Juilliard violist thinks outside the box

December 14, 2012 at 09:42 PM · My name is Crista Kende and I am a Juilliard trained violist using modern technology to do something that has never been done before. I am currently crowdfunding the purchase of a fine string instrument on Indiegogo (www.indiegogo.com/violaforcrista).

Many highly trained musicians struggle to own an instrument commensurate with their skills, and the quality of an instrument can either propel an artist forward or hold them back. Some musicians are lucky enough to have foundations or private benefactors supply rare and expensive instruments. Those less fortunate are forced to take out risky loans or pour their entire savings into one costly purchase – all to secure the use of an instrument that may increase their chance of landing a prestigious job.

For more than a decade, I was one of the lucky ones. A small foundation generously provided me with a fine 19th century French viola to use during my most formative years as a young musician. However, all loans eventually come to an end and just as I received my Masters from Juilliard, I was literally left empty handed and without the instrument necessary to turn my degree into a career. I began to search for the perfect instrument, hoping to find a historic and mature viola within my price rage. I quickly learned that such a magical combination of quality and affordability is virtually nonexistent in the old instrument market. I changed course and upon the recommendation of many colleagues, began to consider contemporary violas. I eventually ended up in the shop of Guy Rabut, one of today’s top craftsmen, and decided that his violas had the sound and quality I needed to progress professionally. Even though modern violas are much more affordable than older instruments, cost remained an issue for me. Determined to find a practical way to purchase one of Guy’s violas, I was drawn to Indiegogo and the concept of crowdfunding.

Fast becoming an effective fundraising tool in the arts world, crowdfunding helps artists connect with communities of people who share their passion. I prepared a campaign on Indiegogo, and tapped into my musical skills to offer a series of “perks” (recordings, lessons and concerts) in exchange for contributions. Centuries ago, artists relied on the support of donors like the Medicis and large institutions. Today, technology allows me to create modern-day patrons, whose combined small contributions can make large projects happen. During these difficult economic times, government support of the arts has further dwindled and private individuals are the main source of funding for creative activities. Crowdfunding makes it easy for almost anyone to become a patron of the arts – for the price of a single NYC cocktail an individual can be part of a large creative project and make a difference for an artist!

I have already raised more than $12K out of my $24K goal, with just 5 days to go! I see my campaign as an opportunity to lead by example and revolutionize the way classical musicians go about purchasing fine instruments.

Replies (73)

December 14, 2012 at 10:51 PM · Guy Rabut makes wonderful instruments, I know that a few of his violas are regularly played in the New York Philharmonic!

December 14, 2012 at 10:59 PM · Yup, I totally fell in love with the fine craftsmanship that Guy puts into his instruments. They sound as good as they look! And he's amazing to deal with, very thoughtful and sincere.

December 14, 2012 at 11:04 PM · Definitely not for me, you will not get a dime from me.

December 15, 2012 at 05:12 AM · Well that certainly wasn't very friendly.

December 15, 2012 at 10:49 AM · crowd funding is getting an important tool for artists. I know people who had their first cd sponsored and "pre purchased" that way. But if one wants to start this, one needs some fan base, who will expect you to do quality work with the money and get something back.

I think its a legitimate tool in times where contemporary art and music is heavily underpayed unless you are a "superstar".

Just think about trying to collect 24000 dollar with gigs and teaching, while paying all the other usual expenses. It will take about 5 years and you will be too old and probably also too tired for a career by then.

I wish her good luck with the instrument.

December 15, 2012 at 02:58 PM · Its a neat idea but what bothers me (and probably others) is that my donation is not to a charity but to another person. I assume that the violin you purchase you will OWN. that means if you sell it you are now 20K richer - on the dimes of the donors.

I think this would be much more successful if the instrument became a charitable trust in itself. That is, the donee's would have the right to use it indefinitely but ultimately it would be GIVEN to another worthy player.

[I have not read the terms of the crowd-funding so applogies if this is already the case]

December 15, 2012 at 05:12 PM ·

December 15, 2012 at 05:19 PM · Nothing new here.... crowd-funding has been used by the banks for a long time!

