Not fiddlin' around
Alumni Brian Christianson shines in
Nashville, Tennessee. Music City, home of the Grand Ole Opry,
where you just might find Southeast Tech alum Brian Christianson on stage, playing
fiddle with the Mike Snider String Band. But you’re just as likely to find
Brian at The Fiddle House, the shop he and his wife Nicole opened in 2011.
Brian started fiddling at age eight in a
family band and won many fiddle contests across his native Minnesota. He earned
his diploma in Violin Repair at Southeast Technical in 2000.
After graduating, Brian moved to Nashville to work as a luthier.
"In the back of my mind I always knew I wanted to be in
Nashville. I wanted to play fiddle, but I didn't want to move here without a
job. As it worked out, I had a job lined up as soon as I graduated. Without my education
I wouldn't have been able to move here."
After working for nine years in another well respected violin
shop, Brian left to pursue his own interests. Today his shop is a success and
Brian is one of the most in-demand fiddle players in the Nashville area. "My
work life is about 60% The Fiddle House and 40% performing. I think I enjoy
playing music more because I don’t have to make a living at it. As much as I
love playing it would be more of a struggle worrying about where the next
paycheck is coming from."
The Fiddle House is not only a repair shop with violins and
bows for sale; it’s also a concert space and a place for jam sessions. Brian
says, "One of the best things about owning The Fiddle House -- I get to meet a lot of great
artists and play music with them!"
Lessons from Southeast Technical
Brian says the one of the most important abilities gained at
Southeast Technical is being able to tell when something is not perfect and
being able to acknowledge it. "I would get upset if I took something to Lisbeth
(Lisbeth Nelson Butler, violin program instructor) and she would say it wasn't
good enough. I just couldn't see it! Eventually I learned how to recognize what 'incorrect' looks like. One day it just clicked … suddenly I could see what she
was showing me."
What advice would he give to a student who is in the Violin
Repair program now? "You have to know how to sharpen your tools. You can’t get a
good result with something that’s not flat and true and square. If it doesn't
shave hair off my arm, then I’m not happy with it."
Brian adds, "Don’t look at anything that you do as 'good
enough' -- you have to do
the very best as you can. Sometimes people think they can do a rough job and
fix it later, but it’s really better to just start over and do it right."
View an interview with Brian on YouTube
Visit The Fiddle House's Channel on YouTube