How violin can change one's life

Dear friends,

This project was made to raise money to buy an 1878 Collin-Mezin violin. This violin will enable me to reach a higher level on my instrument, necessary to start my Doctoral Degree. 

My current violin, while it has taken me this far, has reached a sound threshold. It's incapability is holding me back from reaching a higher level of playing, necessary to support the next step in my professional career.

I come from a humble family and had it not been for the generous scholarships and support that I have been blessed with, there would have been no other way to take my art as far as I have. As an international student, I cannot legally work in the country, nor take out loans. I have been working hard to keep my dream alive, but the lack of a good instrument has created many obstacles in my journey. 

An instrument is much more than a tool, but rather a sophisticated relationship that both challenges and inspires. I have had the priviledge to prepare and perform several concerts over the last three months an 1878 Collin-Mezin, a french violin,  and my time with this instrument has been nothing short of enriching.

My musical imagination has reaped the wonderful benefits of practicing on this instrument and in many ways I have regained a feeling of hope and confidence in my artistic self-expression. 
Unfortunately, I am in a predicament where if I cannot raise the money by the end of July to pay for this violin I have to return it.

As a violinist, my sound and my musical voice, not only depends on my talent but also upon the instrument I use. I created a very strong connection with the Collin Mezin, and my feelings hearing the sounds I produce with this violin are indescribable.
I'm sure that if I have to return this instrument part of my musical voice is going to be silenced. 

The cost of a professional violin varies on a wide spectrum and to find one of this quality at such a price is a challenge. I have played many instruments that have cost more than 10 times but did not speak as well in my hands. I am fortunate I found an instrument worth the fight.  

Music changed my life, and I have hopes of being able to change the lives of many for the better through the violin. 

It's my dream to further my education as a doctoral student and to sow all the benefits of learning an instrument with society by contributing to the whole community, sharing music and my love for the instrument.
In order to keep these dreams alive I really need a suitable violin.

You can be part of this story! Please help me keep the Collin Mezin!

Any contribution will help me in realizing this dream.

Alone we can do so little, together we can do the impossible!



How did you find it?

I first came across this instrument at the 2014 American String Teacher’s Association Convention hosted in Louisville, KY. I had been in the market for professional violin for the last three years but had neither the expenses nor the right encounter with an instrument that I could commit to. With, quite literally, minutes left in the convention I ran over to a table in the vender exposition to try one last instrument. The experience was nothing less than love at first sight!

Why this violin?

Music making is a combustion of elements and not all instruments have the same chemical reaction in the hands of other players. This instrument responds to my touch and I realize a higher musical self when I play on it.
This violin has a naturally rich and round timbre that projects effortlessly. The higher register remains sweet and present without becoming overly bright. The physical dimensions of the instrument are like a puzzle piece that intertwines with my hands and I feel very comfortable playing this violin.
The cost of a professional violin varies on a wide spectrum and to find one of this quality at such a price is a challenge. I have played many instruments that have cost more than triple but did not speak as well in my hands.

How much does the violin cost?

The violin costs $15,000 dollars. In order to raise this amount of money, I have to raise $17,000 to compensate for the 12% fee will charge me from all the money donated.

Why is this violin so expensive?

