Making My First Musical Instrument:

Around this time last year I spent time writing a diary/journal about my journey with the Mitchell Drum and how I got involved in Making My first musical instrument.

There was a burning desire in me to write it and tell my story. Not for arrogance sake as I have done nothing to be arrogant about, more to share my story and tell those who are unsure of their direction in life, to do what makes them happy.

Unfortunately that same desire did not transpire into telling anybody once I wrote it.  Somethings I can be shy and nervous about what people would think. I did not know where to start and who to share it with, and the paralysis through analysis resulted in me doing nothing.
I was working on the Mitchell Dance Platform and that took me in a whole new direction over the last 12 months into the Irish Dancing world that I knew nothing about. That is a new part of my story I hadn’t even written.

For whatever reason that same desire to write and engage with others has come back and this time I feel a little more compelled to share it. Not because I have become more confident or knowledgeable but because part of me wants to invite more people along with me on this journey and to encourage others to walk their own path into the unknown. The fear of ‘What If’ is much scarier than anything you will face along the way.

I feel it is in the unknown parts of life where all the magic happens. The biggest regrets in life for me are usually the things I have not done, not the things i have tried and failed.
As George Bernard Shaw wrote:

Ever Tried
Ever Failed
No Matter
Try Again
Fail Again
Fail Better.

Making my first musical instrument

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Colm Meaney and Myself at the Irish Post awards 2019.

My name is Lorcan Mitchell. I was born and raised near a small village called Aughrim near Ballinasloe in Co Galway in the west of Ireland.
As of writing this I am 34 years old.

I am a carpenter by trade and a lover of music.  All my life I have been involved in music. My parents did not play any instruments but they encouraged and supported us   (my brother and 3 sisters) in playing music. I started playing the tin whistle as a child, then progressed to the button accordion before taking up the guitar when I was 13. I’ve been playing the guitar ever since. Now I also play the Mitchell Drum.

My journey into making musical instruments started when I was 17. In Ireland before we go to college (University) we complete exams called the leaving Cert. I was doing woodwork as a subject and we have to do a project that goes toward our final grade.
At the decision stage of the project I didn’t know what to do. We were told we could make anything but I didn’t want to make a table or cabinet. I was talking to my teacher about whether it would be possible to build a guitar. Luckily he had helped a student on a similar project in the past and told me he would help me.

I was delighted. Being honest I was not very academic and wasn’t a big fan of school so this new project gave me a reason to go in. Looking back now I do wish I applied myself more. Even if I could go back and talk to the younger me, I dont think I would have listened.

Making an Electric Guitar

I loved every minute of making my first musical instrument. From researching the type of guitar I wanted to make to learning what material I needed to all the separate parts that go into making an electric guitar. It was fascinating to me. This wasn’t school, for me something about it felt real. Like this was real life.

The more I worked on the guitar the more I dreamt of possibly doing this as a career. I imagined how much fun it would be, spending all day making beautiful musical instruments, then spending time with cool musicians, going to gigs and music festivals, travelling the world and meeting girls. And to get paid to do it. WOW. I knew what I wanted to do.

At the same time I was building my guitar, we as 6th year students had to fill out a form deciding what we wanted to do after school, what college we wanted to go to and what course we wanted to do there.

My turn came to visit the career guidance teacher who assists each student in filling out the CAO form. I knew what I wanted t do; all I needed was him to guide me in the right direction. I was almost finished making my first musical instrument and i knew i wanted to make more.

I walked into his office and told him I wanted to make musical Instruments. He told me in no uncertain terms that there are no careers in making musical instruments, there are no colleges to teach you and you will struggle to make a living from it.
I was horrified. My dream was shattered into a million pieces. He told me there are lots of jobs in construction and to possibly do construction management.

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The first musical instrument I made. An electric Guitar

After that conversation my interest in school vanished. I finished making my guitar, though not as good as I could have and I stopped going to school.
I passed my exams ( just about ) a few months later and that was it. School was out and I was stepping into the real world with no idea where to go or what to do.

Life after School

Most of my friends knew exactly what they wanted to do. Most of them went to College. I had no interest in College. The partying side appealed to me but not more exams and classes. All I saw was more school, and when I was in school I couldn’t wait to leave.

So I decided to ‘take a year out’. It’s a funny term “taking a year out”. What was I taking a year out from? Life, living, learning, growing. I didn’t know, I don’t know.

My first job was after school was in a sports shop in Galway city. That was when I moved out from my parent’s house and began the next phase of my journey.

I lived in Galway for 8 months, not doing much, working, partying, just floating by really. My sister was living in Jersey (Channel Islands) at the time and invited me over. I didn’t have any reason to stay in Ireland so I left.
I got a job in a hardware store and spent the next 6 months there. Jersey was nice but it was like Galway. I worked I partied. I just floated by. My sister was moving back to Ireland that September, so I decided to go back with her.

I moved back in with my parents. All my friends were in different college around Ireland so I spent a few months going from college to college drinking and partying.

My parents never pressured me into choosing a career and I love them for that.
They said they would support me if I wanted to go to college. As much as i loved the thought of college I knew more studying and exams wasn’t for me and it would have been a just a waste of their money.
I didn’t know what to do so I just floated again for a few more months.

During all this time making musical instruments was always at the back of my head. It was a beautiful but impossible dream. I knew in the future I wanted to build a guitar again, even just to build one to a level I would be happy with.

The thoughts of becoming a carpenter began formulating in my brain. I loved wood work in school and loved working with wood. It wasn’t exactly making guitars but it was something. I have many relations who are carpenters and after many conversations I decided that was what I was going to do.

Becoming a Carpenter

In 2006 I began my apprenticeship. In Ireland to become a qualified carpenter at that time you needed to complete 4 years of training. That included a majority of time on site (on the job) learning the skills of the trade and brief spells in college learning the theory and dong exams in between.

For the first year and a half working on site I hated every minute of it. I was outside all the time in the cold and wet doing all the shitty jobs, carrying and lifting stuff tidying digging holes etc. The apprentice does all the leg work.  I didn’t enjoy it at all.

Many nights I lay awake thinking about what I should do. I considered quitting many times. I just wasn’t enjoying what I was doing. When I thought about what else I would do I had no idea.  I knew college wasn’t for me. Then what else.
Around that time a little voice in the back of my head began to whisper, ‘stick it out, it will be worth it’. For a long time I didn’t want to listen to that voice. I was sure there had to be another way a better way. Finally I resound to the fact that this was my path and to try and enjoy it. So I did.

The funny thing is, after that I began to enjoy my job and I was actually good at it.
The skills I learned have been invaluable to me. From building stairs to roofing, from laying floors and hanging doors to making kitchens from building wardrobes to constructing timber framed houses. I even learned bits of plumbing, electrical work, plastering, tiling and block laying.
The work was hard and the days were long but the knowledge I have I wouldn’t swap it for anything.
I am a firm believer that a trade or skill with your hands is a very valuable thing and should be promoted and encouraged. It’s not easy but anything in life that is really worth while rarely is. Buts it’s well worth it.

I qualified in 2011 with top grades in my exams.

Thank you for reading. If you have enjoyed reading please Like, comment and share.
Come back next week for part 2
Have a great week
Lorcan.