For the past 40 years, IU Jacobs School of Music has been home to the only full-service university violin shop & violin making program in the United States. This shop exists to serve the needs of the student string players and to train violin makers and restorers. Now Prof. Tom Sparks is retiring, but the JSOM Administration has yet to name a successor or begin a search. This petition will serve to show the Administration that the Stringed Instrument Tech Program is a valued part of the JSOM institution and has broad support for its continuation:
We - the undersigned students, faculty, alumni, and community members - are writing in support of hiring a replacement for outgoing professor Tom Sparks, and for the continuation of the Stringed Instrument Technology program at the JSOM.
Founded in 1978 at the urging of Joseph Gingold and Janos Starker, the violin shop and violin making course marks its fortieth year this fall. Over the last four decades, the shop, its instructors, and its students have provided immeasurable benefit to the string students and faculty. Violin making students from IU have gone on to distinguish themselves and their alma mater in all fields of the trade, winning awards for workmanship and tone, serving as expert restorers of antique instruments, and working for the most eminent dealers of fine violins.
The Stringed Instrument Technology program is the only one of its kind – no other school of violin making exists within a world-class conservatory of music. This unique situation is of profound benefit to all concerned parties:
- The string players of the JSOM are provided with access to an expert luthier and his/her assistants, who provide many services free that would otherwise cost the players hundreds of dollars in travel and fees. The presence of the shop ensures that emergency repairs can be made immediately, which is ideal for both instrumental health and instructional continuity.
- The string faculty does not have to worry about the condition of their students' equipment, which in the sometimes harsh and variable climatic conditions of Southern Indiana can be a major concern.
- The professor and students of the program maintain the school's considerably large and valuable collection of stringed instruments.
- The students of the program are able to study fine and rare instruments brought in by string students and faculty almost daily, a boon only possible at such a renowned conservatory. Violin making students are also able to get expert feedback on their completed instruments from the string playing community at IU, which is critical to the proper development of making.
- The uniqueness of the program represents yet another mark of distinction for the JSOM, who boasts the only full-service violin shop of any conservatory in the United States. This is not an insignificant selling point for talented string players considering the JSOM for their education, as it provides peace of mind for players of the world's most valuable and delicate instruments.
It is our sincerest hope that the administration agrees regarding the value of the program, and will select a distinguished luthier to fill Professor Sparks' position, securing the future of the Stringed Instrument Technology program for the next generation of Hoosier violin makers and string players.
Update #18 months ago
Friends of the Violin Shop,
Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts! In just a few days we have received almost 500 signatures and dozens of heartfelt testimonials showing what this program means to us all. It is truly heartening to see this kind of support!
We aren't done yet. Let's keep this momentum all the way to 1,000 signatures, which will be impossible for the admins to ignore. Please, continue talking about this issue and sharing the petition. We can do it!
The Violin Shop crew