I received the following off-list reply to my 16.11.05 posting on this
subject. The writer did not think his name was important, but I think
his thoughts are worth stating here even though anonymous:
"That is a depressing statement: that you know of no mechanical
music authorities that are willing to have trainees or even informal
students -- at any level of training or interest. Are there no more
Stan Peters around or other old timers that are not up to their
eyeballs in mechanical music work that cannot take a couple hours
a week where they live to reward in some way the interest and awe that
the a young person has for our instruments and their music? If so, the
road ahead is truly bleak.
"Cannot some of our experts, especially those who are retired,
volunteer to contact community colleges and give talks, or even
lectures in their areas of expertise? It seems that with the talk
of how important the educational aspects are of mechanical music by
COAA and, by extension the MBSI chapters, this might be a worthwhile
activity for these organizations to sponsor and for the deep pocket
collectors to consider subsidizing. The potential beneficiaries of
such knowledge and interest (young people) are everywhere.
"I haven't made a study of it, but I know that there are
universities that have B.S. and advanced degree programs in music
technology (such as Indiana-Purdue University) that would allow those
who develop academic interests in mechanical music to further hone
their skills and apply their knowledge in remarkable ways. But we are
at a beginning level where practical mechanisms are needed to reward
and provide a path for further developing that strongly-motivating
"For my part, I will try to survey what is available academically
for training in mechanical music. It seems to me, however, that before
this, there is a need first to identify able and willing folks to be
mentors for those youngsters who have the "bug" but don't know how to
"In ham radio, which is also a magnet for young people's interest,
there have long been "Elmers" -- older operators who have taken kids
under their wing, showing how they can communicate with the world and
helping them with their first radio construction projects with the goal
of having them get their FCC licenses.
"Most U.S. cities have ham radio clubs that actively welcome
youngsters and have programs that fit their interests. This has
morphed into the many electronics "maker faires" that are attended by
young people throughout the world. At the end of their careers, those
retired electronic/electrical engineers who were in ham radio when
young remember their "Elmers" as important facilitators of entering
those careers, as well as lifelong friends.
"Similarly, it would be beneficial for all of us in this hobby to
be able to show options and direct and stimulate further exploration of
newbies of any age of the wonder and pleasure of mechanical music and
the machines the produce it. We can all be "Elmers," if we wish!
Some food for thought here!
Irondequoit, New York