One of the most personal projects I've ever worked on was when I converted my old piano into a planter. My curiosity and fascination with dismantling a musical instrument felt singular to that experience.

I was a musician growing up and musicians have a way of collecting instruments. Just last month I purchased a violin when a friend asked if I wanted to join a beginning adult violin class here in Missoula. That violin joined a clarinet, piano, guitar, and balalaika that my husband and I already own.

Taking apart a piano gave me a deeper appreciation for the instrument, even as I was converting it to become something else. So when I found out there's a Missoula Nonprofit that teaches youth how to build musical instruments I was intrigued.

Instrument Shop - Missoula, Montana

Instrument Shop is a place for youth, aged 12-17, to learn how to build musical instruments, like guitars and drums. Think of it like having piano lessons on Thursdays, except instead of learning how to play the piano, the youth are learning how to build one.

As you can see, youth are building all kinds of instruments from wood--guitars, ukeleles, pipe organs-but they can also make instruments from their imagination.

nstrument Shop Missoula Montana
Instrument Shop via YouTube

I would have loved to have the opportunity to build an instrument when I was that age. I imagine the transferrable skills the youth are learning will serve them for decades after participating in one of these programs.

Related: My Old Missoula House Came With a Piano. Now It's a Planter

In the supporting documents on the Instrument Shop website, they explain how the workshops operate. Note: there's a 3:1 teacher-to-student ratio so there's lots of supervision if you're a nervous parent and wondering.  There's also info about when workshops take place and plans for the program moving forward. Instrument Shop was also just featured in Project for Awesome 2024, the YouTube fundraising event created by Hank and John Green.

How You Can Support Instrument Shop Now

If this organization is your jam (pun intended), you can donate by check or online. They also take in-kind donations of things like instruments, instrument parts, and construction materials but be sure to contact Ben Simon the Program Administrator at 406-518-1960 or before donating to make sure they can accept the materials.

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