Carleen Maley Hutchins
Hutchins's teaching of violin-making has been another important part of her career.
Saunders congratulated her on securing her first pupil in a letter of March 9, 1953, and her
instructional work continued until the late 1980s. She dates her most active work as a teacher from
the late 1960s when three or four persons started to work with her, and she has taught as many as
ten students at a time. She taught one or two weekends per month, giving students "hands on"
instruction in violin making and tuning of free violin plates. In addition to teaching the basic skills
she learned from Berger and Sacconi, she encouraged her students to learn other methods like those
taught by German and French masters. A major part of her teaching has been the method she
developed of plate tuning with Chladni patterns, a technique that is now in use by violin makers
throughout the world. An noteworthy number of her students are scientists and engineers, a tribute
to her scientific work. Her fifty or more students have included the following persons (in
In order to further the cause of educating luthiers in the United States, Hutchins helped
found a summer school of violin-making at the University of New Hampshire in 1975. Among the
persons assisting with its organization was Harry Hall, professor of physics at the university and a
former student of Saunders at Harvard. The extension division approached Karl Roy of the
Mittenwald school to be head teacher, and he has returned each summer. Hutchins has sometimes
taught her method of plate-tuning at the school, but is no longer associated with it. She has sent a
number of her students to the school.
- Alan Carruth, a luthier who lives near Boston, repairing guitars and making arch-top
guitars. In Montclair Carruth worked on some of Hutchins's large-pattern violas.
- Joseph Curtin and Greg Alf came to Hutchins as finished makers in the mid-1980s to
learn more about her techniques of plate-tuning and mode-matching. They worked in Cremona and
now have a shop in Ann Arbor where they are selling copies of Ruggiero Ricci's Guarneri del
- Thomas King was an economist in Washington, DC who became interested in violin-
making and was a long-time Hutchins student. He has remained active in the CAS, currently
serving as an associate editor of the Journal.
- Thomas Knatt studied with Hutchins for about fifteen years and today maintains a shop
in Concord, Massachusetts. He works mostly as a guitar-maker and has written articles on the
acoustics of the guitar for the CAS Journal.
- Diana Gannett, who was for several years professor of string bass at the Yale School of
Music and the Eastern Music Festival in North Carolina and now at the University of Iowa, studied
with Hutchins for several years and at one time helped to take care of the octet instruments at Yale.
- Richard Menzel, formerly research director at Lockheed Electronics, studied with
Hutchins and now has a violin shop in Livingston, New Jersey. Menzel's care for exact
measurement and keen eye for detail has made him a successful string repairman. He also built
Hutchins several precision tools to aid in her work. Kevin Jackson, another Hutchins student,
works in Menzel's shop.
- Robert M. Meyer, a retired engineer who worked at Pratt-Whitney in Hartford, studied
with. Hutchins and has a repair shop in Connecticut where he works on instruments from Yale and
the Hartt School of Music. The Hutchins family stops at his house on their way to New
Hampshire, and Meyer is active in the CAS, serving currently as a trustee.
- Jeffrey Ovington is a viola-maker working in New York state who came to Hutchins as a
finished maker who wanted to learn plate-tuning.
- Deena and Robert Spear are makers in Maryland who have worked extensively with
Hutchins for about twenty years. Hutchins describes Deena Spear as a fine intuitive maker who
has made some interesting discoveries. She has shown an interest in bringing the work of the CAS
to the violin-makers, as may be seen in her article "Achieving an air/body coupling in violins,
violas, and cellos: A practical guide for the violin maker" published in the May 1987 issue of the
CAS Journal.[FN 123]
- Edward Wall, formerly a professor of physics at Salem University in Massachusetts,
studied with Hutchins for fifteen years and now has a violin shop in New Hampshire. He has been
active in the CAS, serving as trustee, associate editor and translator of German articles for the
Hutchins's lecture tours have also been part of her work in education. An especially
eventful tour took place in the People's Republic of China in 1982. The Chinese were then trying to
develop their violin-making industry (now a lucrative business), and the Ministry of Culture
brought her there for six weeks. She gave lecture/demonstrations in Beijing, Shanghai, and
Guangchow, and also did lectures at the Chinese University in Hong Kong on the same trip. While
in China she was approached by a gentleman asking why she was now reporting that Mode 5 on
the free violin plates should be at the same frequency in top and backs, when earlier she had written
that they should be a tone apart. His latest information, however, dated from before the Cultural
Revolution when Hutchins was saying that. He held in his hands the one copy left of a book on the
violin he had written before the Cultural Revolution.
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