Ethan Erwin is an inventor.
When he was a fifth-grader in Hot Springs Lakeside schools, he won second place and a $500 U.S. Savings Bond in the national Invent America! student invention contest. His invention was a bait retriever.
“That started me in the direction of inventing,” said Erwin of Magnet Cove. He is now 18, a cum laude honor graduate of Lakeside High School and a freshman at the University of Central Arkansas Honors College in Conway.
His latest invention is a short bow for violin.
This short bow, which is worn on the musician’s hand, allows the violinist to sing and play the instrument like a guitar.
“I’m always thinking about different ideas,” Erwin said. “About two years ago, I got to thinking about making a violin tool. When you play violin, you use both hands and your chin to hold it down. You cannot sing and play the violin as you play it traditionally. With the short bow, singing is a possibility.
“But the short bow does not by any means replace the traditional bow. It is definitely for those performers who want to fill in with song. That would mean a new market, and it would be almost like a new instrument. I have invented that instrument and have proven it works. I have applied for a patent, and it should be coming any day.”
He said it takes at least two years before any patent is approved. Erwin said the shortbow might not appeal to everyone.
“It is definitely for country, pop and rock musicians,” he said. “The classical musician is very traditional and wants it to be the same as it was in 1700. So they would not consider the short bow as classical or traditional, but for the country fiddler, it definitely would be useful.”
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Erwin has met with a representative of Glasser Bows of New York City who has agreed to manufacture the short bow, “if I drum up the market for it,”Erwin said. “They made me a prototype that I can use for demonstrations.”
The short bow Glasser Bows sent him is made of fiberglass and is essentially a long bow that has been cut down.