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André Lavoie

André Lavoye

Dedicated to his craft and the next generation of makers.

André Lavoye developed an early interest in science and aeronautics before beginning his career as a luthier in Montréal in 1980. Indeed, science, music, and making things have always been passions for André. He played the guitar and other instruments as a youngster, and made his first kayak at age 15. He got his foot in the door of violin making when he looked up “luthier” in a phone book, found the biggest ad, and told them when he visited: “I want to learn.” After a few years there, he moved to the country at age 23 and set up a workshop. In the summers he worked as a rafting guide to support himself and the rest of the time made Baroque instruments, such as the lute and the gamba. 

A practical education 

André’s natural talents started to gain attention and he received a Canada Council for the Arts grant to pursue his training in Paris. It was a real practical education for André. When he wasn’t studying historical instruments in museums, he apprenticed at some of the best shops in the world. He learned bow making in one shop, apprenticed in fixing and restoring violins and cellos in another, and on weekends worked at a different shop making violins. “It was a big rush for me,” says André. “I made the most of my six years in Paris.” 

After stints in Hong Kong and Brussels, André returned to Canada in 1994, where he taught at Québec City’s École nationale de lutherie. He then settled in Montréal, working as a luthier and archetier for Wilder & Davis Luthiers, where he is still active. In 1999, he opened his own workshop and began producing bows, violins and violas. “Starting on a new instrument still brings me joy,” he says. “But restoration and repair work are very important to me,” André continues. “It keeps me connected to musicians, who give me the kind of feedback I need to advance my craft every day.” 

Spirit of sharing 

André says that building relationships with musicians is one of the best parts of his job. He also speaks fondly of the community of luthiers in Montréal. “We’re all friends and we all help each other out, sharing our expertise. This co-operative spirit has allowed us to make a decent life for ourselves here.” After a career spanning almost 40 years, he remains one of Québec’s most versatile artisans. 

The spirit of sharing extends to André’s experiences with teaching, whether in Québec or further afield in Cuba and Brazil, where he has trained teams of bow makers and luthiers. 

“My philosophy of teaching is that I don’t have any secrets,” he says. “You should always help your students – and your colleagues – solve technical challenges. You learn by teaching and you gain respect. ‘Never hesitate to share your knowledge’ is something I tell all my students.”