Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Repairing Violins in Small Town America: This One's Personal

A tip of the hat to the Sauk Centre Herald, for permission to re-post this article, from their December 21, 2010, edition.
Bringing music back to life
Jill Warren, staff writer, Sauk Centre Herald (December 21, 2010)

"Kaas takes on violin restoration

"Deacon Lawrence Kaas has taught himself how to repair violins. For the last five months he has been perfecting the fine mechanics of working with the instrument." Sauk Centre Herald photo by Jill Warren

"Since it's origination in the 1500's, the violin has been producing beautiful music, and during the 17th and 18th centuries the art of violin making soured. Today, people of all ages enjoy playing the instrument, and Deacon Lawrence Kaas enjoys repairing them.

" 'I am convinced that if I follow the rules of building and repairing violins, I can make any violin sound it's best. The rest is up to the person playing it,' Kaas said.

"The art of violin repair, and violin playing, is new to Kaas. He grew up playing the piano, and only started repairing violins about five months ago.

" 'I'm 77 years old and I just started a new trade,' said Kaas who also does wood carvings and clock repair.

"Working with intricate projects is nothing new for Kaas. He has been doing fine mechanics and woodworking since he was in high school. For Kaas, it's not a question of if he can do it, but a question of how long it will take him to perfect the skills necessary to do it.

" 'You can't just pick up a violin and fix it,' he said. 'There's a lot of practice that goes into perfecting that kind of work.'

"Kaas reads books to learn how to do things, and the art of violin repair just happens to be a subject he has familiarized himself with lately.

"Kaas started learning about this trade by practicing on violins of his own that he acquired from family members or found in pawnshops.

"His woodworking background was helpful, especially when it comes to being familiar with the vast array of intricate tools needed to repair the instruments.

"Kaas fixed his first violin for someone else three months ago, and now he is working on several violin repairs for other people.

"Repairs can range from replacing a bridge, mending a seam or crack and reattaching broken pieces. The fixes can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.

"Through this process, Kaas has learned a lot about the violin and has even started playing the instrument.

"The favorite part for Kaas, though, is learning the stories behind each of his projects.

" 'I love when a violin comes in and has a story behind it,' Kass said. 'You wish you could know the story behind every violin that came in.'

"Whether it's a violin belonging to a customer's great-grandfather that just needs tuning, or a cracked violin abandoned at a pawnshop, every violin that comes into Kaas's workshop gets the attention of a skilled craftsman."
As a rule, this blog runs micro-reviews: not an entire article.

What's different this time is that Deacon Kaas is my father-in-law. One might say that I took this topic more personally than most. I plan to be back tomorrow, with opinions about whatever I find online.

Again, my thanks to the Sauk Centre Herald: for permission to re-post their article.


Brigid said...

The Herald has a gender? "Sauk Centre Herald, for permission to re-post his article, from their December"

Shouldn't that be an end quote? "I just started a new trade,² said Kaas"

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

P.S. Cool! Grandpa's in the paper!

Brian, aka Aluwir, aka Norski said...


Thanks - I thought I'd spotted all those little 'not quite a quote' characters. And, the typo in the first paragraph is fixed.

Finally: Cool! Indeed.

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