About Hermit Hill Folk Instruments

The Hermit at Work!

HHFI is owned and operated solely by myself, Alex DeWilde (pictured right), a central New York resident since early childhood. My business was established in December of 2012 starting with a simple line of non-tunable penny whistles in the key of D made from domestic and exotic hardwoods. Since then I have continued to grow the business to include a wide array of keys and a variety of different styles and tunable models to meet customers needs, as well as adding a line of hardwood presentation cases and my signature Celtic knot engravings. A great deal of time has gone in to developing all the neccessary tooling, fixtures, and jigs to speed up the contruction and even more time to tailor the techniques that go into fine tuning and finish work.

About the Maker

I began making penny whistles a little before Christmas of 2010 to try and make something special for my father that wouldn't be quite so much of a stretch on the fingers to play compared to his Alto recorder. I had scoured the internet and came across numerous guides for making penny whistles from pieces of copper and pvc plumbing pipe, but could never quite get over the idea of gifting a glorified piece of plumbing pipe. That being said I chose to focus on making a hardwood version and began the long and at times grueling process of teaching myself wood turning and machining to actually make the instrument and started on the longer road towards actually being able to play the instruments.

While my family had a fairly extensive musical background I was somewhat of a late bloomer coming into music. My father had long been accomplished with a number of instruments since his school days ranging from the flute, clarinet, saxaphone, bassoon, recorder, and more recently the Scottish bagpipes. My great grandmother on my father's side had been a very accomplished pianist that played for the silent movie theatres while my great grandfather on my mother's side played in a group that garnered a command performance in front of the King of England prior to World War II. While I'm a far cry from this level of performance I can say that I'm fairly thoroughly "paper trained," as my friends have jokingly described being able to read and play from sheet music, and while no virtuoso by any means have continued to teach myself and progress my playing over the last several years.

About the Future

In time I hope to continue to expand the business to include more instruments outside of the penny whistle, the most likely routes being a continuation into other members of the woodwind family. I have always had a keen interest in the bagpipes and hope to eventually start into this realm, though as with the penny whistles it will also be a journey to not only build them but actually be able to play them equally as well. The flute and fife also are instruments I plan to work towards since they would build off my current experiences with the penny whistle.