Copeland Woodwinds – Makers of fine handmade wooden flutes & irish whistles
In 1949, Michael Copeland was born into a musical family in Westport, Connecticut. His father was an artist and trumpet player, and made sure all four of his sons had musical instruments to enjoy. Michael became interested in the pipe organ during his teen years. Through junior high and high school, he played electric guitar and organ in several rock bands. After high school, Michael attended Berklee School of Music in Boston. He soon realized that he was a rock musician in a jazz school! After leaving Berklee, he worked for a year at the Fisk Pipe Organ Company in Gloucester, Massachusetts. This was where he had his first shop experience. The road beckoned, and by his mid 20’s Michael had traveled the country and resided in several communes. It was during that time that he began gathering tools to make bamboo flutes. He started widdling with a pocketknife given to him by his father, originally owned by his grandfather. Michael also enjoyed
making jewelry at this time.
He purchased his first wood lathe in the early 70’s to make highland and lowland bagpipes. Flutemaking gradually took over pipe making. By the late 70’s, Michael had made his first keyless flute. In 1974, Michael met Fred Oster, owner of Vintage Instruments in Philadelphia. He eventually moved his shop there. Fred’s shop had plenty of antique instruments for Michael to study and repair. This repair work (especially on the older instruments) helped Michael develop his own design. Michael moved his shop to his home in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania in 1986.
In that same year, Michael received a Pennsylvania Council of the Arts Grant for his instrument making. This grant helped him to purchase a metal lathe and milling machine. Soon, Michael tried his hand at penny whistle making. Through his flute making experience, Michael understood the advantages of a tapered bore. This was evident to him through the mellow sound of a Clarke Penny Whistle. Michael applied the tapered bore of the flute to his Low D whistle design. Soon, other pitches followed and the family of Copeland whistles was launched. Michael jumped into the industry head first with the help of skilled whistle players including Tim Britton, Bill Ochs, and Wendy Morrison. Michael first met Jim Rementer in the fall of 1997. Once Michael and Jim
decided to join forces in August of 1998, Copeland Woodwinds Company was born.
Jim Rementer was born in 1952 in Philadelphia, PA. After graduating from Deptford High School in New Jersey, he entered the US Navy. Jim married his high school sweetheart in 1972 and not long after began working as an apprentice in a violin maker’s shop in South Philadelphia. He was trained to work on guitar, banjo, mandolin repair and various other string instrument
restorations. After a few years working various jobs, including photography, cabinet making, and finish carpentry, Jim began an apprenticeship with the Department of the Navy in 1980. Three years later, he earned journey machinist papers from the Commonwealth of PA. Jim continued to work on Automatic Boiler Control Systems and Catapult & Arresting Gear systems on aircraft carriers.
By the late 80’s, Jim had landed a job as a Mechanical Engineering Technician for a few years and eventually received a lateral position as a Computer Systems Analyst due to his self-taught computer programming skills. He continued working in the computer field until 1994 when he left the Department of the Navy to start his own consulting business, Genesis
Computing, Inc. In the fall of 1997, Jim was introduced to Michael Copeland through a mutual friend, Tim Britton. They met in an Irish pub in Center City Philadelphia and talked intently about music and instrument making. Their friendship began by sitting outside the pub on the front step playing several whistles that Michael was carrying that night.
Soon, Jim began visiting Michael’s shop. They discussed ways to improve the fit of whistle tuning slides, making wooden flutes, as well as ways to build business infrastructure and develop a
website. It became obvious to both men that there was something more to be gained from spending time working together. In August of 1998, Jim began to work with Michael with a promise of
getting whistles as pay. After three months, the first “pay check” arrived – a Brass Low D whistle! Michael and Jim found that they had a synergy that made working together a great success. By
February of 1999, Michael and Jim decided that it was time to formalize their working relationship by becoming partners.
Thus began Copeland Woodwinds Company. Michael continued to teach Jim the art of whistle making. Jim’s business sense, organizational ability and aptitude for the production process helped the Copeland shop become more efficient. They have been working together ever since. Copeland Woodwinds was created & designed by Genesis Computing, Inc.
This interesting article is sponsored by Leigh Glass.