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Strings Attached [Kindle Edition]

Joanne Lipman , Melanie Kupchynsky
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (103 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
Kindle Price: $8.89
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Sold by: Hachette Book Group

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Book Description

STRINGS ATTACHED is a powerful memoir about
resilience in the face of unspeakable tragedy, an inspiring and poignant
tale of how one man transformed his own heartache into a legacy
of joy for his students.

His students knew Jerry Kupchynsky
as "Mr. K" - the fierce, foot-stomping Ukrainian-born music teacher who
rehearsed them until their fingers almost bled, and who made them better
than they had any right to be. Away from the classroom, though, life
seemed to conspire against him at every turn. STRINGS ATTACHED
takes you on his remarkable journey, from his childhood on the run in
Nazi Germany, to his life in America caring for his disabled wife and
their two young daughters, to his search for his younger daughter after
she mysteriously disappears - a search that would last for seven years. 

unforgettable story is lyrically told in alternating chapters by two
childhood friends who reconnected decades later: journalist Joanne
Lipman, his former student; and Chicago Symphony Orchestra violinist
Melanie Kupchynsky, his daughter.

Heartbreaking yet ultimately triumphant, STRINGS ATTACHED
is a testament to the astonishing power of hope -- and a celebration of
the profound influence one person can have on the lives of others.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Part biography of a beloved teacher and father, part memoir, the book's central character, music teacher Jerry Mr. K Kupchynsky, looms larger than life on the page—just as he did for journalist Lipman, one of Mr. K's violists, and Melanie, his elder daughter, now a violinist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. His teaching methods are extreme—cracking the knuckle on a student's thumb to emphasize correct finger placement—but glimpses of his family life soften his image. We learn about how Mr. K fled from both Nazis and Soviets in his native Ukraine during WWII, and about the stress he endured later in life when his wife was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The authors provide intimate details from their lives as well. Central to the book is Melanie's relationship with her younger sister, Stephanie. Lipman and Kupchynsky played together in a string quartet organized by Mr. K, of which Stephanie was also a part. In 1991, Stephanie disappeared from her apartment in upstate New York. The ensuing search, led by the Kupchynsky family and aided by Lipman, provides the mystery around which the reminiscences about Mr. K are organized. Though the book contains less educational philosophy than the foreword suggests, the authors' memories are more powerful for not being embellished with preachy conclusions. Photos. Agent: Suzanne Gluck, William Morris Endeavor. (Oct.)


"A vivid, often tender portrait...that ends up ripping your heart out." -USA TODAY

"A very fine dual memoir.... For those who had a figure like Mr. K in their lives, STRINGS ATTACHED will resonate. Everyone else will wish they had been so lucky."
The New York Times Book Review

"A wonderful, inspiring story of a teacher who pushed his students to do more than they thought they could--and changed their lives."—--Jeanette Walls, bestselling author of The Glass Castle

"A vivid, often tender portrait.... Writing in alternate sections, Lipman and Kupchynsky tell Mr. K's story in plain prose that ends up ripping your heart out."
USA Today

"Makes me believe that one man can make a difference.... This book reveals how music can become an anchor, a binding element for creating friendship and support during times of grief, illness, and tragedy.... Mr. K's work lives on and we are all the richer for it."—Yo-Yo Ma

"Moving and motivating... While tactics like [Mr. K's] may not have earned his students immediate devotion, they never forgot him and often found they could achieve more than they ever dreamed."—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

"Strings Attached gives us many gifts. It allows us to look into the world of music (Melanie Kupchynsky plays today for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra); it reminds us of the promise of America to immigrants with ambition; it gives us a portrait of a man who struggled against great odds in life, who suffered great adversity, but who always forged ahead in spite of his many trials.... It also reminds us to be thankful for those teachers who made a difference in our lives, those who refused to listen to our excuses, those who terrorized us as did Mr. K., who pushed us to overcome obstacles, who took us out of ourselves and helped carry us toward our dreams."—Smoky Mountain News

Product Details

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Meet a Tough Love Teacher October 1, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
Strings Attached was personal and emotional for me on two levels: first, as a young music student faced with teachers who held their rulers above my knuckles as I struggled to learn to play piano, and second, as a lover of classical music. Some teachers instilled in me the love of the classics but also my father loved them and played them often on Saturday mornings on an old Stromberg-Carlson phonograph. Both my father and my music teachers are all held lovingly in my memory as the roots of my musical life.

Strings Attached has received great advance reviews, and I join them here in saying that this book is a must read. And it isn't written only for musicians or lovers of music -- anyone with heart and a love of humanity will enjoy this book.

Within its pages, you meet Jerry Kupchynsky, a Ukrainian immigrant who came to the United States in search of a future, something better than he had lived through in the Ukraine. The layers of his life began in Ukraine and the multitude of layers grew -- birth in the Ukraine near the start of the Holodomor and a tragic childhood as a result, strength of character, perseverance, incredible work ethic, a love of music and family, and unimaginable joy. Yes, joy! Mr. K, as his students called him, was a ball of fire, an unfathomable level of energy passion for teaching, his students, and once again the music.

