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Curator’s Corner

Introducing Kate, our new assistant
12 - MUSEUM
A clarinet on display at the museum

Kate Craig is the newest student assistant curator at the Pioneer Home Museum. She has just finished grade nine at Virden Collegiate Institute. Kate has grown up in Virden and Elkhorn, and went to Elkhorn School for three years. 
She enjoys reading, specifically fantasy books. Kate has an interest in history, and is enjoying reading the history books for Virden and area while doing research. She also enjoys going biking and camping, and eating s’mores. 
Kate has two dogs who she loves, and four cats, one of which spends a lot of his time following her around. She also has a little brother who she spends a lot of time with, and they often try and play video games together. Kate is excited for grade ten and all the classes she’ll be taking. 

Musical instruments then, now

In the Pioneer Home Museum, there are two old clarinets. The first clarinet was invented in 1690 by Johann Christoph Denner in Germany. Mozart wrote several pieces of music for the clarinet and by Beethoven’s prime years around 1800-1820, the clarinet was a standard instrument in all orchestras. 
However, the oldest instrument seems to be the flute. Examples have been uncovered going back about 35,000-60,000 years ago in caves in what is now Slovenia and southern Germany. Early humans fashioned simple flutes from the bones of birds and bears along with ivory from mammoths. They had three, four, or five holes. 
It is suggested that music may have been one thing that helped give our species an edge over Neanderthals. Music may have played a role in maintaining social networks, which may have helped our species expand our territory, leading to the downfall of the more conservative Neanderthal. 
Modern flutes weren’t around until the middle of the 1800s, possibly slightly sooner. Flutes are quite common all over the world. Indian versions show Hindu deities playing the instrument. 
Another instrument found that dates back a long time is a silver trumpet found in King Tutankhamen’s tomb. Flutes and clarinets both count as woodwind instruments, although the flute does not have a reed. Flutes are very common woodwind instruments in an orchestra, and are often playing the melody. 
The recorder, although often used to teach young children how to play an instrument and help them learn to read music, is also an ancient woodwind instrument. The earliest documented use of the recorder was in 1388 in England by King Henry IV. 
Another instrument that is a woodwind is the saxophone. It’s made of brass, and is a single reed instrument much like the clarinet although the sound they produce is very different. 
The clarinet as we know it now was originally based on another instrument called the chalumeau. The chalumeau looked a lot like the modern day recorder. The clarinet and the chalumeau were often used with the lower register being played on the chalumeau, while the higher register was on the clarinet. Clarinets are now an incredibly common and well used instrument.