Our arts council sponsored a musical ensemble from Norway for a residency in the local elementary schools. The students’ favorite musician: the percussionist — but not just because of his prowess on the drums. What endeared him to the audience was the wide range of “instruments” that he used to create music: goats’ hooves, butterfly cocoons, sea shells, a peeled cymbal tower and a wide array of bells.

Kenneth Ekornes is a traditional Norwegian folk artist but collects all manner of items that make sounds and incorporates them into his music. He replicated eagles, thunder, frogs, snowstorms and birds by pulling items out of his box of treasures. He crafts some of his own sound-makers, has been given instruments as gifts from native musicians, and picks up some when traveling to other cultures. So, what is his favorite souvenir from America? A washboard tie that you can play while wearing it!

Ekornes has defined music broadly and, as a result, has created an instrumental feast that entranced all who heard it. Think about how you can re-define your specialty area and expand its scope in ways that are nontraditional. It’s much easier to replicate or even to master what has been done before but you can create real magic by inventing unconventional ways to express your talents.

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