Zak MoenAnn Arbor, Michigan
Zak joined Violinist.com on Feb 14, 2009
Personal website: http://www.moenviolins.com
As with many violinmakers, my relationship with the violin runs deep. I started playing the violin at age three through the Suzuki program – on a Cracker Jack box, covered with brown paper, with a ruler for a neck and a pencil for the bow.
I continued to play the violin seriously through high school. Once I started college, however, the violin took a back seat to academics. After graduating from college with honors, I attended law school in Chicago, where I graduated fifth in my class of over 150 students, was elected managing editor of the law review, and won a state moot court competition. After law school, I accepted an associate position with a large and prestigious Chicago-based law firm, were I practiced law for several years.
Although I enjoyed the intellectual challenge of practicing law, I felt that something was missing from my life and ultimately realized that it was the violin. Of course, having not played the violin seriously for over 10 years at that point, my ability to build a career as a violinist was extremely limited (although I could make the argument that my ability to do this was always limited anyway). Nonetheless, I recalled the luthier’s workshops that I frequented as a teenager and my fascination with the instruments in various stages of repair, restoration, and construction. I decided right then and there to build my own violin. I began to read books on the violin and constructed my first two violins on my own in my home shop before deciding to leave my full time law job to seek out formal training as a violinmaker.
I was fortunate to receive formal training as an apprentice to prominent violinmaker Gregg Alf. I chronicled my experiences as an apprentice on a widely read blog titled “Diary of an Apprentice Violinmaker,” which received approximately 60,000 visits during that period (and which has been imported to this website’s blog for posterity). I have also been fortunate to attend numerous other training and industry events, including the violin acoustics workshop at Oberlin College, numerous conventions of the Violin Society of America, and Mondomusica New York.
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