I agree with Elise that custodian of a publicly funded instrument sounds better than the owner. Perhaps creating an instrument "bank" would attract more donors then financing your personal project only?

Lastly, there are a few great makers here in Canada, where you can get a hand made viola of an exceptional quality for way less money (close to what you have got already), in case you do not reach your $24K goal.

Good luck!

December 15, 2012 at 05:44 PM · I think this is a great idea.

However, I think it may be pitched to the wrong crowd here at v.com, as everybody here dreams of acquiring an instrument of the finest quality for themselves, and so there may be a bit of backlash or resentment.

The idea of crowdfunding an instrument is a good one. You'd be better server trying to target supporters of the arts directly somehow. Concert goers? Local classical radio stations? Have a brochure about what you are trying to do available wherever you play a gig?

Good luck!

December 15, 2012 at 06:43 PM · E-panhandling. What a great term!

I might have to start my own website. I don't know what the topic and content will be, but I guarantee it will have sad Sarah McLachlan music in the background. "In the armmmms of an angel......"

December 15, 2012 at 07:00 PM · I think this is a very creative way to go about this but I think posting it on here is a bad idea. The reason being is that I think that many of us don't want to see violinist turn into a board where people are trying to crowd-fund instruments. I would also second Elise's comment. Even orchestra's buy instruments in a similar way. Multiple people put money towards and subsequently own a portion in a strad (as an example), but the orchestra uses it.

December 16, 2012 at 03:41 AM · Lyndon LOL!

Maybe thats the new 'get rich quick' scheme (if it can at all be characterized as a scheme' it that).

"Here's a box please throw all your valuable in it because I can use them better than you can."

Seems to be working for the OP...

December 16, 2012 at 10:59 AM · Thinking about it twice, it seems to be good advertisement for the maker of the viola. So maybe he tells her after she funded enough money. "hey have this for free" ;)

And about the reselling its also a threat. Thats why crowdfunding is sotwo sided. On one hand you can reach the people who trust and support you, on the other hand, they would anyways support you and its like taking money from friends.

If one crowd funds he/she should have a clear program what to do with the money. In this case including a term, what she would do with the instrument if she couldn't play anymore.

Giving out some services for donations is also part of it and a good idea she uses. But for me its also too diffuse why exactly this crowd funding method is the only way to go for her. What about a credit!? Of course I don't like banks and credits, but Money is just business and I would only take it from friends, if I could give it back in the same or double amount.

December 16, 2012 at 03:01 PM · Ms. Kende joins v-com on 12 December, and begins asking for $$ on 14 December...

I see that Mr. Manfio referred to her in 2009 as a "high-octane" player in his blog about visiting NY. Seems a great description, in its way.

December 16, 2012 at 05:06 PM · Crista is a darn good player, that's what I tried to say. I hope she will get her viola soon!!!

December 16, 2012 at 06:09 PM · elise stanley says:

"Here's a box please throw all your valuable in it because I can use them better than you can."


Works for Washington DC.

December 17, 2012 at 03:21 AM · Are there not groups of wealthy philanthropists who provide instruments for very talented musicians ?

December 17, 2012 at 06:01 AM · I think that was the situation with her instrument scholarship at Julliard.

December 18, 2012 at 03:05 PM · E-panhandling, cyber-begging...

And yes, I don't think this forum is the right place for such requests - or is it appropriate for the commercial section?

While I fully appreciate both the need for a good solid instrument...and the desire for an elite instrument I find it hard to justify the 'give me' mentality.

I know a few 'world class' musicians who manage very well without elite instruments - and who are not asking for handouts to help fund their personal dreams.

...just because you can, doesn't mean you should...

December 18, 2012 at 04:24 PM · "And yes, I don't think this forum is the right place for such requests - or is it appropriate for the commercial section?"

Especially when it's posted twice.

December 19, 2012 at 02:35 PM · I was curious about this style of promotion.

I found a YouTube video here of her and here sister playing (there's a lot more than just this one.)

I'm not a classical musician but it sounds very good to my ear.

