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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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After decades of silence, violin makes music again

Former instructor's old violin makes music again, in ninth-grader's hands.

By Tanner Kent, Free Press Staff Writer [published in The Free Press, Mankato, MN, 4/20/2011]

For more than five decades, former electrical engineering instructor Paul Lindfors’ violin never made a sound.

Once a treasure of his youth, the violin became little more than a showpiece when Lindfors gave up music to pursue athletic glory. Trading his bow for a basketball, Lindfors left the instrument in storage and forgot about it.

But Lindfors felt there was something amiss, perhaps even depressing, about an instrument unused. So one day last year, after reading an article about Classical MPR’s instrument recycling program in The Free Press, Lindfors took the venerable old violin off the shelf.

Ly Nguyen and Paul Lindfors with violinNow the violin has found its way into hands of Mankato East ninth-grader Ly Nguyen.

The goal of the program is to recycle used instruments and provide them to cash-strapped school music programs. In Nguyen’s case, she had outgrown the youth-size violin she was using previously but wasn’t sure how to procure a new one.

Dave Urness, orchestra director at East, took Lindfors’ violin and made repairs. He fixed the fingerboard, added new strings and polished it.

Slowly, the violin was resurrected.

When Lindfors and Nguyen met for the first time on Monday, an MPR film crew was there to document the meeting. To Lindfors’ delight, Nguyen played the instrument and also began resurrecting the music lost to decades of silence.

Urness said East has six or seven violins, but “we are rapidly running out of money and instruments.” With the districtwide rise of students on the free- and reduced-price lunch program (typically an indicator of community poverty levels), Urness said more students are needing help getting instruments.

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