Dr Ted’s Musical Marvels: Instruments that Play Themselves

As a youth, Dr. Ted Waflart frequented a local Louisville amusement park with his buddies. His favorite ride was the carousel, but he couldn’t let his friends know that. So he rode roller coasters with them. However, whenever Ted passed the carousel, he slowed his pace, for it was the calliope music, rather than riding the carved horses, that really captured his attention. Today Dr Ted’s Musical Marvels, in southern Indiana’s Dubois County, showcases Dr. Ted’s mechanical music instruments that he has collected and restored for over 40 years.

The beginning of Dr. Ted’s Collection

Dr. Ted went to Appalachia on a summer program while in medical school. While there, he found an old pump organ in an antique shop and was fascinated by its ornateness. He thought it would be fun to take it home, restore it, and get it playing again. Since he was a mechanical engineer before he went into the medical field, he had the tools and mechanical knowledge, but he didn’t know a thing about pump organs. He did a lot of research at the library (there was no internet in those days), and a friend referred him to someone who collected mechanical musical instruments. Dr. Ted fully restored the organ, and from there, his collection snowballed.

Don’t miss a Midwest Wanderer post.  For a FREE subscription, enter your e-mail address in the Subscribe2 box to the right and click Subscribe.

Touring Dr Ted’s Musical Marvels

Dr Ted’s Musical Marvels is small by museum standards. You could walk the length of the museum in less than a minute—if your eyes were closed. But with open eyes you can’t help but to stop and take in all the stuff. Toys from days gone by, a collection of old irons, mirrors that distort your body this way and that, and so much more fill nook, cranny, and wall space in the museum.

antique irons at Dr Ted's Musical Marvels

Fun mirrors at Dr Ted's Musical Marvels

Carousel horses at Dr Ted's Musical Marvels

And then there are the mechanical musical instruments, everything from a player piano to a huge dance hall organ. All of the instruments play themselves in one way or another. Perforated paper rolls play the pianos and some organs. Big perforated cardboard books play other organs. Cylinders or disks with prongs play music-box style tunes. Even the early record player runs mechanically, not electronically. You don’t only hear the music of many of the instruments, but watch as keyboards play, cymbals clang, and accordions fan.

Since Dr. Ted still practices medicine, his wife, Mary Kay, is often the tour guide when groups visit. She and Ted both gave us the tour on our visit, starting with the player piano, progressing to street organs and finally the massive dance hall organ.

Player piano at Dr Ted's Musical Marvels
Mary Kay Waflart uses foot pedals to power the player piano.
Dr Ted's Musical Marvels - 1
Dr Ted demonstrates one of his many mechanical musical instruments
Dutch street organ
Dutch street organ

Dr Teds Musical Marvels 2

Dance hall organ
Dance hall organ

Dr Teds Musical Marvels - 3

Behind the scenes

Dr. Ted was kind enough to take us behind the Wurlitzer dance hall organ to show us how the perforated cardboard books feed into the organ.

We also got a sneak peek at his latest project, an old Gavioli street organ. It once had drum wings on each end, but when Dr. Ted bought it, the wings had been removed. He has completely disassembled the organ and is restoring the organ, including adding the drum wings back onto it. He had European woodcarvers create ornate carvings for the wings based on photos.

Gavioli organ - restoration in progress
Gavioli street organ – restoration in progress

Dr. Ted is looking forward to retiring from his medical practice sometime in the next few years.  When he does, he plans to spend more time in his shop, perfecting the looks and the mechanics of his musical marvels.

If you visit Dr Ted’s Musical Marvels

Dr Ted’s Musical Marvels is located at 11896 South U.S. 231, near Dale, Indiana. Currently, they offer only group tours. If you have a group of 15 or more, you can contact them at contact@drteds.com. You should plan about an hour and a half for the tour. Check the website for further details.

Accommodations: We stayed at the Hampton Inn Jasper during our visit to the area. Check rates and reviews.

Disclosures: Dr Ted’s Musical Marvels hosted our visit to the museum. Our admission was complimentary. Howev

Pin It!

Dr Teds Musical Marvels

Disclosures: Dr. Ted’s Musical Marvels hosted our visit to the museum. However, any opinions in this article are my own.
This article contains an affiliate link. If you book a room through the “Check rates and reviews” link above, I will receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you.

Thank you for reading Midwest Wanderer. Don’t miss a post. Enter your e-mail address below and click Subscribe. We will notify you whenever we publish another post. Subscription is FREE. After subscribing, be sure to click the link when you get the e-mail asking you to confirm.   – Connie


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *