Rare violin donated to Music4Life for use by student in Edmonds School District

The Norma Sleeper
Norma Sleeper (Photo courtesy of Music4Life)

A rare violin appraised at $11,500 has been given to Music4Life, the non-profit that provides musical instruments to participating schools for students in need.

The donor is a Bainbridge Island pilot. The instrument has been placed with Edmonds Public Schools.

United Airlines pilot Bill Sleeper, not an instrumentalist himself, inherited the John Boder copy of an Italian-made 1908 Stephano Scarampella 4/4 (full size) violin from the estate of his late mother, Norma Sleeper. “Mom played this violin in the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, where she was ‘first chair,’ and in various other ensembles for many years. She just treasured that violin.”

Bill took the instrument to internationally-known Queen Anne luthier (string instrument restorer) Rafael Carrabba to get it fixed. “When it was done, Bill asked me who he could donate it to,” Carrabba says. “I explained what Music4Life does. He immediately said “That’s it! That’s where she would want it to go.’”

Music4Life ( www.Music4Life.org ) acquires “lovingly used” musical instruments from adults who no longer need them, gets them repaired and then provides them to participating public school districts for use by students in need. Besides the Edmonds School District, Music4Life also operates programs supporting Seattle, Highline, Mukilteo and Shoreline Public Schools. The program acquires used instruments from adults who understand that their highest and best use is to put them back into play. With adequate resources, Music4Life also buys new musical instruments for school districts.

“Most of the instruments that Music4Life gets are not nearly this expensive,” says David Endicott, President/CEO. “We are grateful for all of them because most can be repaired and start some student on the road to participation in instrumental music that lasts a lifetime.

“Sometimes we get an exceptional instrument like this. For instance, Chuck and Susan Armstrong, former president of the Seattle Mariners, gave us a ¾ string bass this past summer. After repairs at Hammond Ashley Violins in Issaquah, it’s now being played by a student in Global Connections High School in the Highline school district,” Endicott says. “We’ve also received trumpets, a bass clarinet, flutes, trombones and other expensive or rare instruments.”

The “Norma Sleeper Violin” will soon be put to use by a talented upperclassman in Edmonds Public Schools. Music4Life recognizes that, given the state of the national economy, there still are a lot of students in need who would not be able to participate unless provided a playable musical instrument.


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