Tech Profile: Tom May

Tom May

Stringed Instrument Repair Coordinator/Technician


Start Date: July 15, 1985

Training or Education:
Bachelor of Science in Music (Voice) and Stringed Instrument Technology: Indiana University 1985. Further repair training: Peter Horn, 1998; Bow making: University of New Hampshire Summer Institute, 2004.

Where are you from originally?
I was born in Columbus, Indiana. My family moved to Odessa, Texas when I was one year old. We lived there until my ninth grade year, at which time we moved to Corsicana, Texas for two years (freshman and sophomore years of high school). My junior year was spent back in Columbus, Indiana; and I finished off my senior year in North Vernon, Indiana. Indiana University happened after four years playing with real Tonka trucks in a crushed stone quarry in Jennings county, Indiana. IU was fun and interesting as a 21 year old freshman. Happily, the string technology degree program was there for me to begin a lifeís work. At the present time, I am grudgingly growing up in Noblesville Indiana with my wife and watching my three kids surpass my understanding of the world in their various college endeavors.

What instruments do you play?
I play violin, viola, and cello: minimally. Stringed bass and guitar: preferably. I can play the piano the way I want to--not necessarily how classically trained pianists would choose to play, but it pleases me and suits my purpose. I still sing with gusto, and the ukelele is still just fun. Other instruments perhaps...I just havenít had the opportunity to try yet.

What groups do/did you play with?
The Indianapolis Symphonic Choir, Edyvean Theater pit orchestra, Carmel Symphony, Elizaville Baptist Church orchestra and handbell choir, Noblesville Methodist Church Community theater and pit orchestra, Tipton Community theater.

What do you enjoy most about being a technician?
Repairing the violin family instruments. It is still a challenging and fullfilling vocation.

What is the most unusual repair youíve had to deal with?
Restoring two specific violins: one, which was sound fortified with rattlesnake rattles, and the second, on which the back, neck, and ribs were carved from a single solid piece of maple.

What is your most memorable musical experience?
The most memorable was a one month rehearsal and performance of Handelís Messiah with the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir and The Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Robert Porco from Indiana University. The second most memorable is the season spent with the Carmel Symphony.

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