I started building instruments as a teenager, and in 2002, I co-founded Rockbridge Guitar Company – an artisan business crafting high-end acoustic guitars. Since then, I've been fortunate to build guitars for numerous high-profile musicians, including many of the guitarists who inspired me when Iwas growing up.
I love music, but it isn't my only passion. In 2014, I invented a board game called Chickapig, an animal-hybrid strategy game, and it made me realize that I love creating for kids. Making instruments designed for kids was a way to combine my passion for guitars and kids’ products.
The first TinkerTar was a four-stringed dinosaur. I took it to a four-year old's birthday party, and everyone wanted to play, but that just meant vigorously strumming the strings. No one could coordinate holding chords or fretting and plucking individual notes.
I started guitar at age 11 and I was one of the youngest in my school, but I know several violinists who started as early as age 3. I've never met a guitarist who started that early, and I've often wondered why.
It occurred to me that violins are melody instruments, while guitars are typically chord-based. I went back to those same kids at the party with a one-string guitar, and they had no problem pushing down the string and changing the pitch. They were making melodies!
I've taught kids as young as three, and I've found that when people learn their first melody, it breaks down the intimidation to learn guitar and makes them want to pick it up over and over again. There are endless melodies that can be played on one string, and I hope learning some of these will kick-start your kid's musical journey.