I listened to her promo video here, she's quite articulate about her goal and has put together a well-crafted campaign (she's obviously thought about it a lot and has put a great deal of effort into it.

I don't think it's cyber-begging as someone earlier stated. She is offering different levels of "perks" in return for a donation (recordings, tours, etc.).

I have a few bucks sitting around in a Paypal account, and I currently can't think of a better way to spend it.

Best of luck, Crista.

December 19, 2012 at 05:28 PM · "I have a few bucks sitting around in a Paypal account, and I currently can't think of a better way to spend it."

You're kidding, right? You've never heard of Doctors Without Borders? That $40 or whatever could probably get a bunch of kids in SomewhereiStan immunized against polio, or fix someone's cleft palate or get mosquito nets to a village.

December 19, 2012 at 05:42 PM · Yes Scott, I do give to charity. I don't consider this a charity.

December 19, 2012 at 06:50 PM ·

December 19, 2012 at 06:52 PM · We all know how important it is to have an instrument that's good enough to suit our purposes, but you really don't need $24,000 to buy a world class instrument.. I know players in conservatories and even in top tier orchestras who play for a living on instruments costing under $10,000, sometimes even on Chinese instruments under $5,000.

December 19, 2012 at 07:52 PM · Jux - since the funding is by donations, do you not think it would be a better cause if the violin became a 'trust' rather than a personal posession?

I wish Christa would comment on this - surely she is following her own topic? Maybe this is indeed her plan. If she is going to put her own money in too (or money given to her personally) there would be nothing wrong in partial ownership of that proportion.

Indeed, if she doesn't comment I am going to be a bit uncomfortable that personal profit was a hidden intent....

December 19, 2012 at 08:14 PM · "...I think if I were to ask you guys for money, it's cyber panhandling. If a Juliard graduate does it, it's supporting the arts."

Hmm...where's the dividing line? Is a Michigan grad worthy? What about Michigan State? Ann Arbor Community College?

The question of instrument value is an interesting one, because "need" is ill-defined for any of our wants. Has she looked for a less-expensive instrument that sounds just as good? Would a $34,000 instrument actually be a better investment in the long run? What happens if she becomes dissatisfied with the $24,000 instrument in a year and stumbles upon one for $12 that outplays it? What happens to the profit?

December 19, 2012 at 08:36 PM · Elise, Scott:

Have you examined the funding model that she's implemented?

For instance, an $80 contribution will provide you with an hour of Skype Lessons - it's not a charity or a donation in my mind. Since it's primarily an exchange of goods/services for money, I don't think the trust model applies either, but I would like to hear her thoughts on it.

December 19, 2012 at 08:45 PM · I'm so happy my post spurred such a lively dialogue!

First, I apologize to anyone who believed my post here was inappropriate. I have been an observer on violinist.com for quite some time and only recently had something of value to post, which is why I just made the account last week. Believe me if you will. If not, nothing I say will change your mind so I'll leave it at that.

With my Indiegogo campaign, I did not expect or want people's charity. If you listen carefully to my campaign video, I never once use the word donate because that's absolutely not what this process is about. In fact, my whole intent was to stand completely counter to the "give me" mentality of entitlement and instead set up a mini marketplace where people could in effect pre-order my musical skills, whether in the form of a lesson, a CD, a private concert, etc. The only difference from someone paying me to be a teacher or performer in the real world is that on Indiegogo they are paying for the service before it is delivered. It's not free money by any means - I have already worked for it with the hours I have put into the campaign and will continue to work for it as I deliver perks post-campaign.

In this campaign process I have built a community of almost 200 people who feel a unique connection to me and my music because they have played an important part in advancing my career. The arts have always been something that have been nurtured by a larger community, so Indiegogo is just a high tech way to connect artists like me to music lovers who want a window into the artistic experience.

Yes, the idea of publicly owned instruments is great, and I was so lucky to have a fantastic small foundation provide me with a viola for almost 12 years. But as with everything in the arts, there are many more talented and deserving artists than there are opportunities. The top soloists will eventually find someone to hand them a Strad or Guarneri, and many others will find private patrons to help pave the way. But there are still more who need to find a practical way to purchase their own instruments and that's where I see crowdfunding stepping in to provide a great new option.

