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devils advocate


Darren Molnar
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1. A self taught maker will never be successful at his/her

craft.

2. Unless you attend a violin making school and graduate you will

not build great instruments.

3.  Unless you are a graduate you will never be taken

seriously by the industry.[dealers]

4.  A player will pay tens of thousands of dollars for a

violin by a well known maker but will not pay a few thousand for a

violin of the same quality by a local maker.

5. All instruments made by graduates of a school look similar.

6.Local variations in style are frowned upon.

7. Unless your instrument looks like it was made by a graduate, it

will not do well at a violin making competition.

8.  all of the information available from books, internet,

forums and instrument collections will not be equal to the

information taught at a violin making school.

9. You cannot develop your violin making skills to their highest

potential unless you apprentice with a well known maker

Discuss.

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I know a few makers who never went to a school,it hasnt seemed to harm their reputations.

I agree on your point of instruments from certain schools looking alike. I have noticed it recently in the last few years with American makers from certain regions.

Newark school instrument are quite easily recognised, as are Cremona school.I think some makers can shake off what they,ve been taught ,and develope more of their own style ,other dont seem to be able to.

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quote:


1. A self taught maker will never be successful at his/her craft.


ummm, no.

I've been making conductor's batons for a year or so now - with some very succesfull results.

quote:


6.Local variations in style are frowned upon.

There is a maker named Finn Meyer in Minneapolis, MN who has a very unique style - not deviant, but unique. He or his work is by no means frowned upon.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
Darren Molnar

1. A self taught maker will never be successful at his/her

craft.

2. Unless you attend a violin making school and graduate you will

not build great instruments.

3.  Unless you are a graduate you will never be taken

seriously by the industry.[dealers]

4.  A player will pay tens of thousands of dollars for a

violin by a well known maker but will not pay a few thousand for a

violin of the same quality by a local maker.

5. All instruments made by graduates of a school look similar.

6.Local variations in style are frowned upon.

7. Unless your instrument looks like it was made by a graduate, it

will not do well at a violin making competition.

8.  all of the information available from books, internet,

forums and instrument collections will not be equal to the

information taught at a violin making school.

9. You cannot develop your violin making skills to their highest

potential unless you apprentice with a well known maker

Discuss.

              

  
  

Hi Darren,

You got a good assessment there. I forgot who said it but he was surly right:

"A self taught man had a fool for a teacher" However there are exceptions.

Cheers Wolfjk

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quote:


Originally posted by:
Darren Molnar

1. A self taught maker will never be successful at his/her

craft.


Completely 'Self taught' is probably very rare anyways. If a maker never attends a school he at least will employ the use of numerous books and the wealth of information the internet (ie: Maestronet) has to offer, making him at least 'book taught' or 'internet taught'. I agree a school would be the best place but not everyone has the $20,000+ dollars to go to one.

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I'm almost completely self taught as my first five or so violins are clear evidence for. I modified my style over time and now my style is not like anything that the schools teach but is traditional looking from a suitable distance. (That distance will vary depending on whether you are a player looking for a good instrument or you are a builder critiquing my work.) My violins do sell for a few thousand at the moment because right now I'm a physics student and I'm not trying to do this as my sole income. I fully agree with the part about not being taken seriously by dealers, especially the German trained ones, they really don't even like having me stand in their shops. One exception is Jay Rury's shop (as far as I know he's not a school taught guy) in the Dallas area. Jay and Duncan have always treated me nicely and were always willing to let me hang out and look at all of their violins. Once they even pulled out some rare, expensive violas from the safe for me to look at.

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Don't know how applicable it is, but my brother once pointed out to me that there are no "self-taught" golfers on the professional tour.

All you can do is start where you are, and make the best of the opportunities you have before you. If you have the opportunity to go to a good school, do so. If not, but you love the craft, press on.

Why let someone else define success for you? I know several makers who will never enter a VSA competition, but who sell every instrument they make... are they successful? If making a living at it was their primary goal, then yes, they are successful. But if winning the Gold at VSA was the goal, they are simply going at it wrong-- I mean you DO have to join, and enter an instrument....

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Darren, you troublemaker!

I think a really good instrument may stand on its own merit, given the right circumstances.

Sure, one might take a fiddle into a shop where people don't know anything, and all they'd have to go on is where you trained.

In the questions, there seems to be a lot of emphasis placed on school training. There are plenty of violin making school graduates who haven't done well in competitions. I think a background in a major shop will trump that almost every time.

A particular school style is hard to shake. Many of us can often recognize what school someone attended. Comments, Jeffrey?

I have in mind one maker who does danged nice stuff, without any "formal" training to my knowledge.

I first saw his work at a VSA competition. I told him he had unusual talent, and suggested that he get some training. He said he had a family, bills to pay and couldn't relocate. I think I said something about needing to be willing to "pay your dues", and pretty much wrote him off as someone with the wrong attitude.

Forward fifteen (?) years. Saw a fiddle he brought to the Library of Congress violin celebration thingy. Derned nice, 99 percentile!

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Apprenticeship and/or school-training are not absolutely necessary, but definitely have advantages. They present a far faster way of learning- a whole lot less experimentation, false starts, and trial & error. But the draw-back (and maybe it's not a draw-back at all), is that those methods of learning make it much more difficult to develop one's individual style. It's kind of like being programmed, or "making them in our image". That's why "schools" of making are recognizable.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
David Burgess

A particular school style is hard to shake. Many of us can often recognize what school someone attended. Comments, Jeffrey?


