Staff Picks: Craft In America “Music”


Staff Picks: Craft In America “Music”
By Jessica Shaykett
November 17, 2015

Recently, we had the pleasure of screening the latest Craft in America episode, “Music,” for American Craft Council staff at the ACC Library. “Music” includes performances and interviews with ukelele maker Jake Shimabukuro and Kamaka Hawaii, Joan Baez with her C.F. Martin guitar, Scotty Barnhart of the Count Basie Orchestra with his David Monette trumpet, Rhiannon Giddens with banjo maker Jim Hartel, Tony Ellis at Stelling Banjo Works, and Los Angeles Philharmonic timpanist Joseph Pereira with mallet maker Jason Ginter.

With such a lively documentation of handmade instruments and American music history, the episode quickly became one of our favorites in the series. ACC staff had many reasons to love “Music,” and here are some we’d love to share with you:

It was fascinating to see and learn about the elaborate and precise processes that go into making all the instruments featured. In particular, the extreme level of technical skill it takes to make those trumpets was especially impressive. I had no idea! ~ Elizabeth Ryan, interactive editor

I loved that Craft in America didn’t feature the typical instruments one usually sees in documentaries like this. Understanding the passion, history, and process that goes into making each instrument gives the viewer insight into the transformative power of craft and music that they may not get from simply listening to a recording. ~ Bekka Merrill, development associate

Craft in America‘s “Music” is a joyful celebration of the extent to which a handmade instrument embodies its maker’s personal story and commitment to exacting standards. ~ Andrew Ranallo, digital producer

I was fascinated to learn that musicians such as Wynton Marsalis get a new horn every year. Also interesting: Trumpet makers such as Dave Monette don’t make instruments for the way a musician plays today but rather for how they might sound in the future as their skills improve. ~ Monica Moses, editor in chief of American Craft

It was wonderful to see how much care and passion was put into making these instruments. Across each type, the makers all shared a common love for the craft and for the sound their final products made. The processes are all so personal. The makers really put their heart into it! ~ Lauren Kebschull, strategic partnership coordinator

I can buy a fantastic necklace from a skilled and passionate jewelry artist, but I can’t turn around and use that necklace to bring attention to a cause or share a moment with a crowd in a way that touches their souls like musicians Rhiannon Giddens or Joan Baez do. Yes, the instruments that these makers create become someone’s personal possession, but they have produced an object that can, in the playing, create shared, connecting experiences for a community. ~ Elissa Chaffee, director of development

The behind-the-scenes look at how these pieces are made was utterly fascinating. I really appreciated the juxtaposition of pairing the maker with a musician who uses the instrument. The impact of those instruments on those who play them is enormous and very cool to see. ~ Rachel Kirchgasler, education coordinator

Don’t miss your opportunity to see this latest episode from the folks at Craft in America, premiering on select PBS stations Friday, November 20. Starting on November 21 you can also view the full episode online.