My name is Orla Strijker and I’m 17 years old. I have a dream! Ever since I was 13 years old I wanted to become a guitar builder. For these past 2 years I’ve been working fulltime as a guitar technician at “the Fellowship of Acoustics”in the town of Dedemsvaart. And it was there that I’ve been offered a chance. Let me start from the beginning.
I was 12 years old, going to “Vechtdal” College in the town of Hardenberg and I had to choose what course to study: Technology, Welfare and Healthcare, or Gardening. I chose Technology because I like working with my hands. At first I chose Automotive Engineering, but after a while it turned out I wasn’t really good with cars So I switched to Woodworking. I was 13 years old but I didn’t know at the time that I wanted to become a luthier.
A few months later I went to an American Classical Cars meeting with my parents and there was this booth from a guy who makes Cigar box guitars. It was then that I realized that I wanted to become a guitar maker. Being a guitarist and a woodworker myself I thought it would be great to combine those two things. So I went to see my teacher Ewout Warringa and told him that I wanted to become a guitar builder. He thought it was a great idea and said: “that really suits you, maybe we can make a guitar here at school someday...
Two years later, at the age of 15 and still wanting to become a luthier my teachers and I talked about building guitars. I was in my last year of school and the teacher proposed to have me, instead of doing the usual final wood shop project, build a guitar instead. I was so happy, I have never been this happy in my entire life: finally we are going to build a guitar. Some time later on a morning my sister woke me up and said: Orla, you have to call TFOA now, they are hiring someone for the Saturdays. So I got out of bed as quick as I could and decided to give them a call. The owner of the shop, Rudi Bults, attended. I explained him that I would like to apply for the Saturday job and he invited me over for a meeting on that very day.
So me and my father went to the guitar shop. I introduced myself there and told them that I wanted to become a luthier. Rudi’s reaction was very positive: that’s exactly what we’re looking for, someone with a passion for guitars. After this very short meeting I was asked to leave my personal details. I went for a little walk through the shop, and Rudi already told my father; “we’re going to hire her for sure, I think she’s the right person for the job”. So on the next day I got a call and was asked to start straight away. So I packed my things and went to the guitar shop as quickly as I could. And that’s how it all started. By Christmas 2015 we started building an electric guitar at the Vechtdal college. The guitar was ready on November 28th 2016. I am more than happy, the sound is so good and I think it’s the most beautiful electric guitar I’ve ever seen.
After my graduation from Vechtdal college I went to Deltion College. Over there I took the furniture making program. One day per week of actual classes in school, and 4 days a week of working in the guitar shop. In those four days a week working as an intern at TFOA I learned a lot from my masters Erwin and Harry. Some people say they are the best in The Netherland/Europe. With them I already learned a trade. They say that with what I learned so far I can already make a living.
After about half a year of working at TFOA Rudi introduced me to Sergei De Jonge, a guitar builder from Canada. TFOA sells his guitars. Rudi told him I was 15 years old and wanted to become a luthier. And Sergei offered that if I would ever come to Canada he would teach me. That was the best moment in my life so far. After about three months I called Sergei again to ask him if the offer still stood. He was still very enthusiastic about it. My plan now is to leave for Canada somewhere between April and June 2018.
So far everything has been arranged for, but I could use a little help with the financial part of this. Would you guys be willing to help me fulfill my dream ?