The Beauty of Music

It's More than Just Sound

Article by Linda Ditch

Photography by Linda Ditch and Provided by Beautiful Music Violin Shop

Originally published in Lawrence City Lifestyle

The beauty of music comes from more than just the notes. Instruments have an artistic appeal that makes walking into a music shop like entering an art gallery. The lines, shapes, and colors make these musical pieces lovely to look at, touch and play.

Step into Beautiful Music Violin Shop, and you understand the name. On the walls are numerous violins displayed like works of art. The store's artisans, known as luthiers, are renowned for their restorative work, tonal setups, and bow repair and re-hair services. They bring back to life not only violins but also violas, cellos, and basses.

Owner James Hanson (J.J. to his friends) stumbled into violin repair. He started out learning to build and repair guitars. Afterward, he decided to try the violin program and fell in love with the instrument.

"I wasn't a violin player at all," Hanson says. "I was just a lover of instruments and intrigued by instrument making…. I consider the violin to be one of the most honest instruments. It will tell you when you're doing something wrong. It's a very difficult instrument to play, but once you learn how to play it, it is the most freeing. It's tucked between your chin and shoulder, almost on your throat, vibrating on your chin. It's almost like a direct musical connection to your soul."

At Supersonic Music, owner Derek Sharp makes stunning drums under his Tree House Custom Drums label. His styles range from rock and pop glitter to world drums' warm, handmade look. His workshop is in the basement of the Supersonic Music shop in Topeka, but he sells his work in both the Lawrence and Topeka shops and online.

Sharp's drum-making career started in high school. He cleaned and repaired used drums, then sold them to make extra money. After buying Supersonic Music, a customer, who was unhappy with the slow progress of another drum maker on his custom set, gave Shape a push to start making drums from scratch.

Sharp remembers, "I spent nine months making two drum sets, taking copious notes, and trying different experiments. And I made stuff to make tools to make drums. That was in 2001, and as far as I know, he's still using the drums today."

Since then, Sharp's drums have shipped to every continent except Antarctica. They've gone to military groups, traveling Broadway musicals, universities, symphonies, rock stars, college professors, hobbyists, and high schools and middle schools.

Check out Sharp’s artistic work at and Information about Beautiful Music’s stringed instrument repair services is found at

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