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Jerry Pasewicz

Immersion course

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Again, a bit of 'over-sell'... :ph34r:

 

From the FB comments...if I didn't know better...I'd think that after one month...I will have made a violin that I could sell for $75,000.

 

The reality is that it's value - if it's even playable...would be more like $200.

 

Does the potential 'student' realize that?  That the $5000 investment in room and board, tools and materials will have absolutely no financial payback?

 

If JustLearing stops selling this as a school...and stops coming up with figures out of a hat...and JUST sells it as a nice experience...then that's perfectly fine.

 

The woodworking class I took last spring...where I carved my own fish...would be a very similar (if shorter) experience.  My carved fish is NOT valued to an equivalent of what the top wildlife wood carvers can charge... :rolleyes:

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Again, a bit of 'over-sell'... :ph34r:

 

From the FB comments...if I didn't know better...I'd think that after one month...I will have made a violin that I could sell for $75,000.

 

The reality is that it's value - if it's even playable...would be more like $200.

 

Does the potential 'student' realize that?  That the $5000 investment in room and board, tools and materials will have absolutely no financial payback?

 

If JustLearing stops selling this as a school...and stops coming up with figures out of a hat...and JUST sells it as a nice experience...then that's perfectly fine.

 

The woodworking class I took last spring...where I carved my own fish...would be a very similar (if shorter) experience.  My carved fish is NOT valued to an equivalent of what the top wildlife wood carvers can charge... :rolleyes:

Just out of curiosity, what's the typical selling prices of violins made from new graduates  coming out of traditional violin schools?

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Just out of curiosity, what's the typical selling prices of violins made from new graduates  coming out of traditional violin schools?

I misspoke.

 

I should have asked:  What's the typical selling prices of violins made by new graduates  coming out of traditional violin schools?

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I'm inclined to a live and let live , to each their own, type of thinking and see nothing morally wrong with the idea.....

But...

Culturally speaking , is it really a "school" ? I thought schools offer diplomas and a foundational approach to curriculum.

Is violin making actually taught here? or is it more of a kit assembly course? I could go on....

The main issue for me is that there seems to be a element of appropriation and entitlement, that is perhaps self defeating. By accepting and acting upon the critiques offered here, and perhaps asking for suggestions ,direction, they could raise the level of knowledge of the field, promote actual schools, and still be able to offer a seminar or institute designed around assembling a kit that might fill a certain need for some folks ....and at the same time not attract the sort of derision currently being expressed.

I simply can not accept that because this is the current business model....to advertise under false pretenses ect....That there is no room for critique..

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I misspoke.

 

I should have asked:  What's the typical selling prices of violins made by new graduates  coming out of traditional violin schools?

Thanks for the clarification, I would think the other way would stain the bench.

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If JustLearing stops selling this as a school...and stops coming up with figures out of a hat...and JUST sells it as a nice experience...then that's perfectly fine.

Hi Rue,

I believe the FB post which you are referencing is by Mr. Roy, not JustLearning...actually, it's by a 3rd party "sharing it" with The Violin Guild. Could have just been a private message from Mr. Roy to friends or clients who have then shared it.

DGSR☺

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i have been holding my tongue about this subject given that it is literally pretty close to home and I know some of the people involved but there are so many problems with this sort of thing that I can not remain completely silent. While there is certainly nothing wrong with people who make violins as a hobby or fix stuff that they own for fun or resale there really IS something wrong with untrained people presenting themselves to the public as members of a legitimate profession. All of these summer camp level programs give the participants a false sense of their abilities and blur the line between professional craftspeople and amateur enthusiasts. They also tend to perpetuate absurd notions such as that if someone plays the violin well that they then know something about violin making.

Taking a course in CPR does not make someone a member of the medical profession and no matter how many babies an ambulance driver delivers he can not become an obstetrician unless he graduates from medical school. All of us who have received professional training at one time were untrained and can remember the misconceptions and false confidence which had to be overcome as we became professionals. Those who have not been trained have no way to recognize the difference.

