Klingenthal (dpa / sn) – Tropical wood-free guitars, lead-free trumpets: The Musikwinkel from Vogtland hopes to be able to manufacture instruments without “material problems” in the future. 14 projects are currently dealing with the question of how to make instrument making sustainable, explains Erik Lenk of the Klingenthal Violin Institute. Because young skilled workers are lacking in the craft, traditionally used materials and new environmental aspects are of concern.

The “I-Ma-Tech” alliance, active for two years and funded to more than four million euros by federal funds, coordinates ideas and projects in progress. “We have brought together important players in Saxony violin making and are now holding an interim review,” adds Lenk. So far, most of the money has been spent on finding innovative materials.

By participating in the federal program “WIR! – Change through innovation in the region ”, in addition to previous funding, the same amount could be expected from 2022, adds Lenk, employee of the institute which coordinates the various“ I-Ma-Tech ”stages. “We want to further advance the development of this important branch of industry in a rural area.” Further research is needed.

At TU Dresden – alliance partner of “I-Ma-Tech” – research is currently being carried out on a replacement of endangered tropical woods which are traditionally used for wind instruments. And at TU Freiberg, the search for alternatives for luthiers is underway. Until now, they had to rely on materials like lead or nickel, which today are viewed critically.

The Institut für Musikinstrumentenbau (IfM) – managed by an association – then performs acoustic measurements of the materials sought. The IfM enjoys the status of affiliated institute of the Technical University of Dresden. The eight employees are legally independent, but work closely with the university in the state capital.

The results of I-Ma-Tech’s research should later benefit the entire industry, says Kerstin Voigt as co-founder and initiator. Because the Corona crisis has exacerbated the shortage of skilled workers among instrument makers in the rural area. “There are even fewer candidates, job interviews and internships are overflowing,” adds Voigt as managing director of Jürgen Voigt – masterclass for brass in Markneukirchen.

This is why the individual projects of “I-Ma-Tech” rely on the latest methods in the field of neural sciences, according to Lenk. At the Zwickau University of Applied Sciences, research is being carried out on marketing videos with findings on the subject of eye tracking in order to attract specialists. It first looks at what advertisers are paying attention to. Virtual student internships are also in preparation. “More and more alliance partners are now supporting us,” adds Lenk. More recently, chambers of trades, tourist associations and other research institutions have been added.

The industry suffers from a persistent shortage of orders, adds Voigt. The concerts were canceled or took place in a lighter form. Few musicians would buy a new, high-quality instrument in such a situation. “As they have played less in recent months, we have fewer repairs.” Nevertheless, none of Musikwinkel’s 130 or so workshops with around 2,500 employees have had to give up in recent months.