NGU Guitar Teacher Wins All at Best New Instrument Contest
Posted on: March 10, 2021
Tigerville, SC (March 20, 2019) A North Greenville University adjunct professor has made it into the ranks of the most innovative instrument creators of today.
Keith Groover, who teaches guitar in the NGU Cline School of Music, recently won first place at the 2019 Margaret Guthman New Instrument Competition with his made-from-scratch, one-of-a-kind instrument called The Glide.
Groover first began scribbling down ideas for the instrument back in 2016, in between teaching music and performing with the duo WireWood.
“My guiding principle with the whole design was accessibility,” Groover adds.
For Groover, that meant creating an instrument almost anyone could play. Right-handed or left-handed. Perfect fingers or missing joints. (During his 17 years as a guitar teacher, he’s seen it all.) Seasoned musicians or newbies. Cash to spare or tight on money. He plans to sell the instrument for around $150.
And the concept was an instrument based around the accelerometer, a device used to measure increase in speed. Accelerometers are what power cellphones to switch between horizontal and vertical views when we tilt them, Groover explains.
When applied to his instrument, the accelerometer could give the musician surprising control over the elements of not only pitch and tone, but even volume and vibrato.
“The biggest feature of the instrument is that you can play one note and then you can change your fingers around and glide to a different note: aah-aah,” Groover demonstrates in a singing voice, with the second “aah” several full steps higher. “That was one of the very last features that I came up with, and that feature brought it all together.”
That feature is also the namesake of Groover’s now patented instrument, The Glide, which in its completed realization consists of two hand controls with a total of five buttons, joined together by a thin cable.
“You choose the notes with the buttons, and with one hand, you make a hitting motion to make the note come out,” Groover explains.
Around the same time he wrapped up design for The Glide, Groover learned about the Margaret Guthman New Instrument Competition, an annual event “aimed at identifying the world’s next generation of musical instruments,” according to its website, and hosted by Georgia Tech in Atlanta, GA.
When Groover applied for the competition, he heard back within just days that he would be among the elite group of selected performers at the 2019 showcase, which took place on March 8-9.
The first day of the competition included formal presentations of each instrument in the competition, and the second day included a final performance, as well as the awards ceremony.
Instead of choosing one song for his final performance, Groover decided to improvise.
“I had considered using a backing track or doing a song that everyone knew, but I decided that I wanted [the performance] to be as exposed as possible, and for it to have an improvisatory feel,” confides Groover. “That’s the heart and soul of what I envisioned for The Glide: that it would be an instrument that would make it easy to make music off the cuff.”
In the judge’s closing notes, they praised Groover for “[taking the instrument] all the way from idea through engineering and design all the way to . . . a very compelling performance.”
Groover won first place at the 2019 Margaret Guthman New Instrument Competition and a cash prize of $5,000, which he plans to use to continue production of The Glide and possibly to develop a smaller version of the instrument for children.
“I’ve poured countless hours into The Glide,” Groover says. “[This win] made me really hopeful for the future of the instrument.”
Learn more about NGU’s music programs at ngu.edu/academics.