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The Yes Book Blog

A Luthier's Yes Began with No.

Jill Cooper


I never thought I wanted to own my own violin store.  The responsibility of it all was daunting.  It was enough to work for others and let them shoulder the burden of inventory and taxes and customer relations.  I just wanted to fix violins and make them playable.  That was plenty.


But I did have ideas. As a musician and a teacher, I knew what sorts of instruments were needed that weren’t being provided in the community. As a repair shop employee, I understood what kind of service would be appreciated.  I could envision creating a space that was friendly and new.  I knew I would run a violin store differently from places where I'd worked.


The main thing holding me back was that I didn’t feel I could offer everything a full service violin store does. How could I run a shop if I didn’t offer obscure repairs?  Most customers want appraisals and that was not something I was prepared to do.  What about advanced bow work?  I could only do basic work on bows.  The skills I had were good, but limited.  


 I didn't feel qualified to run a violin store because I couldn't do everything.  So I continued working where I was and kept my ideas to myself.


The moment the idea of my own violin store became real and possible was not when the finances became available or the circumstances seemed right.  It wasn’t about a moment of yes.  It was when I discovered it was within my power to say "No."


I realized that if someone came into my store and asked for a neck graft or a headplate or an appraisal, I was allowed to say, "No, I'm sorry, we don't do that." No was okay. When it hit me that I didn't have to do everything, that what I did have to offer could be enough, my world opened up. It was okay to just do what I do. By having the freedom to say “no” to some things, I could say “yes” to so much more.


Now I run my own store with my husband and I couldn’t ask for anything better. It's wonderful to have space to do what interests me and be able to offer a service I am proud of with nobody to limit my vision.  This freedom now extends to my life beyond work.  I’m a better parent for not feeling I must do everything.  I'm not drowning in yes at the expense of enough.


Today my world is full of yes, because I no longer feel I must apologize for no.


 By Korinthia Klein


Author Bio:

Korinthia Klein is a writer, luthier, and musician living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Mother of three and married to a soldier, she has had her work published and broadcast for the NPR project This I Believe: On Love. She is a regular contributor to the show Lake Effect, was an essayist and personal blogger on the parenting site, and in 2013 published her first novel, Almost There. Korinthia performs locally on viola and mandola. She owns and operates Korinthian Violins alongside her husband and will happily solve your Rubik's Cube™ if you haven't rearranged the stickers. You can follow her life and writing on her current blog “Korinthia's Quiet Corner.” Learn more:, and


 Essay Edited by Melinda Gates,