By Lawrence San Diego
Have you always wanted to play the guitar but end up frustrated studying all those notes and chords?
Mastering the guitar is indeed easier said than done as it requires constant practice and patience, especially for those starting out. This is why music teacher Jericho Castro from Taguig City came up with an innovative musical instrument that promises to make guitar lessons a lot easier for beginners.
A high school student learning to play the Jerichord
Guitar Made Easy
The Jerichord is a three-stringed instrument made by Castro for teaching and learning purposes. Each of its three semitone strings is in chordal tuning, which simplifies the major and minor chord positions on each fret of the Jerichord.
“With the Jerichord, I made it easier for beginners to learn guitar by memorizing only two patterns with their fingers—major and minor chords. Every note is located on every fret, and the students can easily look for it when I show them,” Castro explained.
“I want to do away with memorizing chord charts. Using the Jerichord, I show my students the proper finger placements, which they then follow. With this technique, I help them master these simple patterns until they are familiar with all the chords,” he added.
By simplifying teaching music through chromatic scale, the Jerichord is a practical instructional tool for students, and even teachers, who are just starting to learn music fundamentals. This musical invention can help beginners transition to regular string instruments, like a six-stringed acoustic guitar.
Castro was driven to develop the Jerichord because of his experiences inside the classroom.
Castro teaches music chords to students using his Jerichord.
“It is challenging to maintain my students’ interest in playing instruments,” Castro shared. “At first, they feel excited to hold an instrument. But then they start to struggle in memorizing basic chords and in placing their fingers correctly. Their interest starts to wane, and many students become frustrated and disappointed. I don’t want that to happen again.”
Castro hopes that through the Jerichord, the complexities in learning the guitar and other string instruments will be minimized, so that every student, despite their level of interest and musical ability, will remain motivated to pick up and play an instrument.
“I’ve tested the Jerichord in the classroom and saw how it helped students learn an instrument,” he said. “I’ve seen how students can now easily understand and catch up on each lesson, and how they became more eager to play their instruments.”
The Jerichord’s first prototype was assembled by Castro in 2018 from scraps he collected from old and broken guitars and instruments in his school. After much research and trial and error, he came up with a working model for his invention with both major and minor chords.
He then teamed up with a bandurria maker to fabricate Jerichord units complete with acoustic strings, a hardwood body, and a unique sound box shaped into a treble or G clef sign and has the same sound quality as a regular acoustic guitar.
Castro’s plans to promote and seek support for his Jerichord hit a snag when he entered it to an exhibit and competition for educational research and innovations but failed to qualify as one of the top entries.
Despite his disappointment, he found a new window of opportunity when his fellow teacher introduced to him the government assistance for inventors offered by the Technology Application and Promotion Institute (TAPI) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).
“It was music to my ears when I learned that even private individuals like me can reach out to DOST-TAPI so we can further develop our inventions,” he said.
Castro was able to produce 100 units of the Jerichord, thanks to a grant awarded by DOST-TAPI to fund the fabrication of his invention. The agency also helped him file for utility model and industrial design registrations for the Jerichord to secure its intellectual property protection.
“DOST-TAPI has been and continues to be a big part of my whole invention process. They were there to help every step of the way,” Castro said. “They gave hope to a simple teacher like me who wanted a shot at being an inventor.”
Anna Liza Saet, Supervising Science Research Specialist of DOST-TAPI’s Invention Development Division, hopes that more education-related inventions will be assisted through the agency’s programs and inspire the youth to become innovators themselves.
Bringing Jerichord to More Schools
Castro teaches music at a public high school in Taguig City, where his Jerichord was first introduced.
To expand the reach of his invention and test it further in the market, Castro has started rolling out his Jerichord for schools and teachers to try. In Quezon City, he sold each unit at 3,500 pesos to teachers who were impressed to see how the Jerichord can help enrich and simplify their music lessons.
DOST-TAPI also invited Castro to serve as mentor at the Invent School in Basilan, where he showcased the Jerichord to students and teachers in the island province and donated several units to participating high schools.
This year, Castro looks forward to scaling up the production and promotion of his Jerichord in hopes of creating an enduring enterprise out of his invention.
“I hope to go into mass production soon, secure a business permit, and bring the Jerichord to more schools, starting in Taguig City where I live,” he said.
“My dream is for more schools, local government units, and potential partners to get to know the Jerichord and to help spread the joy of learning music among our youth.”
Lawrence San Diego
DOST-TAPI S&T Media Service