Teacher & Student Use Technology To Help Guitar Player Live His Dream

MUNHALL (KDKA) — The newly-opened Munhall Music Academy is a lifelong dream for owner Jason Novak.

He started playing guitar when he was 12, a remarkable achievement for a boy born with only one hand.

“Neighbors had some guitars and I really wanted to play,” he recalls. “I couldn’t use a pick like everybody else. So my dad decided to make a pick out of what we had lying around the house to set me up and playing. And it worked out.”

He played with homemade picks made of washer clamps, metal and PVC pipe until this year, when a friend and colleague made a personal guitar pick that turned his life around.

That specialized pick was designed and created by a technology teacher and a student at Steel Valley High School, where Jason works as a guidance counselor. Teacher Randy Zirkle and graduating senior Aaron Kornacki produce custom guitar picks on the school’s 3D printer.

“He wanted the picking process to be more flexible, so we could control that in the design process,” the teacher says.

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“There were many trial and errors,” Aaron adds. “It had to fit on this person. It had to be comfortable.”

Jason says it was a perfect fit.

“It is really a game changer, what Mr. Zirkle and the kids at the school have been able to do for me,” he said.

Zirkle is glad it worked out for his friend.

“To be able to use your creativity and your skills to help someone do what they love, better and easier for them, that’s what it’s all about,” he said.

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