For many in California, the “Safer at Home” order has been a time to press pause and evaluate one’s life and commitments. For Patty and Don Range, parents of Poly faculty member Cheryl Scheidemantle and grandparents of alums Sara ’13, Kaela ’15, and Luke ’17, this period has brought about creativity and joy as they worked to restore Poly’s collection of stringed instruments.
Cheryl, Lower School Instrumental Music instructor, shared that some of Poly’s instruments have been around longer than her 30-year tenure at the school—many that are sorely in need of restoration. After years of use from Poly students, many of the stringed instruments, including violins, violas, and cellos and their protective cases, required some TLC. Though Patty and Don have no professional experience as “luthiers”—a craftsperson who makes and repairs stringed instruments—Cheryl said the two were well-equipped to handle the restoration.
“You have to know my parents—they are experts at fixing pretty much everything,” said Cheryl. “Between the two of them, my parents can do just about anything, from making a treehouse, to sewing a t-shirt quilt, to repairing sprinklers, to repairing and restaining furniture, to building desks, and to gluing broken items. My dad must have 47 different kinds of glue.”
For the instrument cases that required glue, Don experimented on a piece of fabric with 10 different combinations of glues and patching fabric, carefully labeling each one to find the best. Cheryl says his workshop is unlike anything else. A former engineer, Don has collected several generations’ worth of tools and supplies to aid in any project. Patty has a lifetime of working on restorations and repairs. She has refinished many furniture items, painted houses, and figured out how to get impossible stains out of you-name-it.
Together, Don and Patty make the perfect team to tackle instrument repair and restoration.
“The project benefited us by helping us learn some new skills and fine tune some old skills,” said Don. “We enjoyed being able to apply what talents we could muster to make a quick and visible improvement in the quality of the violins, violas, and cellos that many students will be using in their Poly music education. We derived considerable satisfaction in completing this challenging project, which we think ended well.”
As far as the school year ahead, Cheryl is excited to welcome Lower School students back to music instruction. Students will be fitted to the restored instruments and then dive into Zoom classes, home practice, and special projects. Cheryl shared that there are many resources to support remote learning in music, and she has spent the summer researching how to create a great experience for students.
“The physicality and immediacy of studying an instrument is so refreshing in this time when a great deal of learning is taking place in front of a computer screen,” said Cheryl. “The beauty of playing an instrument is that students actually get to touch, feel, and play it!”
The experience of music instruction will be that much more meaningful as the students will touch, feel, and play instruments that have been lovingly restored by the careful hands of Cheryl’s parents.