Museum to get handmade instrument

Keith Strange Staff Reporter

August 17, 2013

Music is an integral part of the region’s heritage, and a pair of events set Wednesday evening are designed to highlight its rich instrument-making past.

Matt Edwards, director of the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History, announced this week that Jayne Henderson, one of the featured luthiers, or instrument makers, in the ongoing exhibit at the museum, will be presenting an intricately-inlaid ukulele that will be a part of the exhibit.

The ukelele now in the museum’s exhibit is on loan from a local collector, Edwards said.

“She’s going to be bringing the instrument over to unveil it and make the switch with the one in the exhibit,” Edwards said.

But the event isn’t just about “oohing” and “ahhing” over a hand-made, one-of-a-kind instrument.

“In addition to presenting it to the museum, (Henderson) will be conducting a public education program starting at 4 p.m.,” he said. “It will give the public a chance to learn about the instrument-building process, and she’s also going to be bringing several instruments with here that are in various stages of being built.”

Henderson is expected to focus on the intricate inlay process that involves decorative work in mother-of-pearl or wood, Edwards said.

“From a public standpoint, this is a great opportunity for them to come out and meet with one of the craftsman and see first-hand some of the in-process pieces,” he said.

Following Henderson’s presentation, the ukulele will travel across the street to Old North State Winery, where it will be used in a concert by the newly-formed MAUI, or Mount Airy Ukulele Invasion.

“George Smith, a local music instructor who has been teaching a group ukulele class, will be hosting the event, and he and his students will be playing a concert using the instrument that (Henderson) has built,” Edwards said.

Edwards said the concert event is a great tie-in to the ongoing luthier exhibit, which is running through February, 2014.

“She built the ukulele and the class will be finishing up their summer with a concert using it at the winery,” he said. “It’s a great thing, too. It is a piece of art, but it’s an instrument as well, one that wants to be played.”

Edwards said he hopes the public comes out to support the event.

“I think that this is a rich part of our area’s heritage, and that’s why we really tried to tap into it for this exhibit,” he said. “So far, the response has been great from the public.”

Reach Keith Strange at or 719-1929.