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A Bittersweet Goodbye to The Long Island Violin Shop

David Wong - Moving On...

I left my Teaching Assistant position in the music department at Amherst College in 2009, the year after I graduated. Amherst was an enjoyable five years of learning, making friends, and discovering more about myself, but left me a little confused about what would come next. As the drive home to Long Island that I’d taken countless times came to an end, I was struck by the realization that “real life” was about to start. I had no job lined up, just the inclination to do something “music-related,” which, in the 2009 economy, was a pipe dream.


A few weeks passed and I made my routine stop at The Long Island Violin Shop for a checkup on my violin. Ever since I was a child, I’d go to the LIVS owner and luthier, Charles Rufino, for work on my instrument. On that particular day, with a lot of things on my mind and for one reason or another, thinking out loud, I asked Charles Rufino about working for him. I saw the shop as a music-related job that would allow me to learn much more about the violin and music business. With little to no experience in sales or marketing, and my only selling point being that I was a violinist, there was not much of a reason for him to hire me. Yet, somehow, Charles decided to give me a shot right then and there. 5 years later, and countless life lessons learned, it is finally time for me to say goodbye and use my experiences at The Long Island Violin Shop to move on to the next step in my life.

Assisting students with electric violins at TMEA in San Antonio.

I am incredibly thankful for my time working at the Long Island Violin Shop. Charles offered me the opportunity to learn many aspects of running a small business along with the nuances of all things violin. From the fascinating stories of his apprenticeship with legendary violinmaker Carl Becker, to the differences in appearance between a French and an Italian violin, there was rarely a dull moment. We flew across the country and met John Jordan, electric violinmaker extraordinaire at the NAMM show in Anaheim, and talked string making and the physics of sound with Fan Tao, director of Research & Development at D'Addario & Company. I became fascinated with these people behind the scenes, the creators who made my violin sing.

Trying out John Jordan's custom 9 string electric violin!  

Next month, I make the move to Columbus, OH with my fiancé who, coincidentally, I began dating after a trip up to the NYSSMA Festival in Rochester with the LIVS; she had just begun her Masters in viola at the Eastman School of Music. I will be freelancing as a violinist in Columbus with hopes to teach, perform, and do workshops at schools across the U.S. With the help of Charles and The Long Island Violin Shop, I was able to give electric violin workshops and performances at over 30 schools across Long Island this past year and develop my skills as both a violinist and a clinician. I’ll also be continuing to grow my YouTube Channel, which coincidentally also had its start when I began working at the shop. The LIVS provided the backdrop for many of my most successful early videos, and helped my channel grow to where it is now at over 23,000 subscribers and 3.7 million views.

The Great Kat stops by the LIVS

So with that, I say goodbye for now and thank my coworkers, our loyal customers, and most of all Charles Rufino, for this job and a truly wonderful 5 years. I know our paths will continue to cross in the months and years to come, and I look forward to the opportunity to stop at the LIVS booth at an orchestral convention in the not so distant future.

David Wong

After doing an electric violin workshop at South Middle School in Brentwood.

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