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Jeffery,

 

Be a man, delete this thread.

Jeffrey may decide to delete or lock the thread, but what on earth does the decision to do so or not, have to do with "being a man"?

 

If what you are objecting to are comments which you think may be unflattering or derisive, but then you yourself make one toward the moderator, does anything about that seem a little strange to you?

 

Jeffrey is not "a man" unless he does as you see fit????

 

Reminds me of the time when someone told Jeffrey to "grow a pair" when they didn't agree with his moderating decisions.

In my opinion, it's coercive talk, in lieu of putting forth some reasonable arguments.

 

There have been some good and reasonable arguments, on both sides, so far.

Have you taken a good look at how your "be a man" argument stacks up?

 

In my opinion, this remains the best violin tech forum on the internet, and I don't know how that can be disassociated with Jeffrey's moderating decisions. 

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i have been holding my tongue about this subject given that it is literally pretty close to home and I know some of the people involved but there are so many problems with this sort of thing that I can not remain completely silent. While there is certainly nothing wrong with people who make violins as a hobby or fix stuff that they own for fun or resale there really IS something wrong with untrained people presenting themselves to the public as members of a legitimate profession. All of these summer camp level programs give the participants a false sense of their abilities and blur the line between professional craftspeople and amateur enthusiasts. They also tend to perpetuate absurd notions such as that if someone plays the violin well that they then know something about violin making.

Taking a course in CPR does not make someone a member of the medical profession and no matter how many babies an ambulance driver delivers he can not become an obstetrician unless he graduates from medical school. All of us who have received professional training at one time were untrained and can remember the misconceptions and false confidence which had to be overcome as we became professionals. Those who have not been trained have no way to recognize the difference.

Very well put Mr. Slobodkin.

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The so called Russian school of violin is what it is for good reason, so others are. 

If I was living in USA I'd likely have signed up to Oberlin for a refresher,
in Ireland I might nip up to Wicklow sometime and quiz Conor on his learnings. 

 

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Ben, one of the things that first attracted me to this business, is that one never needs to stop leaning.

 

Also nothin' wrong with doing what you want to do, and making what you want to make (and I do some of that too).

 

Nothin wrong either with trying to keep up with the latest advances.

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The so called Russian school of violin is what it is for good reason, so others are.

If I was living in USA I'd likely have signed up to Oberlin for a refresher,

in Ireland I might nip up to Wicklow sometime and quiz Conor on his learnings.

You should sign up anyway. I am a bit biased, but I believe Oberlin, directly and indirectly, is responsible for the precipitous rise in the quality of both instrument and bow making in this country over the last decade.

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You should sign up anyway. I am a bit biased, but I believe Oberlin, directly and indirectly, is responsible for the precipitous rise in the quality of both instrument and bow making in this country over the last decade.

I would agree. Though I have never been directly involved in the violin making workshop, or decisions there,  impressive outcomes are pretty hard to deny;

 

A lot of the credit should certainly go to Chris Germain, but also to the Oberlin philosophy that "everybody teaches, everybody learns", which wouldn't happen without the participants, Nor could we get the teachers in that we do, if they didn't consider it an opportunity to learn a little somethin'.

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Here are some thoughts from a slightly different perspective: someone who a decade ago would have considered attending this program. 

 

Violin/bow making is not an easy field to get into. At the time I was looking to do so, I had no idea where to even start. The general consensus was that you go study/apprentice with a violin/bow maker for years, and eventually you come out the other side a maker. I started asking makers about studying with them. Some of those people where people I had known for a few years in various ways, some I had just had a brief conversation or email exchange with, by then end I was just cold calling anyone I could find contact information for. By the time I hit about 30 makers from one side of the country to the other, I was getting pretty discouraged. Some didn't have enough space in their shop for another body, some didn't feel comfortable/interested in teaching, some did not want to take on a beginner, some strongly discouraged me from entering the profession, but the answer from all of them was a resounding "No."