To clear up one point: Guy Rabut has been a fantastic support to me by agreeing to be a part of my video and by spending an entire day shooting footage that will go into the mini doc perk. No matter how the campaign turns out, he will not be giving me the instrument for free. I respect his work too much to ever expect such a gesture, and know that every dollar that I put into my purchase of a Rabut viola is well spent since it's supporting such a uniquely fantastic craft.

When Mr. Manfio called me a "high-octane" player a few years back, I was very proud of the label. Musically, I have never aimed to be a wimpy violist hanging out in the middle register for lack of a better place to be. And off the stage, I have always aimed to be equally "high-octane" in how I approach life as an artist and how I deal with the real practical dillemmas that the economics of today poses for instrumentalists. I hope others will follow my lead and find a way to leverage modern technology to open up new artistic possibilities.

December 19, 2012 at 08:58 PM · The previous post was "high-octane".

December 19, 2012 at 09:05 PM · p.s. From my many years at Juilliard, various music festivals, and freelancing in NYC, I know that many amazing musicians feel totally powerless and are generally dissatisfied with the state of the music world. Rightly so - artists spend decades practicing, pay for expensive degrees and then have nothing waiting for them post-graduation. Amidst all the negativity, there's relatively little action, which is what I'm trying to fix. I'm trying to promote self-help, the idea of creating ones own opportunities, and actual empowerment.

December 19, 2012 at 10:32 PM · Crista - thank you for the feedback, mush appreciated. Perhaps next time you could give that information with your post? That would kill all the needless speculation (initiated I'm afraid by me).

I still prefer the 'trust' violin model as it indicates a wish to help the next generation of violinists. But I understand a services-for-cash model too.

December 19, 2012 at 11:45 PM · Eugenia Fielding - The full verse is "Man shall not live by bread alone,but by every word that comes from the mouth of God." Matthew 4:4. I see what your getting at but that argument doesn't apply by using a half used verse.

December 20, 2012 at 06:13 AM · "...artists spend decades practicing, pay for expensive degrees and then have nothing waiting for them post-graduation..."

So first let's close down 80% of the music schools. That will help.

I'll bet the needs of the greater NY area could be served only by Juilliard grads. But Mannes? Mannhattan? SUNY? Bard? Hartt?

The main problem for classical musicians is not the lack of instruments, but the vast, vast overproduction of musicians. The opportunities have declined and may or may not return, but no one has apparently told the schools (sorry, just kidding--the schools know perfectly well).

December 20, 2012 at 10:21 AM · I am sorry to say this, but the problem in the classical music world is the lack of productivity/creativity wich isn't taught in schools. There are too little classes of composition and arranging for instrumentalists.

You can see on famous musicians, that the ability to compose and arrange made a large part of their success.

The problem really is, that also the teachers in school don't really know how to teach creativity. They give away some tools wich were used in the past, like different forms and structures of music. But if you want to write something on your own, it should be your own. Nobody engages a young student for that, its always about scales and orchestral excerpts. No wonder that the directions to go after study are limited then.

What is taught in schools is, how can I sound like everybody and not disturb the listener, conductor etc...

December 20, 2012 at 02:40 PM · I fully agree with the other poster who mentioned that it would have been nice to have the bigger picture in place right from the start. It changes the colour of the request.

However, it still doesn't change the underlying issue of needs vs. wants, and the question of whether a graduate of one school is more worthy than a graduate of another school.

I'm also not on board with the concept that musicians are somehow owed something by society or the public at large. Maybe we are overproducing musicians? The schools don't care as long as they are still making money. Perhaps classically trained musicians are just becoming obsolete in modern society - so we're back to the economics of supply and demand? Or perhaps they are just considered too elitist by the masses and there's a resulting prejudice/backlash?

My area of expertise is also not in high demand at the moment and I've had to take my lumps over the course of my career...it is what it is...I don't think anyone owes me a living.

December 20, 2012 at 03:15 PM · Well, some form of mecenat and patronage of arstists is a very old thing, Mecenas was a Roman noble that helped artists, that more than 2.000 years ago.

