On Thursday, October 6th, eighth grade woodshop students at the Ocean City Intermediate School were given a mini guitar lesson from local musician John Crotty of Grassroots Music Store on Asbury Avenue, using guitars made in the class. The woodworking teacher, Stu Lichtenstein, has made one of the classes main projects a “cigar box guitar.” The guitars are made using empty cigar boxes for the body, that not only act as practical resonators, but also add a unique design aspect.
Students broke into groups of five for their lessons from Mr. Crotty, leaning in closely with interest, learning a few simple chords to start. They practiced on previously built cigar box guitars, as the class was still working on finishing their own guitars. “I’m not a musician, so I thought it would be great to have someone who was, come in and teach the kids,” explained Mr. Lichtenstein. Students who were not currently receiving lessons from Mr. Crotty worked on sanding their guitars.
Mr. Lichtenstein began the cigar box guitar project by teaching the kids about the history of blues, and how this style of guitar was poplar in the South beginning in the 1800’s. The cigar boxes were collected through a combination of donations and Mr. Lichtenstein’s purchases from various shops along his travels. He makes sure to point out to the kids that the cigar boxes are just for artistic design and that smoking is certainly not encouraged. The project also consisted of a heavy amount of math, measuring, and problem solving.
Sofia Keir, 13, was searching for a specific piece of mahogany wood to compete the neck of her guitar when asked about her favorite part of the project. “Probably the sanding and making sure everything is even and smooth,” she said. “The hardest part was measuring everything.”