My DIY Approach to Designing Prototypes

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“The battle is not man vs. the trumpet. It’s a battle between man and how far we can push ourselves to make this wonderful thing we call music.” ~Vincent Cichowicz

My name is Chase Kolozsy and I play trumpet and viola!  I am about to lead you through my process of designing through trial and error by systematically discovering problems and solving them.

Motivated by the need for a fuller sound while performing alone, I set out to design a hybrid instrument system that combines a trumpet and a viola. These are the only instruments I know how to play. I intend to marry them together both literally and figuratively so I can play them at the same time. I started a Kickstarter campaign for “The Marriage of Trumpet and Viola,” both a feat in design as well as a theatrical production. In the pursuit of this I have gained invaluable experience in design and in collaborating with others. What follows is what I have gathered in my pursuit to design and manufacture an apparatus that allows me to play them at the same time.

I started thinking, back in March 2012, about how I could play them at the same time. A loop pedal was too much, too obvious. I went through the possibilities of using electronics, cause that was my father’s suggestion, which led me to realize I really wanted it to be completely mechanical, organic. I thought about wires, and my father was like how about bike brake cables? It worked for my first prototype. I’ve gone through three prototypes.

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With the first one, I thought I would attach the trumpet to my hand and the viola bow with shoelaces. Shoelaces are my main freakin’ staple! I attached a tube to my trumpet and attach it to my mouthpiece so I could place the mouthpiece wherever I needed it. The problem with that is all it did was make the trumpet unplayable and out of tune. That was the failure of the first prototype.

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The second prototype was my attempt at placing the trumpet on top of the viola and utilizing bike brake cables to control the valves or the pistons. There are little holes on the bottom of the pistons I put paper clips through. I had given up on the idea for nine months, put it on the backburner and it wasn’t until I held the trumpet in one hand and the paper clip in the other that I thought to myself, “What if I just put this paper clip in the bottom of a piston?” It allowed me to pull the piston down from below, which would make the idea of using bike brake cables possible.

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After I got the viola successfully mounted onto the viola by making my own fasteners, it turned out the trumpet was too heavy and it made the viola impossible to play. I bought a special pocket coronet for this. So, trumpet was too heavy and someone suggested a shoulder yokel. I made it out of this mesh plaster netting you can get at an art store.  I also used baling wire to make it more sturdy. To make this foundation for it, I attached, kept squiggling around, bending a bunch of baling wire together to make the shape of the general form.

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One of the most important things I learned throughout the process of building prototypes for my contraption was that communication is key. While being one of the most important solutions to moving forward with a design idea, communication was one of my greatest problems.  I wasn’t very good at it to start. Not everyone is confident enough to communicate an idea they are only just beginning to nurse within the depths of their imaginations. But as I communicated more and more my idea no matter how frustrating the conversations got, I gained a better idea of what the other person needed in order to understand the idea and get excited about it. In many cases, it was as simple as providing a sketch or a mold of sorts to refer to while discussing the idea at hand.

But sometimes I was forced to move forward with an idea without the revelations or the feedback one gains from sharing her ideas, even after drawing a sketch or creating a mold because in my case, the idea was too abstract or it seemed too impossible for others to fathom or humor me on.

What I had to do was lose myself for a bit within the woods of research and deep oceans of focused, calm, and collected pondering and searching (who am I kidding? I am the most manic person I know) until slowly but surely I gathered enough facts and gained enough understanding of what I needed in order to ask better questions and continue forth upon the quest for feedback. Time and time again I had to jerry-rig materials that oughtn’t have been fastened together in order to come closer to my idea. Every possible solution and problem that I came up with I addressed systematically to the best of my ability until eventually an epiphany occurred, one right after the other. Let me break it down some more!

“My Project”

I began with three concepts:

  1. Somehow fasten the trumpet to my bow and hand and utilize tubing to extend the range of the mouthpiece.
  2. Somehow fasten the trumpet to my viola and use cables to pull or push the valves down to be controlled by my bow hand.
  3. Somehow fasten the trumpet to my shoulder utilizing tubing for extra reach of the mouth piece and also use cables controlled by my bow hand.

Within each concept problems arose. The first was, remember, unplayable due to the tubing getting out of whack when I fastened the tubes to the trumpet and mouthpiece. There was no controlling the trumpet and the intonation was terrible.

The second concept was promising but it was too heavy when I finally fastened the trumpet to the viola. Gravity was working against me and it rendered it impossible. Also the bike break cables were too stiff to allow for playable mobility and quality tone.

For the third concept, I’ve got 40″ shutter-release cables now included instead of bike brake cables, and the extra tubing has been removed from the equation. This is the golden child, so to speak, and also the “third-times-a-charm” version.

The wedding for trumpet and viola is a Kickstarter-exclusive event. Unless someone who pledged invites you, the only way to attend is to pledge $3 or more.


To keep up with my progress follow me on and find me on Kickstarter.


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