Madison K. Moline and Faculty Mentor: Dr. Samuel Tsugawa, School of Music
My ORCA project was to study, practice, and teach string instrument maintenance and
repair. The repairs that I learned were: closing and opening seams;; closing cracks in
various parts of the instrument;; bridge and sound post alignment and placement;; neck
and fingerboard adjustment;; nut and saddle raising and replacing;; peg alteration and
replacement;; cleaning and polishing instruments. Because there is such a need for
inexpensive timely repair in an orchestra classroom, it was crucial that I not only learn
these basic repairs myself, but assist local orchestra teachers with their repair needs,
and teach fellow future teachers.
While I had originally planned to study with an individual luthier, the opportunity arose to
study at The Violin Making School of America in Salt Lake with multiple professional
luthier teachers. I attended two weeks of their new repair courses and learned almost all
of the repairs that I had planned, through the process of repairing many instruments in
dire need from Springville Junior High. On top of maintenance and repair, the teachers
taught me how to properly use and sharpen tools, gave guidance for listening for tone
and identifying specific instruments, and helped me understand when to let a
professional take over.
With the new knowledge, I created a digital workbook full of pictures and diagrams to
help guide anyone who would like to know more about repair. I also put together a
hands-on lesson for the students in String Workshop to help them gain a basic
knowledge of the make of the instruments as well as basic maintenance and repair.
With the hiring of another string specialist in the BYU Instrument Office, I have been
able to gradually teach him several repairs on BYU instruments in need and have been
able to give him access to the information that I have created, to help him in his learning
process. As I have become more comfortable using my tools to repair the inexpensive
junior high instruments, I have worked my way into repairing different BYU string
instruments almost weekly.
The 5 results of my project are (1) many repaired instruments from Springville Junior
High, (2) a yearly interactive presentation about instrument maintenance and repair in
Music 375, the BYU String Workshop class, (3) a digital notebook filled with pictures
and diagrams about the repair, (4) repair training to an additional string specialist in the
BYU Instrument Office, and (5) the repair of numerous BYU string instruments.
The last 3 results are continuous and will be added upon and will continue until I
graduate in 2020.
Studying string instrument maintenance and repair has increased my understanding of
the string family and has given me the knowledge that I need to approach an instrument
with experience and insight. I no longer fearful of harming instruments instead of helping
them, so I am able to comfortably assess and work on practically any string instrument.
The repair experience that I now have enables me to do repairs in and out of an
orchestra classroom, to repair many of BYU’s instruments in need, local schools, or to
teach those wanting to learn.
It is crucial that students have functioning instruments to learn how to play. Because
many schools lack funding, and teachers lack instrument and repair knowledge, many
instruments are played (when they shouldn’t be), or are put out of commission when
they only need a simple repair. With the knowledge and skills that I have gained through
this project, I plan to help save instruments in my future classroom, in as many local
schools as I can, and share maintenance and repair skills with whomever would like to
learn- so that every child in an orchestra program can have a working instrument in their