Here it is!
This May, after months and months of (and a summer off from) measuring, planing, scraping, bending, waiting, cutting, chiseling, eyeing, shaping, watching, and learning, I finished making my violin.
There is so much I have to say about the process and the value of doing something I previously had no experience doing. Instead of going into that, I’ll say a little bit about the last day of making this violin.
Earlier this month, I brought my newborn little girl to the violin studio to learn about the finishing touches. She snoozed in her car seat as I worked with my instructor to shape a soundpost and install it, string the violin, and affix a label – the final step.
Then, we played the first notes. Well, Will played the very first notes. The other apprentices and I listened, paying attention to the deep register on the G and the pitch of the E string. My little girl observed in her own way raising her expressive little eyebrows, continuing her nap.
This is an amazing instrument, and I’m so proud to have made it. I play it as often as I can, and I really need for others to play it, too. So, if you are in the Twin Cities and you play violin, come on over. The violin needs to be played in, which helps continue to develop the sound.
I have ideas for my next violin, but I need to find the time and money to make it. Makers copy the masters – Stradivarius, Guarneri, Amati, and others. They’re all men, because makers were mostly men. There is a story about one famous maker, Joseph Guarneri del Gesu, who married a woman from a violin making family. Guarneri del Gesu’s health declined, and at the same time the quality of his instruments improved. Many think Guarneri del Gesu’s wife, Katarina, helped make the instruments during that time. In fact, some think Katarina was a maker in her own right. There are violins that have her name on the label.
Why not start copying instruments made by female masters? For my next violin, I would love to research Katarina’s violins, get photos and measurements, and make a copy of a Katarina Guarneri. There are other female makers, too.
But for now while my daughter naps, I think I’ll keep playing this beautiful and powerful violin I just made.