As odd as it might sound, this violin is “inexpensive” when compared to other old professional violins. The price range of this kind of instrument varies between $15K, all the way to millions of dollars. That’s right, millions.
Not all instruments are created equally, and most violins are expensive today mainly due to the high workmanship skills possessed by the famous violin makers, like Stradivari, Guarneri, or Collin-Mezin, who produced violins that are one-of-a-kind.
The quality of the materials used to make the antique violins does determine the price of the violins too. If you do an online search of expensive violins, you will notice that the famous Stradivarius violins were made in the period between 1700 and 1725. Many termed this Stradivari's 'golden period'. Numerous experts discussed that the violins made during that period were considered the best due to the presence of a special quality of wood, which only existed during that period.
Other than the wood used during the golden period of Stradivari, other top quality woods were used for many other antique violins, and which also determine the sound and tone quality produced by them. Generally, the slower growing and higher altitude varieties of wood have more clarity and depth, a better “balance” of sound. Of course, these select tone-woods are more rare, and thus more expensive. The price of the violin, besides the quality of materials and the quality of workmanship, are also estimated accordingly to the way the violin sounds. People use descriptive terms such as “Sweet”, “Dry”, “Warm”, “Bright”, “Clear”, and “Muddy” as some of the descriptions of sound produced. A “Bright” violin may be a little harsh under the ear, but carry very well and be easy to hear when playing with other musicians. A “Warm” violin may be satisfying to play solo, a “clear” violin might be good for playing in an ensemble.
Yet another reason is the Supply and Demand. There are few old violins that survived history, and they are no longer being made. Simple economics dictates that, when there is a demand but little supply, value increases. Another thing to consider is that violins are also a piece of art. Violin Makers can certainly be compared to painters, sculptures, and other artists, while the Mona Lisa can be easily compared to one of the top Stradivari violins.
The historic value of these instruments also contributes for the total estimated price of the violins. While the violin itself can cost millions, there are violin bows that command tens of thousands of dollars too.

Why can the Guri Project not help you buy the violin?

The incarnation of the Guri Project that gave me my passion for the violin and funded my undergraduate education and artist diploma no longer exists in the same capacity. Today the program is known as “Reference Groups” (Grupos de Referência) where exemplarily students receive a small monthly scholarship towards their studies. The budget of the current project is based on private donations and government funding, and in my case, the project could not validate partitioning their resources to this instrument.

Why can you not work during summer time to raise the money? What about loans?

As an international student I am not allowed to legally work in the country nor take out student loans. Under these conditions, private loans are also challenging to acquire as I have already made several attempts.

Why investing on me?

I believe I have a truly unique story that does not mold to the young child receiving private lessons under the watchful eye of their parents. While in Brazil there were many struggles to keep music in my life. I have carried my personal work ethic with me to over a dozen countries, where if I worked hard, ends would meet.
I often feel a pressure against time, where many of my peers have been performing on professional instruments for as long as I have been studying the violin.
I envision great things for my career, it is my dream to be among the highest level of violin performers, performing as a solo recitalist and delivering my music to as many people as I can reach through recordings and live performances. I also plan to sow all the benefits of learning an instrument with society by contributing to the whole community, sharing music and my love for the instrument.

Why is your old violin not good enough?

I currently own a copy of a Jacob Stainer, which I purchased in Bulgaria with the help of the Guri Project. The violin served me well for the beggining of my undergraduate education. Unfortunately, the violin’s limitations began to impede my technical and musical progress by the end of my Bachelor’s degree. For the entire duration of my artist’s diploma, I performed on a violin graciously loaned by my former teacher, Andres Cardenes. When I arrived in Louisville, I had to leave my teacher’s violin in Pittsburgh. While pursing my Master’s, the limitations of my own instrument became more obvious. Some of the challenges include a lack of projection, wolf pitches on the G string, a lack of clarity in the higher register, and a lack of balance between the 4 strings. I was delighted that all of these challenges were not present when I first played the Collin-Mezzin.

Would small donations like $5 still help?

Yes! Every little bit helps!

Why do you have 2 websites?

Most simply, the Brazilian website (kickante) that I am also using was set up to help facilitate the donation process with the conversion of currency. Also, the Kickante campaign does not require a credit card in order to make donations which allows the campaign to reach a wider audience.

When can I expect my rewards?

You can expect your rewards no later than a month of your donation. The only exceptions apply to the CD project and Composer Collaboration Rewards. 


This video was made with the contribution of the Guri Project, São Paulo - Brazil. Special thanks to Michael Kagan, Helen Valadares, Alessandra Costa, Isabela Fernandes, Vinicius Nakamura, Tim Hutchens, and many friends for helping me put this campaign together.

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Anna Murakawa 
Louisville, KY
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