Apprentices in instrument appraisal


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In light of the recent topics regarding appraisals and the weight of their authors, the authors of responses heavily favored a bottom up approach. An interested pupil/maker/apprentice of desiring to be able to identify and appraise instruments should have access to a large dealer where many instruments are available. Does any one here on MN have such a person in their shops/dealerships?

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My question is specifically, what does one look for in an apprentice type? Eager to learn, background in playing/making, time and money to spend a few years at the side of a master? I think I am mostly looking and asking for answers as to how some of the illustrious members here and in the general business got their start and built their good name and expertise.

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Let's piss off some folks!

The only way to attain a respectable level of expertise concerning violin identification and appraisal is by seeing, holding, studying, smelling, licking absorbing in every possible way thousands of instruments over many, many years.

The only way.

Four years, as in a college course, would not cut it.

To be able to be handed a violin out of the blue and identify it's country of origin, time of construction, and ultimately specific maker requires a level of commitment and study that is not possible through a few years, or without

access to a steady stream of instruments of all kinds.

As far as an apprentice goes, the best one could do is attach oneself to a shop that has hundreds of instruments coming in and out of it's doors constantly, and make it a point to see every single one.

One has to be trained to "see" violins, and after that one simply has to go where the violins and see them.

The "experts" on this forum got that way because they worked in shops that had access to 100's if not 1000's of instruments, and they made it a point to see every single one.

You will come up short if you do it any other way.

Oh, and a photographic memory is really helpful. ;)

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My question is specifically, what does one look for in an apprentice type? Eager to learn, background in playing/making, time and money to spend a few years at the side of a master? I think I am mostly looking and asking for answers as to how some of the illustrious members here and in the general business got their start and built their good name and expertise.

I don't think you can interview or look at curriculums to decide who you're going to employ as an apprentice expert. I would NEVER hire anyone for that reason. You would have to be clairvoyant. For the people who work for me I think it is important that they see many different instruments and that we take the time to discuss features, if there's time to spare in a busy work day. They are encouraged to read, go to exhibitions, look at the instruments over lunch and after shop hours. These same people who have a lot less experience than I do can come up with observations that I might not have thought of or seen before. Different eyes, different viewpoints. It's great when someone points out to me something I hadn't noticed before and on a violin that has already been through the shop on a number of occasions. We both learn.

Bruce

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It seems to me, many of the "well knowns" came from a different time in a different system that NO LONGER IS THERE.

Darton,Burgess,Alf,Carlson...etc, all seem to have grown up in a period of time where there were still famous "shops" , Shops where a young man could get on the inside and work his way into "understanding". This of course was well before NWO GLOBALISM and or the reality that these guys were not dealing with an economy where an open invasion of free trade allowed a massive amount of cheap competition.

The "Shop" environment is dying, if not dead, only a VERY FEW LEFT...and now of course they only deal with super high end stuff, the day to day instruments go to the "little people"

I do not feel the opportunities that were there for those guys AT THAT TIME are here anymore. At this point I would say nepotism is driving any existing high end shop knowledge. You are either born into it, or your not. Not that there aren't ways in, but really the pool is very tiny.

To me it is much like what we see with the world with "us". What you see is the decimation of the middle class, Soon there will be the few rich, with the rest poor. Conflated to violins, soon you only have the very high end stuff, the few makers who can get enough an instrument to make it profitable, and then the rest of the cheap ass crap....Not going to be much room in the 3000-7000 range.

Frankly I think the idea of a "school" is novel, but don't really think the economy is there to support it. It may be a fun leisure class, but that would be about it.

Also, as other have expressed, this would be much like the STATE granting contractors lic# to people who have passed the test....Sure anyone can pass the test....But does that mean that they should be "turned loose" on an unknowing population? The STATE through indoctrination, have the masses thinking that if someone has a lic# that they are accountable and know what they are doing, sorry, but thats not the case. I can say, without a doubt, that I have had to redo MAJOR damage done by "lic contractors" WAY more than the non.

I would really worry about someone with a piece of paper saying "I have license to do this"....but not too much, you can have all the accreditation you want, that still doesn't mean you'll be getting your hands on a Strad. You have to know people and be on the inside for that to happen.

Surgeons, and the medical field do not apply, thats another topic all together, I like to consider accreditation for those in the medical field separate from other forms of accreditation.

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This is an interesting related vid in which Wurlitzer apparently wrote an incorrect attribution.

Ahhh the roadshow. Did that for a few seasons when I was with the firm. :) Tiring weekends, but fun at times.

Any expert can make an error. Actually, I think it's safe to say that every expert makes errors. In this case, however, please note it's the Rudolph Wurlitzer Company, not the Rembert Wurlitzer company. This distinction, and the relative reliability of the opinions, was covered on a thread in the auction scroll several months back.

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Ahhh the roadshow. Did that for a few seasons when I was with the firm. :) Tiring weekends, but fun at times.

Any expert can make an error. Actually, I think it's safe to say that every expert makes errors. In this case, however, please note it's the Rudolph Wurlitzer Company, not the Rembert Wurlitzer company. This distinction, and the relative reliability of the opinions, was covered on a thread in the auction scroll several months back.

Thanks for the clarification, easy to get the 2 Wurlitzers confused.

