Hutchins's teaching of violin-making has been
another important part of her career. Saunders congratulated her
on securing her first pupil in a letter of March 9, 1953, and
her instructional work continued until the late 1980s. She dates
her most active work as a teacher from the late 1960s when three
or four persons started to work with her, and she has taught as
many as ten students at a time. She taught one or two weekends
per month, giving students "hands on" instruction in
violin making and tuning of free violin plates. In addition to
teaching the basic skills she learned from Berger and Sacconi,
she encouraged her students to learn other methods like those
taught by German and French masters. A major part of her teaching
has been the method she developed of plate tuning with Chladni
patterns, a technique that is now in use by violin makers throughout
the world. An noteworthy number of her students are scientists
and engineers, a tribute to her scientific work. Her fifty or
more students have included the following persons (in alphabetical
|• Alan Carruth, a luthier who
lives near Boston, repairing guitars and making arch-top
guitars. In Montclair Carruth worked on some of Hutchins's
• Joseph Curtin and Greg Alf came to Hutchins as finished
makers in the mid-1980s to learn more about her techniques
of plate-tuning and mode-matching. They worked in Cremona
and now have a shop in Ann Arbor where they are selling
copies of Ruggiero Ricci's Guarneri del Gesu.
• Thomas King was an economist in Washington, DC who
became interested in violin-making and was a long-time Hutchins
student. He has remained active in the CAS, currently serving
as an associate editor of the Journal.
• Thomas Knatt studied with Hutchins for about fifteen
years and today maintains a shop in Concord, Massachusetts.
He works mostly as a guitar-maker and has written articles
on the acoustics of the guitar for the CAS Journal.
• Diana Gannett, who was for several years professor
of string bass at the Yale School of Music and the Eastern
Music Festival in North Carolina and now at the University
of Iowa, studied with Hutchins for several years and at
one time helped to take care of the octet instruments at
• Richard Menzel, formerly research director at Lockheed
Electronics, studied with Hutchins and now has a violin
shop in Livingston, New Jersey. Menzel's care for exact
measurement and keen eye for detail has made him a successful
string repairman. He also built Hutchins several precision
tools to aid in her work. Kevin Jackson, another Hutchins
student, works in Menzel's shop.
• Robert M. Meyer, a retired engineer who worked at
Pratt-Whitney in Hartford, studied with. Hutchins and has
a repair shop in Connecticut where he works on instruments
from Yale and the Hartt School of Music. The Hutchins family
stops at his house on their way to New Hampshire, and Meyer
is active in the CAS, serving currently as a trustee.
• Jeffrey Ovington is a viola-maker working in New
York state who came to Hutchins as a finished maker who
wanted to learn plate-tuning.
• Deena and Robert Spear are makers in Maryland who
have worked extensively with Hutchins for about twenty years.
Hutchins describes Deena Spear as a fine intuitive maker
who has made some interesting discoveries. She has shown
an interest in bringing the work of the CAS to the violin-makers,
as may be seen in her article "Achieving an air/body
coupling in violins, violas, and cellos: A practical guide
for the violin maker" published in the May 1987 issue
of the CAS Journal.[FN
• Edward Wall, formerly a professor of physics at
Salem University in Massachusetts, studied with Hutchins
for fifteen years and now has a violin shop in New Hampshire.
He has been active in the CAS, serving as trustee, associate
editor and translator of German articles for the Journal.
In order to further the cause of educating luthiers in the United
States, Hutchins helped found a summer school of violin-making at
the University of New Hampshire in 1975. Among the persons assisting
with its organization was Harry Hall, professor of physics at the
university and a former student of Saunders at Harvard. The extension
division approached Karl Roy of the Mittenwald school to be head
teacher, and he has returned each summer. Hutchins has sometimes
taught her method of plate-tuning at the school, but is no longer
associated with it. She has sent a number of her students to the
Hutchins's lecture tours have also been part of her work in education.
An especially eventful tour took place in the People's Republic
of China in 1982. The Chinese were then trying to develop their
violin-making industry (now a lucrative business), and the Ministry
of Culture brought her there for six weeks. She gave lecture/demonstrations
in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangchow, and also did lectures at the
Chinese University in Hong Kong on the same trip. While in China
she was approached by a gentleman asking why she was now reporting
that Mode 5 on the free violin plates should be at the same frequency
in top and backs, when earlier she had written that they should
be a tone apart. His latest information, however, dated from before
the Cultural Revolution when Hutchins was saying that. He held in
his hands the one copy left of a book on the violin he had written
before the Cultural Revolution.