The Instrument that Rocked the World, Rocks Western MA!

GUITAR: The Instrument That Rocked the World
Rocks the Springfield Museums!
January 18 through April 21, 2013

GUITAR: The Instrument That Rocked the World, an exhibit celebrating what is arguably the single most enduring icon in American history, will be on view January 18 through April 21, 2013 at the Springfield Museums.

Throughout history, the many different media that humans have used in order to channel their creativity has expanded – whether as a result of changes in technology, shifting culture, or the availability of different and materials, the ways in which we convey and share our creativity constantly evolving.  The Springfield Museums’ most recent addition explores the history behind one particularly interesting and popular means of expression – the guitar.

“GUITAR: The Instrument that Rocked the World,” is a nationally touring exhibit which, after five years of visiting museums around the country, will culminate in the creation of a national guitar museum.  It will be on view in two museums at the Springfield Museum from January 18 through April 21, 2013.

This fully immersive exhibition allows visitors to interact with the guitar from a historical perspective, learn about its evolution and design, discover the music that guitars have helped to create, and understand the guitar’s role as an agent of personal freedom, social change, and expression. Featuring guitars from greats like Steve Vai, Johnny Winter, and others, the exhibition includes more than 60 instruments – from the rare and antique to the wildly popular and innovative. There’s even the world’s largest playable guitar (over 43 feet long!), along with performance video and audio, hands-on interactives, touch screens, and photographs.

The George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum houses an exhibit made up of guitars of all shapes and sizes from all over the world, illustrating the evolution of the instrument across cultures and throughout history.  The exhibit also includes examples of early relatives of the guitar, including stringed instruments from Africa and Asia.

The Wood Museum of History is housing the second half of the exhibit, which details the modern history of guitar.  The introduction of electric guitars into the music world drastically changed the instrument’s role in music, as well as the way in which guitars can be played.  The second part of this exhibit includes many different modern guitars, including some pretty outlandish ones, like an 8-necked electric guitar and the world’s largest playable guitar (a full 43 feet long!).

A visit to the exhibits can help students of all ages learn to make cultural history meaningful, and would be a terrific supplement to music studies.  Music in almost every genre includes elements of guitar, and students can learn about the evolution of music by studying how this one important instrument has changed.

Before or after visiting the museum, families can learn about several types of guitars (and their use in music) from Grammy-nominated children’s musician, Mister G, a contributor of Hilltown Families.  Mister G’s recent vlog for Hilltown Families takes viewers straight into his studio, for a special lesson on guitars in his monthly column, “Under the Hat: Independent Music Education.”  Families can learn about the unique sound each has, and will learn about how Mister G uses each one to enhance his music.  Great for kids of all ages!

You can also check out this video to help understand the physics of the rock guitar, as illustrated by physicist Mark Lewney:

The Springfield Museums are located at 21 Edwards Street in Springfield, MA.  Museum hours are Tuesday-Saturday from 10am-5pm and Sundays from 11am-5pm.  For more information, call 800-625-7738 or visit

Under the Hat: All About Guitars

Under the Hat: Independent Music Education with Mister G

Under the Hat: All About Guitars

In this debut episode of “Under the Hat: Independent Music Education,” Mister G takes us into his recording studio in Western MA for a music lesson about the guitar. Using a variety of instruments from his collection, he discusses the differences (and similarities) between acoustic, electric, classical and steel guitars. — Grab the kids for a fun tutorial on four guitars as Mister G demonstrates their sounds and styles:

  • STEEL GUITAR: With its gleaming metal body, the steel guitar is a striking instrument visually and sonically. An iconic blues instrument, the steel guitar originally came to prominence in the 1920’s. Want to hear an example of the steel guitar being used in music for children? Mister G plays his National Steel Guitar on “Shark in my Bathtub” off of the BUGS CD.
  • CLASSICAL GUITAR: Originally from Spain, the classical guitar is used to perform many styles of music including bossa nova, folk, jazz and, of course, classical. Mister G plays an excerpt from his bossa nova inspired song “Suenos” to demonstrate the warmth and beauty of this iconic instrument. — Want to learn about the history of the classical guitar?  Check out Acoustic Guitar Guru.
  • ELECTRIC GUITAR: First built in 1954, the Fender Stratocaster is arguably the most famous electric guitar ever made. Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughn and countless others have chosen the strat due to its remarkable versatility. Mister G plays examples of funk, jazz, rock and blues; all musical styles that have influenced his playing and songwriting.
  • STEEL STRING ACOUSTIC GUITAR The steel string acoustic guitar came to prominence early in the 20th century. Originally embraced by country, blues and folk guitarists, the steel string acoustic is a remarkably versatile instrument. Mister G plays his Martin D-18, his primary touring guitar, and explains why the acoustic the instrument is a great choice for solo performing.

What to look forward to next month:

Reporting on tour from Mexico, Mister G describes how various songs on his new bilingual Spanish/English CD came to be. He discusses how songwriters are like detectives; always on the lookout for clues that could lead to a great new song. The episode ends with Mister G playing the delicious title track of his new album, CHOCOLALALA.


Mister G (Ben Gundersheimer) is an Amherst College graduate who spent 20 years as a singer/songwriter/producer in the adult music world prior to earning a Masters in Elementary Education at Smith College and transitioning to making music for children.  His most recent release, CHOCOLALALA, a collection of original, bilingual (Spanish/English) songs for children, won a Parents’ Choice Gold Award and is on the Grammy ballot for Best Children’s Album of 2012. A leading figure in the kids music world, Mister G’s 2011 bilingual release, BUGS garnered numerous national awards and was dubbed “irresistible” by People magazine.

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