Katharine Smith builds instruments for Wm. S. Haynes Co.

by | Products & People

Making for the Boston Symphony

Fellow flutist Katharine Smith understands the appeal of the workshop firsthand. She earned a bachelor’s degree in music education but wasn’t sure if teaching was the right path, so she embarked on a year-long instrument repair program at a tech school in Minnesota. Now, as a body maker at Acton flute manufacturer Wm. S. Haynes Co., she tackles the earliest steps in the production process, working on raw metal tubes with both small bench tools and powerful machines.

“I really like working on machines,” Smith says. “You have to be very focused. It brings you into this state of mind where you’re really in the zone. I feel like I get my best work when I’m in that headspace.”

The bench work, meanwhile, is “kind of the same skill set as jewelry making.”

Indeed, the flutes are made with precious metals – silver, gold and even platinum – and the two brothers who founded the company, William and George Haynes, were originally jewelers. They built their first flute at the request of a member of the Boston Symphony in 1888, making Haynes the country’s oldest flute maker. 

Katharine Smith, 28

Body maker, Wm. S. Haynes Co., Acton

Products: Flutes
Education: Bachelor of arts in music education and a year-long technical program in band instrument repair
Favorite band: The Shins. I saw them last year in Boston, and it was so amazing.”
Average salary for his position*: $39,040

*Based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data

“It’s really cool to be a part of American history and music history,” Smith says.