Repaired violins help students make beautiful music

7:27 PM, Dec 11, 2012   |    comments
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A local non-profit dedicated to music and a man from Powell have formed a bond that helps students.

At age 45, Mike Connell was inspired to learn the violin.

"It can't be that hard. I'm going to learn to play the violin. Well it is that hard," he said with a laugh.

After a friend dropped his first violin and broke it, he learned how to repair it.

"You can take a violin completely apart and find out what's wrong on the inside and put it back together," he said.

He heard about the Joy of Music School and its mission to provide free music education. He volunteered to teach.

"When I talked to Julie about being an instructor I just happened to mention that I could set a bridge or set a sound post or put a tail piece on. I can basically do most anything with a violin. Her eyes lit up and she said that's what we really need," Connell recalled.

So he started taking home five or six violins at a time. They had been donated to the Joy of Music School but were in need of some tender loving care.

He repairs damage, replaces parts, and restores the original beauty of the musical instruments.

"You just kind of work on them as you want to work on them and then you take them back over to her and she says when you come in, Mike, it's like Christmas," he said.

Over the past two years Mike has delivered more than 30 violins to the Joy of Music School, ready for students to play.

"It means so much to have someone who has the energy, the time, the talent, the skill, to give to repair instruments," Joy of Music School Executive Director Frank Graffeo said.

Repairs to a donated instrument can cost hundreds of dollars. Frank Graffeo said people like Mike are crucial to the non-profit organization.

"Our teachers are all volunteers. People like Mike who fix things help us just not have to spend money on things and help keep this operation running," he said.

Mike Connell isn't running out of skills to learn. He used the internet to teach himself how to repair bows.

"It's been great for both of us because I've gotten better at doing it and we've been able to provide the kids with some bows they can use," he said.

He calls his relationship with the Joy of Music School a win win.

"I get to do something I love to do and get better at it and then they get an instrument back that's playable," he said.

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