The Marimba Maker - KFYRTV.COM - Bismarck, ND - News, Weather, Sports

The Marimba Maker

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Parents are generally excited when their child wants to learn a musical instrument. But after they find out how much it costs, they can be discouraged.

However, when it comes to fulfilling a daughter's dream, you should ever underestimate the power of determination.

"I like piano, and this kind of looks just like it. I like the idea of playing with four mallets. It just was interesting to me, I guess," says musician Hanna Sailer.

Her parents didn't buy it. To save money, her father made it piece by piece. For four months, this computer programmer during the week turned into a weekend marimba manufacturer.

"I learned to be a better, detail-oriented person because this wasn't just something you can go rough cut and get by with certain mistakes. It's like you had to be very precise, especially cutting out the keys. So, I learned to read things carefully, measure things better and ultimately, doing things better the first time," says Hanna's father Terry Sailer.

Why go through all the trouble? A professionally made five octave marimba can cost tens of thousands of dollars. But with time, sweat, online instructions and materials such as African padouk wood for the keys and PVC pipe for the resonators, Terry made it in his garage for about $2,000.

I checked to see what he was doing, but I didn't like help or anything.

Along the way, Terry invented some of his own tools to make the pieces he needed. But how could he make 61 keys, all in the right pitch? Technology helps.

"Actually, I could have been deaf to do this project, thanks to the tuner that I bought. So, that was my saving grace there. I could actually tune the notes with this device," says Terry.

It can be difficult for a teenager to express thanks to her Dad. But the more she uses her talents to play her special gift, it can serve as a musical sign of appreciation.

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