Restored violins sent to new LCME exam centre in Ramallah

Amidst the mayhem of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the recent conflict in Palestine, there was a ray of hope in the Middle East, writes Anne Inglis.

An extraordinary new Centre was founded in Ramallah by the eminent jazz viola player Samer Rashed, and LCME has teamed up to be the official exam board. Exams in violin, piano and classical guitar were taken by nine children, and there will be many more as the Centre expands and establishes itself. All candidates showed promise and did well.

Samer, who travels from Jerusalem to Ramallah to teach, has bought a piano for the Centre. The children were sharing violins.

Some, especially siblings, were practising and performing on different sized instruments, various ages and sizes. As any string teacher will know, this is difficult for good posture, intonation, and progress.

Our digital exam partners, ISoM, got in touch with the British Violin Making Organisation, a body of leading contemporary makers, based in the UK, but with members from all over the world.

The BVMA, a centre of excellence and repository of violin making know-how, came to the rescue of Samer and his young violinists in a multi-pronged approach.

Through a pyramid of contacts, a key member of the BVMA, Colin Garrett (born in Palestine, so keen to help) put us in touch with The Soundpost, a wholesale violin distributor of stringed instruments. The operations manager there, David Henshaw, gathered up four slightly damaged violins in different sizes, their bows and their cases.

Again, through Colin’s input, one of the leading instrument makers in the country, Kai-Thomas Roth, agreed to repair these. The four instruments quickly became five as Kai took another violin into his workshop, and kindly donated it to Samer’s cause.

The five instruments were restored, the pegs made to fit and work more smoothly, the sound post positions corrected, each was given a new bridge, and Kai fitted the new strings kindly donated by Colin. The violins were returned to The Soundpost for sending to the Centre. The freight charges were paid for by ISoM.

Everyone responded quickly and efficiently, and with kindness. It is a good news story to start 2022. Thank you to everybody who helped.

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