Pedagogy and Products July 24, 2015
A new idea in picking. You find them lying on every flat surface in most music studios: guitar picks that is! Thick ones, thin ones, long ones, short ones; picks made of wood, plastic, nylon, stainless steel…Wait, stainless steel? Turns out that a company right in our own backyard in Cleveland, Ohio is making really cool guitar picks out of stainless steel, quite appropriate since Cleveland was one of the great steel cities back in the day.
Jerry Mearini-- scientist, rock guitarist, and founder of a new company Rock Hard Guitar Picks-- spent years working to create the premier guitar pick. A member of a rock band since the ninth grade, Mearini says he was torn between two desires; one was to be a rock musician and the other to find a more practical vocation to earn a living. He took the academic path, earning a PhD in physics from Case Western Reserve University. He later founded a tech company, Genvac AeroSpace Inc. and Teraphysics, which produced products for the military, but music kept calling to him. He never gave up playing the guitar and perfecting his somewhat flashy shredding style, but he kept running into the same problem: the plastic picks he used for playing were constantly breaking under the stress. Mearini says he even experimented with creating picks out of quarters, but found them to be too thick. His next step was to make picks out of plain stainless steel, but they were so tough that they kept breaking strings. He hit upon gold (or steel) when he decided to sandblast the picks to make them super thin and coat them to give them the feel of nylon. The picks are available in several styles including straight, angle, and smooth grips as well as a variety of colors.
The manufacturing process is all local and the result of a partnership with several Cleveland companies. “They’re laser-diced in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and then they tumble them in gravel at Universal Grinding,” Mearini says. “The edge is nicely rounded and it feels like a regular pick. It has a cool metal-on-metal sound. I just like to play really fast and that’s why this thing with metal picks makes sense.” He has been sending them around to guitarists around the area and the world. Cleveland shredder Neil Zaza is said to be a fan. Mearini doesn’t plan to stop with picks, however. The next phase of his design plan is to try coating pick guards, frets and other parts of the guitar to reduce wear and friction which can cause guitars to go out of tune and result in a decrease of function.
Check out the full article in the July 2 online edition of Cleveland’s Scene magazine here.
The Family that Plays Together Stays Together. Giving your children a solid basis in music is the goal of many parents who want to raise well-rounded young people. However, starting on child on the road to music education can quickly become a slippery slope of issues—how can I get my child to practice more, when should I push them and when should I sit back and let things take their course, how can I establish a listening library to expand their musical horizons, and which instrument best suits my child?
Finally, there comes one book with the answers to these as well as many other musical questions. Written by educator and parent Robert A. Cutietta, “Raising Musical Kids: A Guide for Parents,” the book even attempts to answer the age-old question of “Does music education result in a smarter child.” Cutietta even provides tips for parents to aid them in finding the right private program/teacher for their child, and work with their local school and community to help their students get the most from these programs. Aside from all the advice contained in the second edition of this book, is Cutietta’s emphasis on the value of enjoying music for its own sake. Priced right at just $24.95, you can order this revised edition from Stanton’s Music in Columbus, Ohio at www.stantons.com.
Music Education for All. For years, one of the primary worries of parents and educators is the overarching possibility of the elimination of arts education in public schools. This sword has been hanging over the heads of families for decades, prompting the creation of a variety of charitable organizations headed up by musicians, such as Save the Music, Music is Hope, All-Stars Project, Inc., and many others. Finally, however there is good news on the music education front. On July 16, the U.S. Senate passed a bill that should help to safeguard the future of music in our public schools, Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization proposal, the Every Child Achieves Act (S. 1177), by a final vote count of 81 to 17. The bill includes language that makes music and art core subjects, giving them the same value as math, science, English and other components of the standard public school curriculum.
Quoted in an article on PR Web, Chris Woodside, Assistant Director of NAfME (National Association for Music Education) says he is extremely pleased with the language and intent of the recently passed legislation. “The music education community has poured its blood, sweat, and tears into getting the Senate’s bill to this point,” said Chris. “More than 14,000 letters have been sent to Capitol Hill on behalf of music teachers and students. There is bipartisan support for music and arts in this legislation—senators from across the country are acknowledging that these subjects should be national education priorities. That’s really big, and we’re grateful.” NAfME hopes that this bill will be just the start of a continued focus on making music education a core subject in our public schools. Read the full article here. You can keep up to date with upcoming issues of P&P, as well as our other blog posts by signing up for our newsletter here. Stay in touch with us, and stay connected to more music content by following us on social media: Facebook Twitter Google+ Pinterest Instagram Keep learning!