Strings Attached

Authors: Melanie Kupchynsky & Joanne Lipman
Non-fiction, memoir
Rating: 4/5

Jerry Kupchynsky, known to his students as Mr. K, is a Ukrainian survivor of World War II, but music teacher first. Fearsome-tempered and terribly demanding, many of his students were terrified of him, but he also had a kind and generous heart. Despite a troubled past and continual struggles in his family life, he never failed to give his students his best – and expected no less of them.

The book is narrated from two perspectives: those of Melanie, his daughter, and Joanne, his former student.


This book left me wishing I had a teacher like Mr. K. He seems like one of those people so often found as characters in books but rarely met in real life.

The book is peppered with anecdotes about his antics that bring him to life and make him, despite everything, rather endearing. His experiences in Ukraine were also fascinating, as well as sobering, to read about. It made his character all the richer and more admirable. It CAN be interesting to read about non-fictional people.

As a violinist, this book particularly struck a chord (pun very much intended) with me. The struggles of Mr. K’s students, the pains of the violin – I relate. So much. The next time someone remarks that the violin must be an easy instrument, I’ll just throw this book at them. Melanie and Joanne are both enthusiastic about reading and writing, too, which made me identify with this book that much more.

I’m sure Mr. K would be pleased to know that as a result of reading this book, I’ve been endeavouring to play my violin more often. Yes, his and his students’ stories were inspiring enough to actually stir me to ACTION.

So read it! I gladly recommend it to you, especially if you’re a musician and specifically, if you’re a strings player.


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