz program on NPR, which I caught a portion of in my car.

Terry said that he and his friends built crystal radios to pick up music over the air. The radios were cheap and the sound was not very good. They’d set the radio in a large bowl to amplify the sound. They began imitating the sounds they heard, improvising with makeshift instruments. Terry described a “bass”, which was made with the hose from a vacuum, one end of which was placed in a large glass. His first trumpet was made from a garden hose, wound in a coil with a funnel on one end and a bit of pipe on the other as a mouth piece. Terry said they made an awful lot of noise and not much music. However, neighbors who grew tired of the noise pitched in and bought Terry his first trumpet.

Terry’s story shows how DIY can jumpstart a career.

Information about the Clark Terry program can be found on NPR in an archive of the Billy Taylor show. (I’m not sure if the program itself is available; I have trouble with RealAudio.)

I also wrote on O’Reilly Radar about our preference for the sound of MP3s in The Sizzling Sound of Music.

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DALE DOUGHERTY is the leading advocate of the Maker Movement. He founded Make: Magazine 2005, which first used the term “makers” to describe people who enjoyed “hands-on” work and play. He started Maker Faire in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2006, and this event has spread to nearly 200 locations in 40 countries, with over 1.5M attendees annually. He is President of Make:Community, which produces Make: and Maker Faire.

In 2011 Dougherty was honored at the White House as a “Champion of Change” through an initiative that honors Americans who are “doing extraordinary things in their communities to out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world.” At the 2014 White House Maker Faire he was introduced by President Obama as an American innovator making significant contributions to the fields of education and business. He believes that the Maker Movement has the potential to transform the educational experience of students and introduce them to the practice of innovation through play and tinkering.

Dougherty is the author of “Free to Make: How the Maker Movement Is Changing our Jobs, Schools and Minds” with Adriane Conrad. He is co-author of "Maker City: A Practical Guide for Reinventing American Cities" with Peter Hirshberg and Marcia Kadanoff.

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