 

A few of them mentioned violin making schools. The only one that I could find in Canada at the time was a guitar making school in Quebec where making a violin was an option, which didn't seem like a good idea. My french to this day still needs some work. The other options were the American schools but cost and time were both factors as I had just finished an undergraduate, and taking on a mountain of debt to move to a different country to study something that I didn't even know if I would enjoy or become any good at was a leap of faith I wasn't prepared to take. 

 

Summer/shorter programs were also mentioned, but many of them with caveats such as "I don't know if that one is still going" or "I'm pretty sure they stopped doing it a few years ago" and turned up a lot of dead ends. Eventually the VSA program at Oberlin was something I came across. While it is much better today, the website I encountered at the time wasn't very helpful/informative. I asked a few of the makers that had told me no about Oberlin, and the take away I got from those conversations was that it is a program where established makers go to refine their skills and share with colleagues, and that it was not for beginners. The UNH program was also mentioned and had an even less inspiring webpage, but they welcomed beginners. 

 

As a quick aside to Nathan, not all summer programs are created equal. I absolutely agree that if you attend a week or a month of summer programs with no previous knowledge, you don't come away a maker, or a luthier who could/should compare themselves to professionals. However, there are plenty of professionals who did get their start that way, and plenty who have been to Oberlin or one or more of the other programs over the years to hone their skills and pick up some valuable information from colleagues they would not otherwise have the opportunity to work down the bench from. Some of the programs are complete wastes of time, some are instructed by people who have no business being instructors, but some of them are extremely valuable to this profession and should not be lumped in with the former. 

 

I got my start at UNH studying bow rehair, repair, and making with Lynn Armour Hannings and George Rubino. I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to study with both of them, and while I have no business suggesting my work is approaching the level of theirs, they have been instrumental in building the foundation I now have on bow repair and making. I know I have a lot to learn from here, but I also know that there are people out there who have received far less training than I who make far greater claims about their work. 

 

There is a good chance that if I was looking for programs to attend now, I would end up at the course this thread is based on. The website is as good or better than some of the others out there for summer programs, the "syllibus" or "syllubus" (depending on which part of the site you look at) details outline the whole program, and going home with a high quality finished instrument is presented as a fact. There is some reference to switching the out what you are working on for a prefab part, but it is downplayed quite well. Yes, build your own Stradivari is boldly claimed, and bookmarked by "Learn the craft of luthier making and create that amazing instrument you will play and cherish forever" and "Your instrument will be comparable to many high end custom violins in the market and you will have created it yourself." To someone with no prior knowledge or experience, the course is sold as one that results in a great violin. It claims that you will not be a professional violin maker at the end of it, but "It is designed to walk you through the process of building a violin and afford you the basic knowledge to continue the art." I read that as "I will be able to go home and make another one, because I have been through the process and have the basic knowledge required to continue on my own." In essence, I can be on my way to starting a career in this field in a fraction of the time one would spend at a violin making school, for a fraction of the cost.

 

While there has been a consensus here that the program offered is essentially "Violin maker's fantasy camp" and the intended audience is retired people, or people with the resources required to take a month away from what they usually do, travel to Maine, and spend roughly $7500 (at minimum) in tuition, room and board, and tools and materials, there are also people out there that would see this as an opportunity to start or switch to a career in violin making. For an initial investment of <$10 000 and a month of time, they went to a program with no previous knowledge, and came home with a professional instrument they largely made on their own. Many modern makers are selling instruments for that amount of money, so essentially the course pays for itself when you go home and sell the instrument. Maybe you took advantage of the prefab parts while at the course, but that was because you only had a month and were going on field trips and concerts, but at home without the distractions you should be able to do one from start to finish in a month or two tops on your own right? I mean, you've already made one so it's going to get faster/easier from there. You bought the $2200 tool package so you don't require any more tools, and the materials for a new instrument can be had for $600-1100, so you invest another $10 000 in materials (because you're going to sell your second violin in a month or two when it's done anyway) and you've got wood to keep you going for the rest of the year, and 9 more instruments to profit from. Doing the math, I've invested $20 000 and by the end of the year if I make 10 (I've already made one in the first month while at the course) and I sell them all for a "conservative" $10 000 a piece because they are professional quality instruments, I made $80 000 in my first year as a violin maker after an initial investment of $20 000. If I went to violin making school, I would still have two more years to go and I would be spending that amount of money instead of making it. 

