Carleen Maley Hutchins
For String Players

Hutchins would like to see her teaching start to reach string players themselves. Her work has done much to demystify instruments, but most players do not read scientific journals and many makers are only glad to retain the mystery. She offers the following as important pieces of advice for players of violin family instruments:[FN 124]

• It is possible for violin makers today, using technical information that's been developed over the last thirty years, to make fine violins every time. There is no need to pay millions of dollars to get a good instrument

• It will take some years for an instrument to be "played in"; you can't do it overnight even though we can shake them up [accomplished by playing a radio station through a speaker attached to the bridge] and make them sound better temporarily. You can't do it in a hurry... If you look in the Hill book on the Guarneri family it says that it takes anywhere from twenty to eighty years to properly season a violin when it's been played fairly consistently by a good player. Now that says several things. It's the's consistent, and a good player. I don't think we're ever going to prove this, but I'm almost sure that it takes a good player to make a really fine sounding instrument because the instruments will respond to what's being done to them. As I shake them with a radio station, a lot of yickety-yak comes through at the same's not the same thing as being well-played.

• I think violin players should realize what happens when violins are repaired and restored, and what happens to them tone-wise, not just box-wise. You know you can make a pretty box, but you can also louse up the tone rather effectively.

Hutchins has received a number of honors during her long career, including two Guggenheim Fellowships (1959, 1961), four grants from the Martha Baird Rockefeller Fund for Music (1966, 1974, 1978, 1982), and honorary degrees from the Stevens Institute of Technology (1977), Hamilton College (1984), St. Andrews Presbyterian College (1988), and Concordia University (1992), and the Silver Medal from the Acoustical Society of America (1981). No honor, however, has ever deterred her from continuing her work, which goes on with continued vigor and uncompromising standards at the age of 82. In 1993 she was in Baltimore for Yo-Yo Ma's concert and to the Stockholm International Music Acoustics Conference, and she continues to plan for the future. Hutchins knows that she has started more projects than she can finish in her lifetime, but in the end sees herself as part of the history of violin-making and research, a history that is still being written.

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