Absolutely... I've walked down the the tables at a competition or two and mentally "grouped" many of the instruments into their repective schools for fun.

I think it takes years to move away from what's taught at the start... and even then there's often those little things that seem to hang on... not that they're all bad things. Could probably say the same about any intensive "training" even if it's not formal school as well. Even "continuing education" programs have this effect... For example, I've noticed that several of the makers who attend Oberlin have some similarities in style or approach... of some aspect or another.

I also agree about shop exposure being a big plus. Working in a major shop, or access to a major shop(s) is a huge advantage, in my opinion... otherwise one is left out in the field without exposure to good instruments... with interpreting an interpretation. The input from others is also very, very valuable... as I've found one only takes in so much at a sitting... other eyes see different details... and player input from high class players is critical (I know some makers who are certainly darn good players... but no serious makers who are top notch concert players).

Problem is, few shops will hire someone with little or no training these days... school is one "way in".

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quote:


Originally posted by:
Melving

Violin making school is not so great. ....They generally pay

teachers crap wages ...so who is teaching? ...Work in a variety of

top shops  is far better training....Either criteria are bad

 ways of looking at a maker


Well, I hope there's more hope for schools than that. I view them as a way to learn the basics in the modern world (rather than sweeping the floor at age 10 and working up to sharpening, etc.). What one leaves school "with" really depends on the individual, though. I've seen some graduates that were really in need of total re-training, and others who were able to catch onto other techniques quite quickly.

I am biased, though. I've been on the board of directors of the Chicago school since it went non-profit. Like to think I'm not wasting my time... BTW, the teachers there have wages and benefits, including health insurance. Pay's not what I'd call "great", but we're trying.

I will say that although I did work at shops while in school, David can attest to the fact that my walking into a serious shop (his) after I graduated was an eye opener for me. I'm sure he had more than one chuckle watching me flounder around... and I can say he was very patient (he even stayed calm when, early on, I sawed half way through a button on a beautiful cello back!). My point is that school does not prepare you to take the violin world by storm. It's just a way to start.

I agree about the criteria, though. An instrument appeals to me, or it doesn't. If it appeals to me, then I do tend to get curious about the background of the maker... but background is not the determining factor.

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Good food for thought! And I have thought a lot about this subject

(these subjects).

I have comments about this subject and relating less directly to

this subject. Here goes.

People take from any situation what they are ready for. No less, no

more. I firmly believe this because I have seen it a hundred times

in various forms. You can tell a person exactly how to do

something, and they will understand the part they already know, and

some more. A year later, with more experience under their belt,

they will receive the same lesson and this time hear every

word!

This phenomenon is relevant to the subject because it is good to

remember how differently people absorb information. Photos are

perfect for some people, and merely helpful to others. A CD or live

lecture is understood in varying degrees by different people too.

Still others absolutely HAVE to see something be done to understand

it at all. Some need silence, others truly need background noise or

music to best assimilate new information.

So, it can be no surprise that a traditional school is best for

some and worst for others.

I am a product of a traditional school and I worked hard to help

those who came to study at the school where I taught for many

years. I still feel it is the most expedient way for most (not all)

people to learn the craft.

When I go down the tables at a VSA competition, I can readily

identify Boston, Chicago, Salt Lake, Milan, Mittenwald, Cremona,

and Parma. Not every one that comes from those schools-that is NOT

what I am saying! But before students move away from their training

towards their own style, the schools trademarks are hanging out all

over the place to me. There are specific characteristics of each of

those schools that I can identify.

Moving on from your training is more important than your training.

Your early work does not define your mature body of work- thank

goodness! (If you know my really early work, you know exactly

why I am saying this.)

The market for instruments is not based on where the person

learned, but on what the person learned and is able to produce.

fire away!

Marilyn Wallin

Boston

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A lot went on while I was writing that reply, and I have to respond to the comment "who teaches at the schools?" Qualified violinmakers who want to teach and have to work very hard, that's who. Any one who still subscribes to the stereotype "Those who can't, teach" has never taught! It requires deep understanding of the material. The ability to teach is a separate skill one needs, in addition to violinmaking, to adequately do that hard job..

marilyn

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I'll tell you, Marilyn, I don't think I could handle teaching... too demanding. I'm content to work in the background, on the board, and leave instruction to those who know how to do it well. I have quite a bit of respect for those of you who "can" teach.

To be fair to Melvin, I noticed he deleted his post before I put mine up... so I kind of put him in on the spot. I have a feeling he decided he'd said a bit more than he wanted too... or had second thoughts at least. Sorry Melvin!

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Teaching IS exhausting- if you are doing it right! But let's get back on track. I am glad to see that you also can tell which school, as in school building, instruments have come from in living makers. Has that gotten easier as your expertise in old makers has grown? Is it all the same skill set? or are we easier to tell apart then the old timers?

marilyn

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quote:


Originally posted by:
Montagnana

I am glad to see that you also can tell which school, as in school building, instruments have come from in living makers. Has that gotten easier as your expertise in old makers has grown? Is it all the same skill set? or are we easier to tell apart then the old timers?

marilyn


I certainly think it's related... the cues are similar and I believe the "eye" develops to recognize the cues. With modern instruments, I notice it's often the "softness" or "hardness" of the work and tone of the finish that strikes me first (I'm talking about the feeling, not the actual material), even before the style/modeling is taken in... but if I think of the "face" that an old Cremonese or Venetian instrument presents, it's really kind of noticing the same thing.

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