What are the skills needed to be a master ocarina maker?
To me, the first requirement is a love for the instrument, a high degree of respect for the ocarina and its musical potential, a belief that the ocarina is a serious musical instrument worthy of virtuoso musicians. You know, we tend to hit what we set our sites on, so if you view the ocarina as a musical toy or a video game novelty, your ocarina making results are going to reflect that. You'll settle for mediocrity.
Along the same lines, I think that a master ocarina maker will always be focused on making their present products better. For that reason, you need the dogged determination and perseverance to go beyond good enough to great because designing really exceptional instruments is a slow, patient process, an ongoing process and not one that gets set in stone. Of course, the realities of life demand that we run our businesses and sell enough instruments to survive, so obviously you can't spend all your time experimenting. Still, it's important to realize that just about anything can be improved in some way if we are willing to take the time and effort to focus on improvement.
I honestly can't relate to the people whose goal in life is to make an instrument exactly like one that a master instrument maker fashioned 200 years ago.
What I mean to say is that I respect their work and craftsmanship, but I can't relate to that attitude. To me, a true master is an innovator not a copier, someone who views past accomplishments as a starting point for future improvements. Then the scientific process should take over. Isolate variables, experiment, form hypotheses, test hypotheses, find out what makes something good and make it better. When time and finances allow, there are several new designs that I am itching to bring to the market.
In terms of specific skills, one of the most useful things to me has been to learn about all the different machinist measuring tools because without the ability to precisely measure the size of a hole, or the depth of a chamber, or, uh, the dimensions and angles of a windway, you really can't repeat your successes consistently once you achieve them. And you don't have an accurate bench mark or control that you can improve upon by isolating the variables and changing only one by a few thousandths of an inch to see if it makes any difference.
I've also benefited from reading books on the science of sound production and musical instrument design. The theoretical background sometimes helps guide your experiments or helps you to recognize why certain good or bad things might be happening when you blow into your ocarina.
(Enjoying Ocarina Entrepreneurship)
(Pre Ocarina Master)
Other Links: Karl's Ocarinas
General Ocarina Information