A bit morbid, but...
A recent medical problem brought home the issue of mortality and while I've fully recovered I have come face-to-face with the fact that I'm mortal. While my wife and I have wills (that need to be updated) I have begun to think about what to do with my instrument.
To me it is more than just a violin, and has value that cannot be measured in money. At the same time we have no heirs (a choice we made before marriage). So there is no simple direction.
I've been inspired by the story of "Joe's Violin" and while my instrument's back-story isn't a tear-jerker, it does have a proud legacy of being a family instrument that belonged to my wife's great-grandfather who bought it in Sweden and brought it to America where it was played at family gatherings and in church for many decades. Then it languished in the attic until I found and restored it (and put way too much money into the restoration).
It's a nice violin and works well in a community orchestra. A friend says it's tone is sweet and pleasing. I still love it and someday hope that the next guardian will take good care of it despite it not having a high market value.
The day is coming when I will no longer be able to play and it will be time for the violin to go to another guardian.
I'm inviting your thoughts and suggestions. It will not be tomorrow, and hopefully not any time soon, but the day is coming and I want to be prepared.
A dear friend passed late last year. It was expected. She was a cellist and bowmaker. I asked her who should have her cello, thinking that there was a particular person who it might bring happiness to, but she didn't. The maker was a friend, so I asked if it should go back to the maker, and she said no.
What about passing it on to a relative, and keeping it in the family??
I never paid much for any of my instruments ($5,000 for one of the cellos, but that was the most by at least 300%) but they are too valuable to me to consider unloading while I'm alive. My wife and I have decided who gets what (nothing to the 3 grandchildren) but each of our 3 children will get something they have long expressed an interest in and in that vein, our son (who has been musical all his life, will get my 4 violins, 3 cellos, 2 violas and 20 bows). He is free to keep the stuff, divvy it up to the rest of the family or sell it as he wishes. He does play the violin (all the plucked instruments and keyboards and has a recording studio: https://store.cdbaby.com/Artist/JosephVictor1 ) -- and he has a new neighbor who is a retired violin-luthier and violinist, who might be helpfull to him if she outlives me.
I have a violin which was a bequest from a stranger. It’s a very nice violin and I have played it professionally for a few years now. The lady who owned it never married and had no children. She put a clause in her will that the violin was to be placed in the hands of a professional violinist. Through a chain of acquaintances, her executrix found me.
This seems like something where, given your interest in helping kids, the violin might be loaned to a student in need of something decently playable. You could find a friend to help figure out where it should go, and possibly establish a small foundation that would own the instrument and have a small amount of funding to do upkeep, insurance, etc.
I think we here tend to put far too much emphasis on the devices, as objects of possession, and a telling part of that is the first question which often comes to mind when considering one is 'how much is it worth / did it cost'?
George, first of all I'm glad you weathered the storm. We'd like to have you around here for a while yet!
My mom had several family violins. Three of them were decent 100 year old German manufactured violins. When she could not play them any more, I persuaded here to sell the violins. She had also her very first 3/4 little violin. She learned to play on that violin and years later it was my first violin too. The luthier told here it had a good sound but more sentimental than money value. I asked the luthier to restore it and asked around for people who give violin lessons to kids whose parents can't really afford it. I found such a teacher and now we keep the violin and we provide it to a really cute little girl. They only pay for insurance.
All my instruments will remain within the family. I am the 6th generation custodian of my favourite violin.
Thank you all. From your responses I now have a plan to work with one of the younger conductors in the Youth Orchestra program where my wife and I volunteer and make plans to pass along the violin to that person with the plan that it will be used by less wealthy students. I may also, in keeping with "Joe's Violin", include the back-story of the instrument.
George -- holy moly! Infections like that can be very dangerous indeed. Regrettably they are relatively common complications of surgery. Please take care of yourself. Drink plenty of water and rest and listen to well-played violin music! Your idea to include some paperwork with the instrument is great, but it could get lost. Another thing you could do is put together a simple video showing your violin to the camera, explaining its characteristic/unique features, and then speaking aloud the text of the violin's story. Once on YouTube it should be there forever -- and your voice (and image if you wish) will be linked with it forever as well.
Nothing morbid... We are just custodians and violins mysteriously find violinists. I sometimes think of all previous custodians of my violins with a sense of gratitude and compassion for their own struggles and love of music. Gently wipe the rosin after each session, wrap it into a silk scarf, carefully close the lid and say a silent prayer.
I really like Rocky’s reply. I hope long after I’m gone someone will still give my fiddle yet another voice and it will continue on after my journey here is done.