I have been privileged to study with two of the world’s great teachers.
From them I have received both a strong training in classical, traditional
violinmaking and appreciation for important research in violin acoustics
Above all, I thank Geigenbaumeister Karl Roy for training
my eye and hand. Formerly the Director of the State School for Violinmaking
in Mittenwald, Bavaria, Karl Roy is both a master teacher and an extraordinary
craftsman. He has taught violinmaking at the Program for Violin Craftsmanship
at the University of New Hampshire for more than 30 summers. I worked
closely with Karl for 19 years, ultimately serving as his Assistant,
responsible for teaching the class when he had to be absent. I am
currently working with Karl to prepare his monumental book, “The Violin:
Its History and Making,” for publication in 2006. For additional information
about the book, please visit www.KarlRoyViolinBook.com.
Hutchins, renowned for her path breaking research into violin acoustics,
taught me to think about the physical basis for what we hear in a
fine violin. She is best known for her work on plate graduation, but
her methods and interests go far beyond that, to include air and body
modes in the assembled instrument, wood, grounds, and varnishes. Thanks
to Carleen, I became an active member of the Catgut Acoustical Society,
serving as Trustee, Society President, and Editor of the CAS Journal.
In addition to Karl Roy and Carleen Hutchins, I have been fortunate
to work with a number of other excellent teachers. Deena Zalkind Spear
and her husband Robert had a violin shop in the Washington, DC area
for many years. Deena taught me instrument setup as well as classical
violinmaking. Deena’s specialty, however, was acoustical adjustment,
where her extraordinary ear and intuition produced remarkable results.
She has been generous in sharing her understanding and procedures
Geary Baese taught me the Classical Italian approach to varnishing,
based on his many years of research into the ancient recipes and practices.
In addition to his work with varnish, Geary has thought deeply about
the Classical Cremonese principles of violin design, the basis, he
believes, for the distinctive and desirable tone quality. I have benefited
much from what he has taught.
My very first teacher was Willis M.
Gault, a long-time maker in the Washington, D. C. area. I came to
Willis 25 years ago as a cellist who thought it would be interesting
and fun to make an instrument for myself. When I told Willis that
I wished to make a cello, he said: “First, we make a violin.” A wise
man. Although I had played the cello for almost all my life, no one
really understands how large a cello is until he or she has made a
violin and contemplates what the size difference means in terms of
work. Gregg Alf, who passed through the Gault School of Violinmaking
a few years before me, has written of him: “although Willis was not
known for his precision of cut, he taught me perhaps the greatest
lesson: to truly love the role of helping each instrument to emerge.”
[The Strad, November 1995] I share and hope I display Willis's enthusiasm
and love for this craft.