The Violin Shop MAG

By Kristen, Auburn, NY

     One of my favorite things about being a violinistis the occasional visit I make to McBlaine's workshop. Situated in a small townin a valley on Otisco Lake, his garage is a place where area musicians, mainlyviolinists, can come for whatever they need for their instruments.

Thedrive alone is enjoyable. Since I live on one of the busiest streets in a smallcity, going to a quiet country village is a refreshing change. It takes a littleover half an hour to get there, and I spend most of the time looking out thewindow. The road, which is right above the lake, winds and twists as it carvesthrough the edge of the hill; there's something interesting around everybend.

I'll never forget one trip last year. It was early November, and afarmer had just finished cutting the last of his crops. The air was crisp with awintry chill, but the skies were perfectly clear. As usual, I had my face againstthe window, looking for something of interest.

I wasn't disappointed. Tomy left, as far as I could see, were hundreds of deer in the field. They musthave been eating the remains of the crop. Among them were almost as many wildturkeys, also enjoying the leftovers. Never in my life had I seen anything likeit. I pointed it out to my dad, and he slowed down so we could watch. We didn'tthink they would still be there on our way home, but to our surprise, theywere.

Down the road, at the end of the lake, is the

quietstreet where McBlaine lives. If we're lucky we get a spot in his driveway, butsince many people are usually there, we often end up parking in theroad.

Every time I go to his shop, I can't help but look around. It is aunique place, right down to the smell, which is a mix of old wood, varnish, a bitof glue and the mustiness of a garage. Violins hang from the ceiling and walls,all in a row. Some are gorgeous pieces of craftsmanship just waiting to beplayed. It takes a while for a violin to "open up," which makes itdifficult when buying a new one. Many of the violins are incomplete, not sandedor finished, and others are in the process of being repaired. It is impossible tolook around and not see a violin.

Then there is also the occasionalfluke instrument: a guitar or bass, or maybe even a banjo. On one wall is a hugetable with dentist's equipment next to it, and a small jar of water boiling on aportable heater to add humidity to the room. McBlaine finds the dentist'sequipment useful in repairing violins because the instruments can fit easilyinside the f-holes" (the f-shaped openings on the front of the violin fromwhich the sound is released).

McBlaine is always willing to let me"test-drive" a few violins for him. He loves to hear opinions on howthey sound. Lately I've been shopping for a new one, which is definitely noteasy. You can play one and think it sounds great, then pick up another and thinkit sounds really bad, and when handed the two same instruments again, youropinions can completely reverse. It's strange, but McBlaine says it happens toeveryone. These past few times, I'll play a violin and all I can say is, "Idon't know ... I really have no idea what I want." It is funny how mucheasier it is when you don't feel pressured to make a real decision.

Iused to think my favorite part of going to his shop was just being there, butI've realized that it is much more than that. When I go there with my dad, I feelcloser to him than at any other time. At home, I often find myself doing whatmost kids do, being stubborn. Sometimes it's hard to avoid a fight. When we go toMcBlaine's together, my dad and I can only enjoy each other's company as wedrive, usually listening to his favorite classical CD - Vivaldi's Four Seasons -pointing out things we see along the way and just talking. It is unfortunate thatthese days our trips to McBlaine's are some of the few times I get to really talkto him. They bring us closer, even if only for an hour or two, and I can't thinkof anything I want more than that.

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i love this so much!


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