Wayne Barak, my first violin maker passed a few weeks ago, I received the news via my teacher while we were at a lesson…
I remembered my first visit when I went to purchase my first "real" violin and I nervously wandered in, armed with my savings and a box of donuts. (I had called earlier and got chatting, he had laughed and said they were super busy but I could pop in early if I brought breakfast)
Not sure what I would find, I just wanted a real violin, I could hear someone playing a cello upstairs. Wayne was super nice and chatty, he gave me a tour of the workshop, which was amazing! It was just him and his son, Nick, who had been playing the cello, I put their coffee pot on, we shared the box of donuts.
We eventually ended up sitting in the air conditioned violin room, surrounded by instruments that I realized were not in my budget, and I will probably never be able to afford, at least in this lifetime! He calmly told me to play whatever I wanted.
I stared at the line-up of bows, already rosined and just waiting for me to select, there were so many! I reached for one of the violins and then I sat there frozen. The only tune I can remember is twinkle - I can’t play twinkle on a violin that costs more than my car! They will hear me, oh gosh what the heck, I have no music book, not that I could really fumble through much, apart from a few basic scales, maybe sad violin or lovers waltz, but I can’t even remember the first notes, I am so embarrassed...I seriously don't think I am ready for a new violin, and I'm so out of my comfort zone.
I am still sitting there frozen when he comes back in. He grabs a violin, sits down and starts playing it like a cello, between his knees, it sounds amazing, I am stunned.
I hear a familiar voice downstairs, my husband! He knew where I was as I’d been excitedly chatting about it for days (well actually weeks!) - honey, came to check up on you (can't imagine why!!!) find anything you like? - I am just wanting to drown my sorrows in another donut!
Wayne starts playing the violins, says it's OK that I am nervous when presented with so many, we listen in awe...they all sound wonderful, then he disappears and comes back and begins to wipe off a slightly dusty one, he plays, I and my hubby smile, thats the one!!!
He explains that it is special, one of the first ones he ever made, the fingerboard is a touch smaller than it should be (not that I could notice) it's been in the shop for years….deep, mellow, gorgeous! It had accidentally got a scratch at some time, but I didn’t care, it sounded awesome. Do you like it? - I couldn’t answer cause I was so choked up…I love it!
It cost the amount I had on me - although I know my husband lingered and probably paid some more. He gave me a bow, which I also never knew didn’t just come with the violin!…and a case….he gets a label and asks if I want my name on it. I still can't speak!
I visited from time to time, he changed my strings - I took donuts, although he had gotten on a healthy diet and into yoga and was busy, he always managed to squeeze in a donut and chat with me.
So I have a violin with a scratch on it, made by Wayne Barak, not sure if he is a well know luthier, but I'll remember how nice he was to me, and I’ll miss him.