Talented young violinists embody a number of qualities — motivation, dedication and a certain innate musical aptitude. And in an ideal world, their talent would be channeled through a responsive instrument.
But in reality, that isn't always the case.
For a young violinist, playing a subpar violin can be like playing football with a broken arm; it is a severe limitation that gets in the way of the ultimate goal — in this case, making music.
Recognizing this, Oregon violinmaker Jonathan Franke, who has been a craftsman of fine stringed instruments for nearly 20 years, wants to use his skills to empower student violinists.
He has teamed up with Ken Altman, a craftsman of professional-quality bows, to establish the Franke/Altman Young Violinist Award, open to Oregon violinists between the ages of 12 and 21. The violinist who receives the award will enjoy the use of a fine violin and bow, handcrafted by Franke and Altman, for two years.
Franke/Altman Young Violinist Award
- Open to Oregon violinists age 12-21
- Award based on merit, potential and need
- Apply by November 1, 2011; Award granted November 15, 2011
- Learn more and download application
According to Franke, this award helps to fill a huge void in the availability of fine violins and bows for young musicians.
“There are instrument loan programs some students have access to, but there are virtually no fine violins and fine bows available,” says Franke.
And this lack may be holding many students back. Franke and Altman regularly come across young violinists whose instruments limit their progress.
“A lesser violin will not respond to what the violinist is asking it to do,” says Franke, who painstakingly evaluates his instruments for evenness of volume, pleasant tone and dynamic range. These are crucial qualities that take Franke’s violins to the next level — qualities that student violins often lack.
Giving students violins and bows that inspire, rather than inhibit, Franke explains, is a “recipe for students to reach their potential.”
For Franke, it is all about the possibilities that a fine violin creates. “Our goal,” he says, “is to encourage and inspire a talented young player — to see where music might take them.”
- Luthier Jon Franke Oregon Art Beat