Mr. K's teaching style was one of high expectations, rules, and often impatience, but always with love. His use in dialogue of musical terms or anywhere the authors use musical terminology they have done so in layman's terms so as not to interrupt the flow of the text.

In re-enacting teaching sessions with Mr. K and his students, Lipman and Kupchynsky have cleverly adopted Mr.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "You'll thank me later." September 1, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
In "Strings Attached," by Joanne Lipman and Melanie Kupchynsky, the authors movingly describe what it was like growing up in the sixties and seventies and learning about music and self-discipline. Their teacher was Melanie's Ukranian-born father, Jerry Kupchynsky, who was known as Mr. K by the students he taught in East Brunswick, New Jersey. Joanne began taking viola lessons when she was ten and eventually went on to pursue a stellar career in journalism. Melanie, Jerry's daughter, is a professional violinist who has performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra since 1989. When Joanne was eleven, she and Melanie became members of a string quartet that included Melanie's friend, Miriam, on cello, and her sister, Stephanie, on violin.

Mr. K did not merely teach boys and girls how to play stringed instruments. He hollered, poked, prodded, and nagged. He insisted that his students practice for countless hours until they met his high standards. Many of Mr. K's students were selected to play in county, state, and regional orchestras and, as adults, some emulated Mr. K and became music teachers themselves. All of them learned to work together harmoniously with their fellow musicians. When Joanne was a child, she remembers that her parents approved of Mr. K's methods. Although he lacked tact and finesse, he achieved terrific results. Lipman says, "He yelled [at us] not because we'd never learn, but because he was absolutely certain that we would," and adds, "He made us better than we had any right to be." Today, it is likely that he would be condemned, if not fired, for being far too harsh and demanding.

The co-authors say in the book's foreword that for those "raised on a steady diet of praise and trophies--a little toughness goes an awfully long way." The kids who studied with Mr.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read October 21, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Long before the world heard of "Tiger Moms", there was Mr. K. Before "No Child Left Behind", there was Mr K. And before Jaime Escalante, there was Mr K. A man who believed that every child could succeed if they worked hard enough. A teacher who did not reward mere attempts or give faint praise. A man who knew that failure was a critical part of learning and that students grew by overcoming their failures. A man who inspired his students to work harder than they ever thought possible, simply to hear the words "not bad". An educator who knew that success was its own reward and devoted himself to his students success. Now we call it "tough love". Back then, it was just Mr K.

Told alternately by his daughter, Melanie, and one of his former students, Joanne Lipman, Strings Attached is a loving, poignant, honest, often humorous portrait of the life of a teacher who survived multiple tragedies and who taught his students not only music, but also confidence, poise and how to succeed in life.

Strings Attached is a must for teachers, parents, and even students. But if nothing else, it is a darn good read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Gift" is right on October 1, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I'm always wary when committing to reading this type of memoir. Is it going to turn into another self-indulgent, self-congratulatory journal that speaks to few readers, including me? Nothing to fear here. This is a very personal story, told in parallel, complimentary threads by two childhood friends. It's about humility, faith, perseverance, devotion, and love. I laughed and cried. Ultimately, I was inspired to renew my passion for my own life's work. This is a moving slice of life, told beautifully. It's going to make Christmas shopping much easier this year.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommend not just to anyone who has ever made music
A heartbreaking and heartfelt memoir on how a ferociously demanding Ukrainian string instrument teacher in East Brunswick, NJ touched countless lives through the religion that is... Read more
Published 3 days ago by Liya Ma
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a very well written book and I enjoyed it very much
Melanie Kupchynsky was my colleague when she lived in Pittsburgh. I admire her for allowing the reader into her home. Read more
Published 14 days ago by CB
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read.
Very moving book.
Published 22 days ago by Mary
5.0 out of 5 stars MARVELOUS
This book is so absorbing it will keep you up! It's not a thriller, but it envelops you in a world you won't want to leave. It's a great man's story, very well written. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Mary loves Murder
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful story of the resiliency of the human spirit & ...
Wonderful story of the resiliency of the human spirit & how one person's life can affect so many others. Inspirational!
Published 3 months ago by Donna M Bucher
4.0 out of 5 stars stick toitiveness
Was a very enlightened book. I have often wondered how musicians can stay together for so long.
Published 3 months ago by RITA
3.0 out of 5 stars I was disappointed by this book
I was disappointed by this book. It probably isn't the book itself, but rather that I had different expectations. I thought this was going to be like "Mr. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Cilla
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book, was in great condition
Good book, was in great condition
Published 4 months ago by Tim M
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, moving story!
This book was so inspiring and interesting. I was moved to tears several times. It is the story of a music teacher, "Mr. K," with unconventional methods. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Humby
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth a read?
Book recommended to me by John Russell who sat next to J Lipmann in New York City at a charity event.
A book of music and life; well worth reading.
Published 4 months ago by Darryl Redhage
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