A repairman who plays…

Many luthiers are not players. Even repairman at professional violin shops in competitive musical cities do not always play the instruments they work on every day.  Though they are very skilled and talented luthiers, they cannot bring the level of knowledge and understanding necessary for the repairman and the customer to communicate effectively about a repair. A repairman that plays knows what spiccato feels like verses detache, understands how the balance point effects a bow's ability to produce a perfect sautille stroke, and how different types of horse hair feel on the string. A bow repairman who plays also understands that the bow is the breath of the instrument that makes a player’s sound personal, and is often neglected by even professional musicians.

I have played both violin and viola for over 20 years. My love of music started very early, and I was first inspired to become a musician after seeing my first performance of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Ballet as a young child. I was a diligent student, and completed my Undergraduate Degree in Viola Performance from The State University of New York, at Fredonia. After graduation, I relocated to Baltimore Maryland, where I first learned instrument repair at a small local shop that was in need of a string specialist. During my time at that shop, I completed my Master’s Degree in Viola Performance from The Peabody Conservatory of Music, at Johns Hopkins University.

I began my repair training only as a supplement to private teaching and playing, but over my five years there, I began to see that the repair and restoration work was where my true passion for music lived. Though I continued to play and gig professionally, my true calling was bow repair, which led me to become a full time bow repairman for The Potter Violin Company in Bethesda Maryland, just minutes from Washington D.C. There, I worked under some very talented luthiers who helped to hone my skills with bow work. At this shop, I gained experience working on some of the greatest bows made by famous makers such as Hill, Tubbs, and Sartory. In my time at this shop, I had the privilege of repairing and restoring bows for players from the prestigious National Symphony, Annapolis Symphony, and the top music conservatories in the nation.

I then became the sole bow repairman for The Baroque Violin Shop in Cincinnati Ohio. At this shop, I learned much about the business end of repair work and gained valuable experience in customer service. While in Cincinnati, I began to realize that my dream of one day running my own bow repair shop was one that I was able to achieve through my ambition and work ethic. 

All of my years of playing solo, chamber, and orchestral repertoire gave me a deep understanding of how important a bow is to the sound that a player creates. Experience gained in playing from Suzuki Book 1 all the way up to performing Strauss’s Don Juan has given me the knowledge to understand what a player needs and I am able to communicate with them to ensure they get the response and tone that their playing demands. From beginners playing one octave scales to musicians earning their living by playing in an orchestra, I believe every musician deserves to produce the sound they want.    

I receive shipments of repairs from The Potter Violin Company in Bethesda Maryland, Day Violins in Northern Virginia, and The Baroque Violin Shop in Cincinnati Ohio. I also rehair bows for the Tetra String Quartet in Phoenix Arizona, and visit my undergrad often to service the bows of the students there. 

Local or far, I can supply the repair work you need. I live in Northwestern Pennsylvania near my hometown and family, with my fiancé, our dog, and two cats. Fiona is the black cat who gave inspiration to the name of my business, and never purrs more than when a string instrument is being played.

-- Katie Ferrie