Inside the Violin Building Shop at Indiana University
September 9, 2015 | 8:43 am CDT
Indiana University Violin Shop
Photogapher Rabi Abanour stopped by the violin shop at Indiana University shop and produced a short video clip, noting:
Rabi Abanour: "The Indiana University Violin Shop is tucked away inside the IU Jacobs School of Music. Up an elevator, down a hall, through a locker room, and up a staircase, you can find a workshop full of aspiring luthiers. Thomas Sparks leads a two-year program in violin-making. I was fortunate enough to spend two days in the shop several weeks ago producing a short video for a class project. This is the result of my time there.

Sparks is director of String Instrument Technology at Indiana University in Bloomington, IN. He teaches classes in violin building and repair. Sparks attended the New School ( New York City) and Indiana University, and was a former consultant and buyer for G.L.P. Inc., in the U.S., France, and England. Professor Sparks worked as restoration foreman at Old Library Inc., and as a violin maker and repairer at Esty Violins. He is a recording artist with Rounder Records and the former United States Irish Fiddle Champion (1980-82).

Here is a transcription of a video profile of the shop by Abanour.

Thomas Sparks: “We’re in the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music violin shop.
My interest in violin making came when I was young – I don’t remember the exact age – but I took apart my mother’s violin to see what was inside and that’s when I met my first violin maker, who had to put the instrument back together.

“I have been with the shop since 1978. It’s a violin making program. It’s unuisual. I think if you ask anyone who has come into the program what they thought when they came in, what their expectations were, and now that they are here, what they think."

Kit Holden: “I just started this year. I’m a base performance major. Really I came up here to fulfill the credits. Maybe be able to do some work on my base myself and save some money. But it’s kind of become…it’s kind of taken me over. I really look forward every single day to this class. Unless I cannot absolutely make it I am always up here every single day. I didn’t think I would be that interested in building a violin. But it’s kind of become a secondary passion."


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Bill Esler | ConfSenior Editor

Bill wrote for, FDMC and Closets & Organized Storage magazines. 

Bill's background includes more than 10 years in print manufacturing management, followed by more than 30 years in business reporting on industrial manufacturing in the forest products industries, including printing and packaging at American Printer (Features Editor) and Graphic Arts Monthly (Editor in Chief) magazines; and in secondary wood manufacturing for

Bill was deeply involved with the launches of the Woodworking Network Leadership Forum, and the 40 Under 40 Awards programs. He currently reports on technology and business trends and develops conference programs.

In addition to his work as a journalist, Bill supports efforts to expand and improve educational opportunities in the manufacturing sectors, including 10 years on the Print & Graphics Scholarship Foundation; six years with the U.S. WoodLinks; and currently on the Woodwork Career Alliance Education Committee. He is also supports the Greater West Town Training Partnership Woodworking Program, which has trained more than 950 adults for industrial wood manufacturing careers. 

Bill volunteers for Foinse Research Station, a biological field station staddling the border of Ireland and Northern Ireland, one of more than 200 members of the Organization of Biological Field Stations.