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Will L

A TWO YEAR VIOLINMAKING SCHOOL?

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It's a sad prospect that a serious-minded student (and I use this term assuming that most of us have some sort of innate love of the violin, so we ARE serious) might not find the right school for his/her personality.

 

I remember a friend back in the '60s looking for a photography school.  She had narrowed her search to two:  One was very much into technique and teaching the student a specific set of skills,  and the other had a very laissez faire approach: basically, "show up and don't forget to bring a camera." :)

 

I know which one I would have chosen, but looking back I probably would have been wrong.  I figure that when we show up at the "wrong" school, we have to take matters into our own hands and either make the best of it by adjusting, or get out fast.

 

Have there been any articles in Stradmag regarding the schools and their differences?  If not, it might be a worthwhile investigation.

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Can someone post here the tuition costs for the various lutherie schools including the duration of the program? 

I don't know about abroad, but...

 

Chicago School, 3 years, $30k

Violin Making School of America (Salt Lake), 3 years, $31k

North Bennet St School (Boston), 3 years, $71k

New World School (Derber), 3 years, $17k

 

Tuitions increase a bit each year, of course.

 

 

 

Take a look at this new born private school here in Cremona (born almost in secret, no one knew anything until the appearance of the web site a few months ago),  scroll down to "tuition cost" to see the cost per year. <_<

 

http://www.academiacremonensis.it/en/corso-di-costruzione-violino/

 

The course lasts three years, currently I do not know if they found students.......

 

Davide

I had a chance to visit this facility when I was traveling around Italy in July. It's in an amazing old apartment building, last belonging to some sort of noble clergymen or politician, I forget which. Perhaps the proper word for this building is palace? It has a giant courtyard which connects to a large patch of wilderness in the back, it was impressive.

Either way, the school takes up about 1/4 of the building and is spread amongst 6 or 7 smaller rooms. I was given the tour by Massimo Lucchi, who is in charge, and we discussed the program at length. The question of who the teacher would be was never really resolved, it sounded like there would be visiting teachers and they would change from term to term. Also he hoped to develop a system where the more advanced students would teach the beginning students in some instances. He said they could fit a total of 10 students, and that they had 2 confirmed students who were to begin in September. Mr. Lucchi stressed that there would be a focus on bow restoration and rehair, and if the students' ability allowed, bow making. This was how they hoped to set themselves apart from all the other schools. He also admitted that a lot of things were still up in the air and they would figure it out as they went along...

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As usual you took the words right out of my mouth. 

 

 However, in my class (mid 1970’s) and those in the two years after us, the majority of the students were ex academics that had completed some form of full time education. As a result they were a difficult bunch to teach, but they were almost certainly better motivated and united in their convictions than any bunch of younger students would normally be. 

 

 

Thank you.  Perhaps that will encourage you to speak up sooner?  :lol::)

 

Your school's faculty should be commended for their courage in guiding such a herd of cats.  "Non-traditional students", as they are called over here, have an entirely different set of needs from the usual wet-behind-the-ears undergraduate, and are both a challenge and a joy to instruct because they are more mature in their outlooks, do know why they are there, as well as more skilled in all manner of things that the younger student has yet to learn from life.  One sees a lot of them on the "G.I. Bill" these days.  I feel that schools which take the trouble to tailor programs aimed at them would find it most profitable.  In this case an abbreviated program might be most appropriate.

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Thanks, Joshua,

 

In looking over your post again, I see that a a couple of the schools are about $10,000 a year.  That doesn't seem unreasonable to me since over the years I have paid about $500-$800 per week for various short term courses like New Hampshire.  But I find it interesting that that one school you listed is over twice as much.

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Makers as teachers...teachers as makers....students as makers....teacher/makers as mentors....

Tschu Ho Lee

Peter Prier

 

The "faculty" over the years at North Bennet St.

Ray Melhanson

Arthur Toman

Marilyn Wallin

Kevin Kelly

Christopher White

Roman Barnas

 

Look at the list of makers the school has produced over the years.

Teaching and making are far different professions...a good maker may not be a good teacher....however a bad maker has nothing to teach.  The track record of the American violin making schools is excellent.

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I had a chance to visit this facility when I was traveling around Italy in July. It's in an amazing old apartment building, last belonging to some sort of noble clergymen or politician, I forget which. Perhaps the proper word for this building is palace? It has a giant courtyard which connects to a large patch of wilderness in the back, it was impressive.

Either way, the school takes up about 1/4 of the building and is spread amongst 6 or 7 smaller rooms. I was given the tour by Massimo Lucchi, who is in charge, and we discussed the program at length. The question of who the teacher would be was never really resolved, it sounded like there would be visiting teachers and they would change from term to term. Also he hoped to develop a system where the more advanced students would teach the beginning students in some instances. He said they could fit a total of 10 students, and that they had 2 confirmed students who were to begin in September. Mr. Lucchi stressed that there would be a focus on bow restoration and rehair, and if the students' ability allowed, bow making. This was how they hoped to set themselves apart from all the other schools. He also admitted that a lot of things were still up in the air and they would figure it out as they went along...

