Dear Paul and Wim,
here are my "ïmpressions"about the two weeks in Havanna.
After meeting Wim on the airport and flying to Havanna we where received
nicely by Magali and her Family, we had a sunday of rest, where we could
to know better as well Havanna as each other and so we started working
curiosly on monday.
About ten customers where waiting for us there, and the apprentices,
turned out after a few minutes as a big help receiving and interpreting
customers. On tuesday and wendnesday we had quite an amount of people
waiting for us again, so from thursday, when we slowly had gotten used
cuban persistance, we did not receive any more work and could concentrate
more on doing the work and teaching the apprentices than the days beofre.
Working with Wim was good, we could coordinate the work well and as
everybody had his specialties, he the basses and I the bows, we complemented
each other well.
I especially liked working with the apprentices, they where a big help
the customers and with the work they knew how to do too. We started showing
them how to open instruments and to do a set up, Andres didn't lose his
patience doing an alma over and over, Wim showed them how to make bridges
and plane fingerboards. There was a third apprentice, respectively curious,
Maickel, who was introduced to us by the directrice of the convento, I
didn't understand fully his background, he's an informatition that somehow
likes violinmaking, he's a nice guy, and came to watch us every day, in
beginning we thought it was too tiring to try to teach three persons and
all the work at the same time, but after seeing a restoration of a viola
Maickel had done at home, I thought it would be better if he saw some
and learn how to do things in a better way, than letting him go and do
well ment damage to instruments. Still - with him I sometimes had the
impression that he rather wanted to do things the fast than the good way
I have my doubts that his impression of violinmaking is realistic. Lazaro
quite quick in getting the idea of a working process, and Andres endures
the end and with both or the three of them we had a lot of fun and a very
Two weeks for me was too short, I wished I had had more time to get a
picture of the musical landscape in Havanna, to be more able to judge
instruments to repare and which not, we had quite some street- and
hotelmusicians coming for repairs, what i didn't realise in first place.
it was definitely too short to learn to understand the havanero version
spanish, ;) . A longer periode of time would have given the chance to
install fix opening ours for customers and more time to work with the
apprentices, and to do some repairs well instead of providing first-aid
I was surprised by the quality of the musicians and sad that the material
they played with was mostly of very poor quality, but all in all it was
quite enriching experience and I hope, I can go there again for a longer
We had done some restaurations for the camerata romeu and talked also
Zenaida Romeu, who said that if anybody wanted to come for a longer period,
she could try to get some sponsors as well. I'll stop working in Holland
June and will move back to Vienna and I hope I can get Thomastik to support
a longer project. As I won't have a fix employment in Vienna for the first
months, I'd be free for any project later this year.
As we couldn't accept more work after the first week, there where many
musicians asking us when the next group would come - so be prepared to
loads of musicians waiting for you in April.
We ran out of Wittners for 4/4 violin and shoulder rests for viola and
are just a few chinrests left.
There was a woman asking for a 3/4 violin, my bosses sister in law is
to Havanna next week, she'll take one or two violins and some tools with
and bring them to Lazaro and Andres. We still have some violins in Utrecht
that can go to Cuba, I'll visit a friend in Belgium in April or May and
would like to bring them to you then, Paul.
Staying with Magali and her family was a pleasure, I especially liked
creole kitchen and the platanitos we got every morning, hmmmmmm...
greetings and best wishes for april, jette