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It seems to me, many of the "well knowns" came from a different time in a different system that NO LONGER IS THERE.

I can't say that everything I learned was in a big shop but it certainly opened my eyes. I've always been very agressive about hunting out information, maybe less so now, but a real thirst for information is necessary. I have also been highly intolerant of the "used car salesman" who will tell you anything he has to just to sell the merchandise. It's more important to realize what you don't know and question everything otherwise it's difficult to make progress.

Bruce

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It seems to me, many of the "well knowns" came from a different time in a different system that NO LONGER IS THERE.

Darton,Burgess,Alf,Carlson...etc, all seem to have grown up in a period of time where there were still famous "shops" , Shops where a young man could get on the inside and work his way into "understanding". This of course was well before NWO GLOBALISM and or the reality that these guys were not dealing with an economy where an open invasion of free trade allowed a massive amount of cheap competition.

The "Shop" environment is dying, if not dead, only a VERY FEW LEFT...and now of course they only deal with super high end stuff, the day to day instruments go to the "little people"

I do not feel the opportunities that were there for those guys AT THAT TIME are here anymore. At this point I would say nepotism is driving any existing high end shop knowledge. You are either born into it, or your not. Not that there aren't ways in, but really the pool is very tiny.

To me it is much like what we see with the world with "us". What you see is the decimation of the middle class, Soon there will be the few rich, with the rest poor. Conflated to violins, soon you only have the very high end stuff, the few makers who can get enough an instrument to make it profitable, and then the rest of the cheap ass crap....Not going to be much room in the 3000-7000 range.

Frankly I think the idea of a "school" is novel, but don't really think the economy is there to support it. It may be a fun leisure class, but that would be about it.

Also, as other have expressed, this would be much like the STATE granting contractors lic# to people who have passed the test....Sure anyone can pass the test....But does that mean that they should be "turned loose" on an unknowing population? The STATE through indoctrination, have the masses thinking that if someone has a lic# that they are accountable and know what they are doing, sorry, but thats not the case. I can say, without a doubt, that I have had to redo MAJOR damage done by "lic contractors" WAY more than the non.

I would really worry about someone with a piece of paper saying "I have license to do this"....but not too much, you can have all the accreditation you want, that still doesn't mean you'll be getting your hands on a Strad. You have to know people and be on the inside for that to happen.

Surgeons, and the medical field do not apply, thats another topic all together, I like to consider accreditation for those in the medical field separate from other forms of accreditation.

There are still many places to learn these skills for people who are willing to make the comittment to go through the standard school or aprenticeship to become a usefull violin maker then apply for a job in a good violin shop where they will see good instruments under the guidance of someone who really knows about expertise.These shops do hire people but obviously they are only looking for people who will add something to their shop and who they feel are worth teaching.

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There are still many places to learn these skills for people who are willing to make the comittment to go through the standard school or aprenticeship to become a usefull violin maker then apply for a job in a good violin shop where they will see good instruments under the guidance of someone who really knows about expertise.These shops do hire people but obviously they are only looking for people who will add something to their shop and who they feel are worth teaching.

I agree with that, however the number is small and getting smaller. In a way the internet has not helped individuals who are trying to eek out an existence making, selling, dealing violins, in a way it has helped lots.

I would say that what you are talking about is working with or for one of the big guys who worked in the big shops, and or to apprentice under a big name. But here again, there are not tons of openings for those positions, let alone qualified applicants, and well with the way the small business atmosphere is these days, with the propaganda of fear related to law suits and liability I think it makes it very difficult for the small one man show want o risk bringing someone into their shop, so now it seems most knowledge and a small pittance of money for those that teach is relegated to the workshop environment. I'm sure the guys like David and Jeffery who teach at oberlin and vsa workshops, as well as Darton and what he does in So cal. Do it more for the love of it than the money. There are many great guys who share what they can, and I commend them for it.

But I think creating an "industry" of "De'vry institute of violin appraisal and identification" is far fetch simply for the fact that there is not enough of the pie to go around.

I think if one "wants in" they first have to have talent, and then they have to take the time to be involved in the club at membership level. I don't mean that in a bad way, its just someone either has the combination of talent, free time and money to get heavily involved in the vsa workshops as well as go to all the workshops that private guys may give in order to "work your way in" to getting to know all the guys who can "get you there" and who may give you a shot working with them. Let alone at these workshops, many will get opportunities to see master instruments. I feel building and competing in the vsa competition is also crucial to gaining acceptance, something that may or may not be realistic for someone to do. For example, I can't compete because I don't make, or don't like to make Strad style violins, I would have to "change" what I want to do to do that, so thats ok. But I think having the base money to even start thinking about building and competing can hold many back also...

To me, what ever one does is ok with me, I'd rather someone be lurking, thinking about violins than watching tv, really anything violins is ok or better than most things so tale è la vita

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Any expert can make an error. Actually, I think it's safe to say that every expert makes errors.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/roadshow/archive/200706A04.html

"On the left-hand lower corner of the label, it says, "F.N.” handwritten in ink, and that means "forma nova." He was creating his new form. It was his time to express himself as a young maker and in a new country where there was lots of opportunity and lots of privilege."

Or maybe F.N. stands for Fred Nebel. In all fairness I think A.D. had some input.

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