Many composers, musicians, sculptors, etc. had a generous patron. 80% of the Italian art would not exist without mecenat.

Mecenat can live together with charity, I think. Menuhin received a Stradivari from a patron, Misha Maisky received a cello as soon as got outside Russia. We have patrons paying for musicians study today and in the past.

I am a luthier and I know the problems of young musicians to find a good instrument that is essential to the development of their careers. They have debts from their conservatories and the market today is hard for young musicians.

Crista wants money to buy a fine contemporary viola, she is not asking for an Amati or a Gasparo da Salò.

December 20, 2012 at 03:34 PM · The difference I think, is that a patron of the arts selects who he/she choses to support (in whatever manner they opt to offer that support). In this case the artist is asking for support.

And again, we're back to needs vs. wants. The artist needs quality tools of the trade they are in. No question.

But who determines what 'level' of tool fills the need...and what level is purely want? Or even if the want is more than required?

I need a car to get to work. I could really use a better quality car as well...and a newer car...since mine is aging out and starting to cost a fortune in small repairs. But giving me a Jaguar (new or vintage) would be stupid...I'd wreck it on the gravel roads I travel on and I have no place to actually let loose and drive it to its full capacity.

December 20, 2012 at 04:42 PM · According to www.indiegogo.com/violaforcrista the goal of $24K has been reached.


Welcome to the new world of assertive young artists.

December 20, 2012 at 05:13 PM · @N.A. Mohr...actually, patrons selected artists, AND artists petitioned patrons. It worked both ways. Often a patron would volunteer to support an artist whose work pleased the patron, but equally often a poet, say, (to take it out of the realm of compositions, which is where most music patronage can be easily traced) might dedicate a long poem to several potential patrons, each of whom would be sent a copy with a dedication to him/her. Generally, the one whose contribution was biggest/first got the final published acknowledgement [we know this as scholars discover more manuscript copies, each with different dedicatory material; compared with the printed version, there's quite a lot of room for maneuvering].

Once the patronage was established, things were easier, although not necessarily more secure, and the artist still had to do a fair amount of preening and flattery.

BUT the artist had to produce before the patron could assess the artist's worth as someone to support...composition or performance came before cash. The only exceptions were children, 'supported' by receiving education, etc. and their rows may have been toughest of all--they had little choice of patron for quite a bit of their majority. Only once they were established could they risk seeking a change of patron.

It was no easier then than now, and many fine musicians 'settled' for other careers.

December 20, 2012 at 05:23 PM · Crista:

Why not flip this idea around?

Pair yourself with a viola maker, make him/her a sponsor as well. What you are marketing here is your expertise as a violist, right? So, wouldn't a viola luthier want the kind of exposure that a top notch musician would possibly bring to their studio?

You've shown your ability to get your message out to a broad audience, so perhaps the maker would sponsor you via a long term instrument loan with the payback being potential future customers that have been impressed with your playing to such a degree that they too want/need/desire a viola by so-and-so that is sponsoring you?

Depending on how you structure the deal, the maker may not even be out any money. They loan you the instrument for as long as mutually agreeable. If at some future point in time you scrape together enough dough to purchase a high zoot viola, or a competing viola luthier offers you a better deal, then the maker's viola returns to them, none the worse for wear, and perhaps even of greater value than originally worth, since this is the viola that "world famous (by that time...) violist Crista Kende played this instrument for xxxx years...", etc. Perhaps even a "work it off" arrangement-- for each year of performing with the viola (with associated exposure) a certain equity is built towards ownership of the instrument?

Why not pitch this idea to Mr. Rabut?

Personally, I'm eyeing a $400 Chinese EBay violin with which I can work on "Go Tell Aunt Rhody" as my "goal" so take my advice with a grain of salt...

December 20, 2012 at 05:27 PM · Yes Marjory. We see that all the time in artist's biographies, it is not a new thing.

Just imagine if Mozart had a good patron in his final years?

I met Crista in NYC and she is a very fine player.

