Unique Program Teaches Students of All Ages the Art of Violin Making

Mike Lawson • News • December 14, 2015

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A local community college is keeping the art of violin making alive.

Students in Joe Thrift’s violin-making class at Surry Community College love what they do.
“It’s the only class I’ve ever taken where people get in an hour early, and at ten at night, Joe is stompin’ his foot saying, ‘come on guys, it’s time to leave!'” said student Mack Collins. “It’s a hobby and a passion. It’s just fun!”
“My youngest student is 18 and my oldest is 81, and we have everything in between,” Thrift said.
Thrift started the program two and a half years ago.
It’s the only community college in the country to offer such a program.
“I’m originally one of the first students,” Collins said. “I got into the very first class, so even after I finish one fiddle, I’ll continue to the next. This thing is so great.”
“It’s incredibly detailed work,” said student Russell McCumber. “I just finished a violin that took me about 400 hours to make.”
“There’s something about it, the whole aspect of making an instrument from scratch by hand,” Thift said. “We use a drill press and a band saw, and that’s about all.”

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