Why the bond between musicians and their instruments is so powerful

March 16, 2015
Photo: Loki in Central Park with ukulele
Loki in Central Park, New York City, with custom Mya-Moe Ukulele (before it was stolen in Washington, D.C.). 

CPR’s Hart Van Denburg blogged the story).

If you’re not a musician, you might be a bit confused at why this is news. But if you’re a musician who has ever lost an instrument, it’s possible you’re getting teary-eyed just thinking about that reunion.

This is because musicians understand that the relationship between a player and that player’s instrument is a powerful bond.

No two instruments are alike. A new instrument can inspire a different playing style, new compositions, or even lead to improved playing. As a musician, finding yourself without an instrument can be as disconcerting as waking up without an arm.

I know that if some saint appeared with news about my myrtle uke, stolen two years ago at The Velvet Lounge in  Washington, D.C., I would be overcome with feelings. It was a custom Mya-Moe ukulele, built by luthier and friend Aaron Keim. It had a finish that glimmered like the sun reflecting off a receding wave, lapping the beach at sunset. More importantly, it had a tone that was the perfect combination of brightness and warmth. So many of my favorite songs I’ve written came as a direct result of that instrument’s qualities.

I’ve been lucky in my life to have received two ukuleles as gifts. The other one was custom built by luthier Dan McCrimmon of Isle of Sky Guitars. McCrimmon was my mentor teacher when I served as a student teacher of drama at The Jefferson County Open School. The wood he used for the top was lovingly salvaged from the bench seats of the old theater. I still have it, and every time I strum it, I am reminded of the students and dedicated teachers who made that one of the best schools in the world.

But this week, as I reflect on Greenwood’s turn of good fortune, and my own luck at having an instrument on hand, I find myself thinking about those young people who have music in their hearts, but no instrument in their hands.

For these kiddos, having an instrument at home can mean the difference between developing their gifts into a lifelong passion versus giving up on music entirely.

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