© 2024 Interlochen
CLASSICAL IPR | 88.7 FM Interlochen | 94.7 FM Traverse City | 88.5 FM Mackinaw City IPR NEWS | 91.5 FM Traverse City | 90.1 FM Harbor Springs/Petoskey | 89.7 FM Manistee/Ludington
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Traverse City welcomes first-ever stringed instrument shop

Traverse City Violin Company
Traverse City Violin Company

The Traverse City Violin Company will be a hub for violin, viola, cello and bass sales and repairs in northern Michigan.

This month, Traverse City will welcome its first-ever shop that focuses primarily on stringed instruments.

The Traverse City Violin Company will sell and repair violins, violas, cellos and double basses in its location on North Garfield Road.

The shop is the brainchild of Karine Pierson, a northern Michigan native who studied violin at Interlochen Arts Academy and the University of Michigan.

She said that although Traverse City has a number of music stores, it has lacked one that specializes in stringed instruments.

Until now, local string players have had to travel downstate to get their instruments repaired.

"There is an enormous need for string instrument repair in Traverse City," said Crispin Campbell, principal cello of the Traverse Symphony Orchestra and longtime instructor at Interlochen Center for the Arts. "There are great shops in Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor, but those require a half or whole day's trip just for a basic repair."

Now, musicians can get their instruments repaired in Traverse City. If the repairs can't be made in the shop, then Pierson and her staff will take care of transporting the instruments elsewhere - saving local musicians from having to make the trips themselves.

The Traverse City Violin Company will sell stringed instruments, sheet music and accessories for stringed instruments
The Traverse City Violin Company will sell stringed instruments, sheet music and accessories for stringed instruments

The shop will carry not only instruments but also important accessories for stringed instruments such as strings and rosin.

In addition, the Traverse City Violin Company will stock electric stringed instruments from Cauldron Music, made by Traverse City-based luthier Caul Bluhm.

But stringed instrument sales and repairs are just the tip of the iceberg for this new venture.

The Traverse City Violin Company will also offer luthier services and piano repair services.

Although many string players can do minor repairs on their own instruments, more advanced repairs require the services of a luthier.

To that end, Pierson is partnering with Mark Schwartz, a luthier who splits his time between Flint and Interlochen.

The demand for the repair services he provides is so high, however, that Schwartz is also teaching Pierson and her staff how to rehair bows. (The bows for stringed instruments are made out of horse hair.) This is one of the most in-demand and time-consuming services a luthier provides.

"When I first started out, Mark didn't want to show me how to rehair bows," Pierson said in an email. "You mess up a lot and have to buy a lot of horse hair, around $20K worth, and it takes about two years to learn."

Eventually, Pierson said, Schwartz relented because there was just too much demand for him to be able to keep up on his own.

Local musicians and music educators agree more luthier services available in Traverse City will be a welcome addition.

"This community really needs luthier services," said Lynne Tobin, music director and conductor of the Traverse Symphony Orchestra Civic Educational programs. "It's really important to have a local store that specializes in strings."

There is also an educational arm to the Traverse City Violin Company.

MIMusic Studio (formerly Vokey Music, and pronounced "my music") offers piano, voice, guitar, percussion, and stringed instrument lessons and classes in the same building.

The site will also be the administrative home of the MIMusic Scholarship Fund.

The grand opening of the Traverse City Violin Company is June 11 starting at 4 p.m.

Corrected: June 12, 2023 at 8:59 PM EDT
In an earlier version of this story, luthier Mark Schwartz's name was misspelled. It has been corrected.
Dr. Amanda Sewell is IPR's music director.