My friend and fiddler Amy Forsyth led a unique class at Lehigh this semester: imagining musical instruments. Each student was to build an instrument during the fall and Amy invited me up for an end of the semester jam with them. From flutes, kitchen pot theremin, kazoos, fluted pipes, various boxes and stringed instruments to a functional banjo.

We gathered in the stairwell in the basement of Chandler Lab (chemistry lab in my LU years) and it turned out to be the perfect place to jam. Each student demonstrated his or her instrument, their thought processes and sound experiments. There was a small Pignose amp available for instruments that used a pick up.

One enterprising student by the name of Gibson (!!) made a wood head banjo that was set up perfectly: frets, 5th string, neck, etc. so I asked to try it. I clawhammered a tune, Amy joined in on fiddle and the others tooted and banged along. I had the chance to brainstorm with Gibson, compliment his craft, gave him a short lesson on my simple, but effective frailing style.

We jammed on a Bo Diddley beat that morphed into a blues. Another LU professor joined in and we attracted various students and staff in the stairwell. I’m sure the sound was pretty cool and it was a particularly good jam, especially with the curious but untrained students. I was glad Amy asked me to help grease the session on guitar. And I got to have another bizarre Lehigh experience.

Amy’s great in inspiring young folks in the creative arts, not just music. She also teaches furniture building and is a fine graphic artist, too. Quite the renaissance woman, and a kindred spirit.

Accordion kazoo. 

Electric banger twanger.





3D printer flutes.    


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