Made to be a Maker

Me in the studio (2013)

Me in the studio (2013)

I’ll never forget the day my brother, Cameron, and I came home with our all black, spruce top, acoustic guitar. Truth be told, it was his idea to split the cost and share the guitar; yet, it would end up spending its tenure in my room. We chose the color not because we were huge Johnny Cash fans but because, simply put, it looked cool. I was 15 years old and only a few years removed from my parents purchasing me my own electric guitar beginner kit which, after taking a few lessons and not practicing (I expected to be able to learn songs and skip the fundamentals — oops), my fleeting career ended. This was my chance at redemption, and I made the best of it.

I skipped the formal lessons and explored a do-it-yourself (DIY) approach, immersing myself in the online world of guitar tablature (or tabs for short) — a simple number and line method to teach guitar playing to individuals who can’t/don’t want to read sheet music. The idea was quite revolutionary to me and, although it was still just as difficult to learn the basics, I remember thinking to myself, “This time, I’m going to get it.”

Fast forward and I’ve written over 100 songs, performed at various venues in and out of my home state of New Jersey, and have had the good fortune of recording with top industry session musicians. Songwriting has become a significant part of my life, and it all began with the urge to create.

My second graduate course, CEP 811 - Adapting Innovative Technologies in Education, kicked off this past week with exploring Maker Culture, the idea that we are all fundamentally born to be makers, some of us tinkering with small projects and others creating the next groundbreaking technology. Yet, our innovative spirit relies on one another and, as filmmaker, Kirby Ferguson mentions in part one of his four-part web-series, Everything is a Remix, “Creation requires influence. Everything we make is a remix of existing creations, our lives and the lives of others” (2012). My urge to pick up the guitar, learn to play, and later write my own songs, was only possible due to inspiration from existing musicians. Further, it’s listening to other artists that fosters my desire to continue writing.

For my initial assignment, I was tasked with creating a remix video, using images and videos in the public domain only, that showcase Maker Culture in some way. What better way to do so than to explore the evolution of guitar making? I strongly recommend trying this activity for yourself as, although it was challenging, it certainly releases creativity and admiration for the maker spirit. The production process helped remind me to be grateful for all the time I’ve spent developing my craft. Of note, I used iMovie to produce the video, however there are free online video-production apps, such as WeVideo and Adobe Spark that are simple and easy to use.

Please enjoy the video below and feel free to comment with any feedback you may have! Lastly, if interested, you can listen to my music here.

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Centron Corporation (Producer). (ca. 1970). Fences and Gates (Documentary). Retrieved from

Ferguson, K. (2012, September 10) Everything is a Remix Part 1 (Documentary). Retrieved from

Gurrola, G. (2016, August 17) Acoustic guitar player in pale light (Photograph). Retrieved from

Henman, K. (2017, September 26) Untitled (Photograph). Retrieved from

Henry, M. (2017, May 6) Guitar player gear looking (Photograph). Retrieved from

Montgomery, K. (2016, May 9) Fender Jazzmaster headstock (Photograph). Retrieved from

Shea, K. (2017, January 24) Pure white electric guitar (Photograph). Retrieved from

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Wohl, J. (2013, September 2) Untitled (Photograph). Retrieved from

Wohl, J. (2017, October 27) Untitled (Audio Recording).