December 20, 2012 at 05:35 PM · According to her video she was "literally crushed..." Will she still be able to play this new instrument or were her hands also crushed?

December 20, 2012 at 05:40 PM · Crista, you did good! I was going to contribute, but see it's finished...let us know when the bow campaign starts. Good luck with your new instrument!

December 20, 2012 at 05:59 PM · "There are too little classes of composition and arranging for instrumentalists."

Simon, I think this is a marginal thing. You can't teach people into desiring one form of entertainment over another. It's like saying "if we just teach people the rules of bowling everyone will have bowling night just like in 1972," or "if we just expose kids to big band music they'll want to listen to Lawrence Welk."

The unfortunate fact is that there are too many forms of entertainment competing for our attention. Even some formerly popular sports like golf. I grew up watching and playing tennis--it's a shadow of what it was in the 80s.

December 20, 2012 at 06:26 PM · When it comes to entertainment in general the classical music has more competition than ever (I think) today. On the other hand some institutions, like the berlin philharmonic, with their digital-concert-hall and Classical concert movies, are going sucessful with the time.

The biggest problem in Orchestras is also, that the public only desires the well known pieces, like it is in the radio. They want to hear the charts, over and over. If its not a big, important institution, the program of an orchestra must always try to please those needs, so that they have just little room to be creative anyway or they go broke.

But I wasn't talking about the perception of the listeners, but about creativity. Usually something gets popular, wich is new for the people and what is appealing to them. But what also counts is the quality and honesty of an Idea. To work on basic Ideas, to expand them and to reach an acceptable quality in presentation is something, wich isn't taught.

Most violinists I know, could not arrange a tune from the radio or write a short piece for a Encore. It is really important to have and use those skills in order to find a place in the music world. If you are just a well trained machine, you will have lots of competition, because there are many of them.

If you are the best of the best, well then you will have success over time with just playing standard repertoire, but even the best soloists try to change their image over time by playing lots of contemporary music for example.

I am pretty sure, that orchestral music will last and always in the next hundreds of years will be played, but I don't think that playing the same repertoire over and over actually helps the perception of classical music. And also there should be more in your head than an orchestral career or soloist career when you study music. Its not so one sided with the violin and there will always be new developments (like in the last years the boom of historical informed performance). Looking out for something special or new to say means being an musician or violinist to me and I hate to see so mony great instrumentalists struggle with creativity.. in music and in life!

A bit off topic here, but I really wonder about those things.

December 20, 2012 at 07:10 PM · @ marjory lange...fair enough. I was a little too general...

December 20, 2012 at 11:29 PM · Waxing tangential on the subject of schools producing too many musicians;

Is this phenomenon really so different from the 'big picture' problem *most other graduates in most other fields* are having finding a job?

A lot of my peers (both musicians and those in other fields) are having difficulty finding work that relates to their field of study. Businesses are cutting back and when they are hiring they're looking for people with degrees AND experience (and connections). That isn't most recent graduates.

I'm not complaining either, the idea that when you get your bachelor's or master's degrees a job will magically be handed to you is stupid and naive in the extreme. *that isn't how the real world works*.

My personal favorites are the ones with advanced degrees (masters, phds, etc) that are all of a sudden 'to good' to freelance, work independently, do studio work, etc.

Really, you're too educated to do the work that's available? (while living in your parent's basement eating ramen?)

You make your own opportunities, regardless of your field. That's exactly what Crista has done and she's found people to support her. Good on her, well done.

December 20, 2012 at 11:51 PM · "I'm not complaining either, the idea that when you get your bachelor's or master's degrees a job will magically be handed to you is stupid and naive in the extreme."

Not magically, but after a few candidacies there should be success... but "You make your own opportunities, regardless of your field. That's exactly what Crista has done and she's found people to support her. Good on her, well done."

Thats totally true, but I think music schools are in some aspects a little behind (maybe other schools aswell). Its important to know how to basically record something, how a concert has to be planned and advertised and how to make an good application. Also how to present yourself on stage and in rehearsals (basic psychology) could help.

