Whether you realize it or not, the Chinese are killing it in the music manufacturing industry.
LITERALLY... They are killing the industry!
Is it their artificially deflated currency?
Is it their endless supply of cheap labor?
Is it the stealing of intellectual property?
Is it flooding the market with low cost, low quality instruments?
NOPE! It’s their furniture.
Yep, you read it correctly. Chinese coffee tables and Lazy-Boy recliners (do they have either of those?) are killing it.
It turns out that in China, demand for furniture made of rosewood (hongmu) has spiked so significantly that it has spawned an entire black market industry. Think of it like the drug trade, but with tone wood.
During the past year in Thailand more than 150 people have been killed fighting over rosewood. And you thought the south side of Chicago was rough! Sheesh. If this keeps up, instrument manufacturers are going to have to attach a warning label to their claves and clarinets that reads: “Use at your own risk!"
The wide spread and excessive violence has lead to an international crackdown on the movement of rosewood, and it is having an impact all up and down the music industry. Want a guitar, clarinet, or cello? Needs rosewood. Looking for new strings for your guitar? Costs are up because less guitars are being made. Hoping to find an affordable marimba or cello for the holiday season? FOOORRRGEETTTAAABBBOUUUTTIIITTT!
It turns out that not only is sourcing this precious natural wood increasingly difficult, but instruments containing rosewood can, in fact, be confiscated in certain situations and countries. Apparently, when Nancy Reagan said, “Just Say No!” she was referring to getting high on a marimba and not marijuana.
This issue reminds me that our industry is bigger than a single classroom or program. It reminds me that if I want an industry partner to understand my struggles as a teacher, perhaps I should try to understand their struggles in return. It reminds me to appreciate ALL of the people who help to bring music to a classroom and to the life of a young person.
It also reminds me that China needs an IKEA in the worst way. That would be the Chinese Torture that didn’t require any water!
Have a great week!