Monday, April 23, 2007

Fretwork, crafts, and music

I came across the following item from the April 1879 issue of the Scientific Canadian, quoted in the March 1988 issue of the Chronicle of the Early American Industries Association (work-related reading, but interesting, nonetheless). It reminded me of Harold Hill's warning in The Music Man: River City needs a boys' band to ward off the evil influences of pool playing.

In this case, the solution offered to the problem of idle hands is fretwork, "the art of cutting open ornamental designs into wood with a scroll saw."
If our young people would only give more of their leisure hours to pleasant useful recreations at home, in any form, there would be far less inclination on the boys' part to fritter it away, as is so often done by them, in frivolous sport, and too often in sinful ways. If every father gave encouragement to his sons to spend their leisure hours in amateur mechanics and afforded to them the necessary tools and space in the house to do such work in, without considering it a bore to his comfort or a nuisance in the house, there would be far less erring souls in the world.
The Chronicle mentions that scroll saws (hand tools and foot pedal-powered tools) were popular with the ladies too, an activity that all members of the family could enjoy.

In my pre-cello days, I was consumed with arts and crafts. I wanted to buy a scroll saw, though I cannot recall for certain just what I wanted to make with it, probably something for the kids, jigsaw puzzles, or something like that. The cost and size of electric scroll saws intimidated me, and I never bought one. It's just as well: I still have great quantities of drawing and painting, arts and crafts, and sewing/knitting/needle arts supplies. I joked when I took up music, that it wasn't as messy as arts and crafts. But, of course it is, in its own way. I have tons of sheet music and a collection of instruments, not to mention, rosins, tuners, rock stops, mutes, etc. And I am on the verge of using those old the art supplies again.


Guanaco said...

Almost all of my pre-cello (and pre-blogging) power tools and supplies are also quietly gathering dust. I'm too worried now about cutting my fingers in some sloppy workshop accident.

cellodonna said...

When I saw "fretwork" in your title I thought it was going to be about guitar frets ... or the lack thereof on the cello.

I'm with Guanaco on that one. No hobbies that put fingers at risk. In fact, no work that puts them at risk either!

yarnplayer said...

Arts, crafts, music, family -- a very busy but fulfilling life! I'm very impressed that you play so many instruments, not just the cello.

Maricello said...

I agree about avoiding dangerous tools, Guanaco and Donna. A musician-friend cut his thumb on a workshop saw last year, and it took months before he felt comfortable playing. There is still a lack of feeling in the thumb, but he enjoys woodworking too.

Hi Yarnplayer--I am impressed that you do so many crafts! I love your cellist self-portrait in yarn. I love playing multiple instruments, but would probably be better at the cello if I concentrated on it and/or on one genre of music. The kids/family, I believe, can make you more creative, while, at the same time, reducing the time available to be creative. Now that my kids are 18 and 21, I am thinking I might have more time for visual arts, as well as the musical ones, so am dusting off my [finger-safe] art supplies to see what I might do with them.

cellodonna said...

I've noticed that "music people" frequently pursue other creative ventures in addition to music. Maybe there's a genetic link or a brain-center correlation.

Maricello said...

Interesting, Donna, about people doing both music and art. I hadn't noticed it myself, but now that you mention it, I do know several people with talents in both areas.

It's genetics complicated, I think, by environment. I rejected art and music as serious endeavors when I was in high school/college, but am, of course, obsessed with them now.