Most schools are catching up but still I see too little overlapping in the technical aspect. Every Popmusic student gets to know how to arrange with cubase for example, isn't that a helpful skill for classical musicians aswell? Lessons about midi for example, wich is such a world standard technology...

December 21, 2012 at 03:24 AM · "Is this phenomenon really so different from the 'big picture' problem *most other graduates in most other fields* are having finding a job?"

Yes, it's exponentially worse. In music, the situation has been the same even before the crash, and will continue after the recovery.

December 21, 2012 at 03:28 AM ·

December 21, 2012 at 03:30 AM · This has been a fascinating lesson in marketing.

I can't help but wonder though about the fate of those who may be hugely talented as artists, but got an F in marketing.

How many paintings did Van Gogh sell during his lifetime? One?

December 21, 2012 at 03:45 AM · Congratulations on financing your new instrument!

December 21, 2012 at 03:46 AM · Jonathan Frohnen says:

According to her video she was "literally crushed..." Will she still be able to play this new instrument or were her hands also crushed.


When people misuse the word, "literally", I figuratively go insane.

December 21, 2012 at 03:49 AM · Scott Cole says:

Yes, it's exponentially worse. In music, the situation has been the same even before the crash, and will continue after the recovery.


Agreed. Hell, the workforce is absolutely brutal out there for accountants, marketers, and consultants right now, let alone artists and musicians.

December 21, 2012 at 04:04 AM · Yes, but in Australia and many other countries there is huge shortage of tradesmen : plumbers , electricians, machinists, metal workers, boilermakers, welders etc. We now have to import these people from China and the Philippines at enormous expense because we cannot train enough of our own. What does this tell us about our society and the education system ? Do we no longer value people who work with their hands ?

December 21, 2012 at 04:27 AM · Interested in how much of the money will actually go towards the viola, I did some quick calculations. I don't know the tax rates applicable to Crista so I used my own just to get a ballpark estimate.

$24,006.00 Indiegogo Campaign Total

-$720.18 Credit Card/Paypal fee @~3%

-$960.24 Indiegogo processing fee @~4%

$22,325.58 Revenue before tax

-$5,581.40 Income tax @~25%

$16,744.19 Funds available for viola purchase

-$2,176.74 Sales Tax @ 13%


$14,567.44 Max. Sticker price of new viola

Starving artists will still be hungry after fees and taxes.

December 21, 2012 at 05:52 AM · "Is this phenomenon really so different from the 'big picture' problem *most other graduates in most other fields* are having finding a job?"

Yes, it's exponentially worse. In music, the situation has been the same even before the crash, and will continue after the recovery.

Okay Scott, is the solution to the problem any different?

December 21, 2012 at 06:15 AM · From jux ta says:

$16,744.19 Funds available for viola purchase

-$2,176.74 Sales Tax @ 13%

$14,567.44 Max. Sticker price of new viola


Sales tax here in Manhattan is 8.875%, dont make it any worse than it already is!

That will leave an extra $690.69 ($15258.14).

In all serious though, given I've never bought a $25,000 violin I always assumed the tax was built into the maker's price, no?

December 21, 2012 at 02:03 PM · Generally, no. That would result in needing to quote different prices to different players, depending on where they live, the form of payment, how the transaction will be conducted, etc.

In most states, if the violin is shipped to another state via a commercial carrier, and is paid for with out-of-state funds, the maker doesn't need to charge sales tax. That doesn't mean that the buyer doesn't have an obligation to pay sales tax in their own state, but that the maker doesn't need to collect it.

It's a little like buying something on the internet, and having it shipped. You may be charged sales tax, or you may not, depending on where both you and the company are located.

December 21, 2012 at 02:40 PM · David; you're right, this is an interesting marketing question. I'm more familiar with corporate marketing...but still.

Personally though...if I don't like an ad, or the marketing of a 'product'...I won't buy.

It's been 20 years since I was offended by Yoplait Yogurt commercials...and I still refuse to buy the product. They, of course, don't care...what's one customer in the big picture? However, offend enough people and as soon as your bottom line is affected, then they'll take notice.

December 21, 2012 at 04:29 PM · "Okay Scott, is the solution to the problem any different?"

