News / Arts & Entertainment

Artist/Musician Invents Easy-to-Play Instrument

Artist/Musician Invents Easy-to-Play Instrumenti
X
May 03, 2013 8:38 PM
The annual Smithsonian Craft Show in Washington, D.C., is the most prestigious show of its kind in the U.S. - and one of the most difficult for artists to get into. This year, more than 120 craft artists working in 12 different media - from furniture to glass and wearable art - displayed their work in the historic National Building Museum. VOA’s Julie Taboh spoke with one of the artists, Bob McNally, who considers himself both an artist and a musician. He invented the instrument he calls a Strumstick.
Artist/Musician Invents Easy-to-Play Instrument
Bob McNally, who considers himself both an artist and a musician, put both of those talents to use when he developed the Strumstick, an instrument that looks a little like a guitar, only with  a long, narrow neck and a smaller body.

He designed it that way to encourage everyone, and not just musicians, to play music.

“People are capable of playing a musical instrument, but if you play an instrument and get frustrated with it early enough, you decide, it’s you, there’s something lacking in you,” he said. “I wanted to make an instrument that was a frontal assault on that misunderstanding."

And it only has three stings, which according to McNally, makes it a lot easier to play than other stringed instruments.

"The frets are spaced to give you just a major scale do-re-mi…and that means that when people squeeze one string, they get a couple of notes in the background for free, and they get the notes of a major scale, no wrong notes," he said. "So you can cover maybe 80 percent of most popular music with a Strumstick, but you’re only playing in one key at a time.”

  • The 2013 Smithsonian Craft Show, National Building Museum, Washington, D.C.
  • Bob McNally invented the “Strumstick,” an instrument he designed so that anyone could play music.
  • Ceramic art by Jennifer McCurdy at the 2013 Smithsonian Craft Show.
  • Shaker boxes by wood artist Tim Arnold at the 2013 Smithsonian Craft Show.
  • Glass art by Carrie Gustafson at the 2013 Smithsonian Craft Show.
  • Wearable art by Ignatius Creegan and Rod Givens at the 2013 Smithsonian Craft Show.
  • A porcelain figure, from “The Shadow Circus” collection by Kirsten Stingle at the 2013 Smithsonian Craft Show.
  • Twig furniture by Bill Perkins at the 2013 Smithsonian Craft Show.
  • A table by furniture maker Greg Klassen a the 2013 Smithsonian Craft Show.

McNally sells about 3,000 Strumsticks a year. The price ranges from $170 to double that, depending on the woods used and decorative elements.   

Many of his sales come from events like the Smithsonian Craft Show, one of the most difficult craft shows to get into.  

This year, about 120 artists were selected to present a wide variety of one-of-a-kind or limited edition works in 12 different media; everything from jewelry boxes disguised as books and bookends, to ceramics, glass and so-called wearable art.

“I’m always extremely grateful when I get in,” said McNally, “because it’s obviously a good show to do in terms of business, but the thing that’s almost more important is that the people who come to the show, the public, are very educated about craft.”

Proceeds from ticket sales and donations go towards education, research and outreach at the Smithsonian Institution.

You May Like

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

Country-pop singer, Lizzie Sider sits down with "Border Crossings" host Larry London to perform songs from her new album, “Butterfly,” and to talk about her anti-bullying tour.