 

Let me clarify that I am not against this school, I think here in Cremona feel the lack of a school where you study violin making only, without the "distractions" of other subjects not related.

That is the main problem of the International School of Violin-Making of Cremona that everyone knows and that I have attended many years ago which, however, has the undeniable advantage of the very popular cost (only state taxes).

In my opinion the Academia Cremonensis, if managed well, is undoubtedly an excellent initiative and the costs, though high, not too different from other private schools around the world, as you have highlighted.

I just hope they do more clarity on the faculty, to be free from the inevitable criticism that may damage them.

The wonderful palace is named "Palazzo Mina Bolzesi" dating back to 1815, one of the finest in the city, which belongs to the bishop.

 

Davide

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Also he hoped to develop a system where the more advanced students would teach the beginning students in some instances. 

 

 

At first glance this might seem questionable, but I think it would be a great idea. Or, at least worth trying.  After all, violin schools where all the students from first year to last are in the same room is about the closest thing we have in the world today to the old so-called "one-room schoolhouses" which did a pretty fine job.  IMO, it is not necessarily the beginning students who would benefit as much as the more advanced students; but the beginners would in time have their turn.  I have been promoting bringing back the one room school house approach for a long time, if for no other reason than it would cause the older kids to gain some self esteem since they would be looked up to by the younger kids, and it would offer needed reinforcement.  Apparently, there are some experts in the educational field who have the same ideas.   

 

I don't know how Mr. Lucchi envisions doing this in a fool-proof way, but we all know that in classes we continually ask each other questions when the teacher isn't around.  The experience of having to answer questions—putting things in our own words, and being corrected when we give bad information—is a valuable process.  If it was structured it might be even more effective; I don't think we'd want the "blind leading the blind."

 

I don't see much wrong with trying to include sufficient bow repair and re-hairing training.  Although bow making too might be a little much.  

 

All this fits with my curiosity about how to improve the teaching/learning process, so thanks for posting it, Joshua.

 

In all seriousness I wonder if Dale Carnegie shouldn't be taught too, if a school wants to put out successful makers: "How to Win Friends and Influence People."   :)

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One does not need to graduate from one of these programs to be successful and prosperous - one needs to work hard and keep learning. Keeping an open mind, finding opportunities, and knowing what you don't know are important qualities to have if you wish to progress. A violin school degree does not guarantee longevity in the craft, but it certainly can help get you started.

that being said, when I was at the Chicago School, it had a very low retention and graduation rate. Some of the most successful folks were people who left the program early to pursue other opportunities - Kelvin was in my class and left a semester before I did to work for Greg Alf.

The Chicago School of that era did a very good job teaching the fundamentals of making - having at least one very dedicated teacher in Becky, but needed improvement on more advanced concepts. There was only spirit varnish, weak set up instruction, nothing on repair or restoration and very little connection to the very vibrant Chicago violin business and music scene. I understand that the school is now not-for-profit, Tschu Ho has less to do with the program and new programs are being offered.

There are also plenty of examples of folks who never attended a formal school and are at the top of this field!

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Good points Eric,

Don't you think a three year program would be great with only one year of making, and two years of set-up, restoration, bow set-up and bow restoration? This would teach students real world skills to both make a living, and to take care of the beautiful instruments that are now in the hands of their elders. I think it would also take the emphasis off of them being the next Stradivari, and where it belongs; learning from, and respecting what came before. If making was the first year, they could continue making off hours and I would bet the quality of the making would end up better in the three years, not worse.

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Jerry,

That sounds really sensible. There is too much emphasis on making when the fact is that most graduates of a violin making school probably won't end up as only makers. They need real world skills that will help them actually make a living as they navigate their careers. In a city like Chicago they could also send students out to intern in working shops to get a taste of the reality of the violin business, something most violin school students don't understand well. It might also help them get work after they graduate.

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I started this thread to get opinions about shortening the length of school courses, but some interesting things have been said which point to other considerations.  For example, WHEN things are taught or stressed might make a difference in to success;  and HOW they are taught or reinforced could make a difference.

 

Thanks to Eric and Jerry for discussing some possible approaches.  Since almost everyone who has commented says graduating from a school still leaves us lacking, with plenty left to learn and develop, a reordering of school programs to favor the general skills needed for the business side might give a graduate a "quicker start out of the blocks."  We certainly all know—if it doesn't describe us—makers who don't get off to a good start and eventually back off or give up.

 

If we say we want to teach people to make the best violins possible, that's one way, but if we say we want to teach people to be successful shop owners, that might work even better.  The two don't have to be exclusive, though.

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