KEENE VALLEY - A seasonal resident of the Adirondacks is offering to share her unique expertise with fellow music enthusiasts.
Charlotte Poletti, founder and president of the American Pipers' Guild, will offer classes on making a bamboo pipe each Wednesday and Friday, 9:30 a.m. to noon at the Keene Valley Congregational Church beginning Sept. 15.
Bamboo pipes are recorder-like wind instruments. Their history stems from a London schoolhouse in the 1920s where a teacher by the name of Margaret James turned some of her old bamboo curtain rods into accurately-tuned instruments her students could use for playing music.
The instruments became an instant hit with both the students and professional musicians of the period, leading to the creation of pipers' guilds throughout Europe that carved and decorated their pipes by hand.
"They really are a nice quality instrument," said Poletti, who first learned of the instruments while living in Europe and singing in choral groups there.
"It amazed me how the most qualified people would get together with their pipes and share their music."
Early on, the European pipers' guilds established a tradition that the pipes be made only by their players and never sold. To get her own pipe, Poletti joined one of the guilds.
"You're getting people together to have this very spiritual experience of making their own instrument and sharing music," she said, noting how musicians of all abilities would participate.
Poletti enjoyed the experience so much, she decided to become trained in teaching others to make them. After years of study and practice, she became the first American to attain Master status in the making and playing of bamboo pipes.
Since then, she has helped students ages seven to 70 make more than 1,500 pipes and has been a guest teacher for pipers' guilds in Austria, Holland, France, Switzerland, and other countries.
She also established her own pipe ensembles near Boston and Hartford, Conn., where she and her husband have their Winter home. Now she wants to bring the same experience to her Adirondack neighbors.
"It takes a certain commitment," she said, noting how at least 10 hours go in to making each pipe. "You have to be really drawn to the idea of making your own musical instrument."
The cost of the class varies from $50 to $60 based on the size of the pipe participants wish to create; they range from soprano, the smallest, to bass, the largest. The admission covers the cost of materials.
"What I do discourage is people who take it as a craft experience," Poletti added. "The craft is an important part of it, but if you don't play it, you're missing an important part of it."
For more information and to register for the classes, contact Poletti by e-mail at email@example.com or call 873-2262. More information is also available at www.americanpipersguild.org.