Sausages, laws and drum heads

"Two things you don’t want to see made are sausages and laws"
                                                              -  Otto von Bismark

(Editors note: There is some discord among some scholars who believe the aforementioned quote originated with John Godfrey Saxe. In the interest of academic integrity, I decided to do some extensive research, and by research I mean I looked it up on Wikipedia. Then, in the middle of the first paragraph, I decided that I didn't really care and moved on.)
On a recent trip back east, I had the opportunity to spend some time with John D’Addario III, the President and third generation head of the family owned D’Addario company. (D’Addario Strings, Pro-Mark, Evans Drum Heads, etc…) At the conclusion of our meeting, he asked me if I wanted a tour of their factory. I’m not going to lie, my inner geek (some might argue not so inner) was very excited at the possibility of a backstage pass to how musical equipment is made.

For the next two and a half hours we wandered in and out of two football sized warehouses full of impressive machinery and the incredible people who operate it. I was blown away by the size and scope of it all. Aisle after aisle and row after row of high tech machinery was dedicated to the sole purpose of producing a single perfect violin string or drum stick. It was incredible.

In all of my years in music education, I had never had the opportunity to go behind the iron curtain and see how and where musical equipment is made and I was fascinated. Honestly, prior to that day, I had never really considered how much blood, sweat, and tears goes into making the things that we use for our blood, sweat, and tears. I was also impressed by John’s passion, knowledge, and commitment to excellence. His college degree might be in marketing, but his passion for music education rivaled that of of any teacher or conductor I have ever met. It truly was an “aha” moment.

Otto Bismark may have been right about laws and breakfast foods, but I assure you that the same doesn’t hold true for musical instruments.

Thanks to John, his crew and everyone else who works hard so we can practice hard.
To see the video of how strings are made, click here

To see a video of how a drum sticks and heads are made, click here.