In most cases, students sign up one season at a time, choosing an instrument according to the students’ interest and skill levels. Most instruments will be open to beginners, as the students and instructors will work together as an instrument building team.
There are four sessions per year, each running for 12 weeks. Every week, students receive 2 hours of workshop time for a total of 24 hours of instruction with each session. Each instrument takes a different amount of time to complete. For example, building a guitar will take the entire 12 week session, whereas building both a tongue drum and a ukulele (from a kit, prepared by Instrument Shop) will take the same amount of time.
From a pile of raw boards to the completion of a beautifully finished instrument, students are taken through every step of the building process with a dedicated instructor. As the various instrument parts are shaped and fitted, students get the chance to work with dozens of common and unique tools. Students will also learn about different wood types, acoustics and sound, and will receive some basics on how to play the instrument they built.
A second, more flexible component of Instrument Shop will be offered for youth who are unable to commit to a weekly program. Students will schedule individual sessions and work on easy kit instruments (such as a percussion shaker) or participate in community instrument building projects taking place at Instrument Shop. Examples include jumping in on a run of 20 banjos built within one season, or making a pipe for a community pipe organ project. Part of the space at Instrument Shop is reserved for a large artful instrument installation that includes all the various components we work with: strings, percussion, wind, electronic, sound effects… It is built over time, especially by these kids who are not able to commit to 12 weeks at a time.
Each season culminates in a small musical celebration for the community, featuring a concert of freshly built instruments. Students are encouraged to share their instruments alongside adult musicians who will perform during this festive occasion. The hired band will hopefully play a few rollicking songs on the students’ work.