Solution? What solution?

December 21, 2012 at 08:22 PM · @ jux ta: regarding paying 25% income tax.

Yes income tax will be due on the money that is raised, but doesn't a professional musician need an instrument to play on just as a mechanic needs tools to ply his trade ? Mechanics deduct their tools as a business expense and I imagine violists do the same with their instruments, strings, repairs and adjustments, etc.

December 22, 2012 at 12:16 AM · Deductions are fine...if you actually make enough to be in a high tax bracket. If not, I suggest acquiring a couple of children. This will help your tax situation more.

December 22, 2012 at 12:38 AM · Hendrik,

It isn't that simple. Durable goods priced over a certain amount (used to be $500, not sure now) cannot be deducted all at once but must be depreciated over a reasonable (usually 10 to 20 years) time period. If the item is later sold for more than the remaining un-depreciated cost, the "profit" is then subject to income tax. In other words, if the viola is fully depreciated and then sold, the entire sale price is taxable.


Children are not usually allowable as business expenses.

December 22, 2012 at 01:07 AM · Remarkable what responses this post elicited.

I am happy to report that Crista raised the money necessary to buy her viola. Good for her.

December 22, 2012 at 06:30 AM · "Children are not usually allowable as business expenses"

What if I raise and sell them, like puppies?

December 22, 2012 at 09:48 PM · I haven't yet made up my mind as to whether I think crowd funding is a good idea or not. I do think that if we are going to start having these projects posted on violinist.com, there should be a separate place on the site for them.

December 23, 2012 at 11:38 AM · Although we've done some cool projects, like taking V-com donations to furnish an inexpensive violin outfit for a wartime soldier stationed on a Forward Operating Base, it seems like something would be lost if this site became too much about fund raising.

Also, this soldier never asked for anything (if I remember correctly), except for recommendations on what equipment might hold up best under the harsh conditions.

We (V-com members) also bought a fancy case for someone here, but she never asked for anything either, and had already been a major contributor here for a long time.

December 23, 2012 at 09:13 PM ·

Hello David,

I agree with the implications of your comments, but would add:

I feel that the recipient of the case now owes us a photo summary of the case's travels.

All the best,


December 24, 2012 at 02:33 PM · Lothar, with all due respect, I don't believe the recipient of any gift "owes" the giver anything but thanks--which she gave generously--as well as a blog with pics.

December 24, 2012 at 02:57 PM ·

Hello Marjory,

I know that I was joking, and am comforted by my assumption that you were too...

All the best,


December 26, 2012 at 02:49 PM · "Solution? What solution?"

You're right, of course, there is no solution and we are cleaving desperately to a dying art with inadequate support. Classical music is doomed and so are its musicians and audience. Oh, woe is me!

(for those of you who take everything seriously, that was sarcasm)

Come on man, what do you want to hear? :)

Orchestras are having problems, we all know this, what is/are the solution(s)? There's no definite one solution that we know will work, but it seems to me that expanding the audience via marketing and outreach helps (and education, which in this context *is* a sort of marketing). What else? We know that the current (imo, bloated, expensive, and ineffective) administrative model does not work, time for something new. Ideas? I've heard plenty, we should try some of them. It's going to be ugly and will suck in the extreme for some time, but in the end we need to alter how we and our art are supported. Very exciting stuff, but nothing will happen unless musicians take an active role. The change and growth that needs to take place will require *even more* hard work on our part. It isn't enough to have fast fingers.

As for employment, it'd be great if there was a symphony job, for those that want one, waiting for them after conservatory. That isn't how it works (for most graduates in any field). There exists an excess of musicians who desire an orchestral career for a finite number of positions. There also exists an excess of baseball players who want to play in the majors. That is the nature of the business and that's not new. If a player has their heart set on an orchestral career and they fail audition after audition of course that bites. They have two options; do something else or continue with music in another capacity (freelancing, teaching, whatever). Both carry the option of continuing to audition for orchestras, and both will be what a person works to make of them.

Insert 'recent graduate', 'job', etc. in place of the music specific terms and it works for other fields too. Magical.

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