Dr. Dunn creates just the right tone in his handmade violins

Dr Dunn

Vi at Aventura is a community that celebrates the arts. In fact, it’s rare for a day to pass without music at The Vi, from happy hour performances courtesy of local talent in the bar to impromptu resident performances at one of the two community pianos. So, when new residents Dr. and Mrs. Dunn began their search for a Life Plan Community in the greater Miami area, Vi at Aventura was a natural fit for the musically minded, retired orthopedic surgeon and his wife.

Lifelong love

“My first violin, it started out sort of like a cigar box — that I played terribly,” laughed Dr. Dunn, remembering his first years as a budding violinist. It wasn’t until age 14 that Dr. Dunn found a teacher who helped him sharpen his talent playing the instrument he had already grown to love. “I made such fantastic progress that I was chosen as a concert master by the New Jersey All-State Orchestra. I was the number one violinist in the state.”

But as a young man Dr. Dunn wondered if the life of a traveling musician was right for him. “A virtuoso travels six months a year and only talks to family on the phone. I’m basically a family man. I decided to keep the violin in my life but choose another profession.”

A violin maker that Dr. Dunn would often visit in New York City helped point him in the right direction. “I’d sit in Mr. Silverstein’s shop and he’d talk to me about repairs. One day he said to me, ‘You can always be a doctor and play an instrument, but you can’t play an instrument and become a doctor.’ I followed his advice, and I’m quite happy about it.”

Creating masterpieces

Guidance toward the medical profession wasn’t the only thing Dr. Dunn took away from his visits to Mr. Silverstein’s shop. Dr. Dunn also became a violin maker. As a physician and researcher, Dr. Dunn found the patience and precision required to create a violin appealed to his more scientific nature. “It might seem strange for me to have this hobby, but it is a science and an art,” shared Dr. Dunn.

Over the years, Dr. Dunn has crafted more than 20 violins, all created from the mold of his original Amati violin. “All violins are based on the molds of great violins, like Stradivarius and Guarneri,” said Dr. Dunn. Once a violin is complete, he adds it to his collection of handmade violins, all of which were brought with him when Dr. and Mrs. Dunn moved to The Vi. And while he hasn’t yet created a new instrument as a resident of the senior living community, he will soon, once the others have their place of pride in the Dunn’s new home. “For now, they are all in one room,” he shared.

Choir practice and conversations

Unpacking and decorating their apartment isn’t the only thing keeping the couple busy at The Vi. From choir practice and book club to drama class and lectures, the couple have a full schedule. And, in such a musical community, a mutual love for music has been an easy way to spark conversations with their new neighbors over dinner in one of the community’s restaurants, or performances and recitals in the Everglades Room. “It’s been great here and so easy making friends with people we never would have met if we hadn’t moved in,” said Dr. Dunn. The couple are looking forward to more opportunities to new make friends, and beautiful music, at Vi at Aventura in the years ahead.