 

Sorry this got wordy. The point I am making is at a time when getting into this business is difficult and comes with a lot of up front cost, this presents itself as a way to get there faster and cheaper than any of the other options. It compares itself to the other violin schools even if the website adds a disclaimer trying to distance itself from it, the Facebook post Jerry shared makes it sound like you're just throwing away money and learning unnecessary busy work if you go for three years. You come out with a professional instrument, and the knowledge necessary to continue. My takeaway from the information presented is that I could fast track my way into a career as a violin maker. I am glad that I made the decisions I have to get me to where I am today on my journey to eventually becoming someone who could use the word professional in front of bow maker, but I admit I could very well have been sucked in by this and gone down a very different path. 

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Agreed, and I would hate to have this hotel crop up when someone is looking for a violin making school.

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A quote from Don Roy himself: "Payback is the sale of one violin! Please help me spread the word. Thanks, Don."

 

Any questions?

 

Shameful indeed.

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Well that is a good question.

 

Just out of curiosity, what's the typical selling prices of violins made from new graduates  coming out of traditional violin schools?

Working less than a mile from one of the three main schools in the U.S. at a shop that employs many graduates of said school, I can tell you that many graduates of that school who manage to sell instruments post graduation find incredible downward pressure on pricing.  There are far too many trade instruments competing and winning against journeyman instruments.  The more astute maker realizes that to sell instruments, at any price (and maybe break even on the first five sales), they need to quickly to step up their game as quickly as possible.  I sold one instrument right out of school at $3500.  ten years ago.  I sold a recent graduate instrument at $4000 a year ago.  I was the salesperson on the one I made, and the latter was much nicer than anything I made in my first 20 instruments.  I have sold some journeyman instruments at a point where I know that the maker is not going to pay the mortgage from this alone.  It costs money, time, and sweat to get on the map as a maker.  That said, once you complete a program with a sound foundation and you trudge through the dark period, you can make a living.   I do think that any school which cheapens the work of real people working hard in the field by giving away "credentials"  for time served or money paid cheapens the value of the time those who have walked down this road.  4 weeks?  3 years?  I made my career switch 14 years ago, and I still consider myself a journeyman.  I sell what I make and while it helps,  the mortgage is paid by the other hard work I do in my field. 

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Nathan's post #162 does a good job of getting to the root of why so many people are so offended by the way this course is represented. Reading about that course made me think of my attempt to train someone in repair after he had tinkered for many years, then attended a 2 week class on restoration. Is concept of violin repair was so damaged by his self teaching and the course made him feel empowered and confident in his abilities. His boss wanted him to be able to run the string department of a general music store, and I was training him 2 days a week. While I was trying to get him to succeed at basic setup (which was attrocious) he was doing this sort of thing when I left the shop.

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He insisted that these square patches were something that he observed at school and seemed to think that I was trying to marginalize him by forcing him to do more basic work and telling him to throw out what he learned at his 'masterclass' if this is the result. The experience of that class did real damage to his professional prospects. In that respect it is not comparable to claims of 'worlds best cup of coffee' etc... Because people who are interested in doing his work for a living don't get there by doing a crash course and suddenly making 'professional instruments'. A crash course may be useful supplemental education, but isn't a good foundation on its own. Since Maestronet functions as an educational resource for many aspiring luthiers I think it's appropriate that this is addressed here.

I suppose it's also worth mentioning that a professional instrument is something very different to fiddlers than to classical violinists, but I suspect a genuine Strad would not actually be the ideal instrument for the typical fiddler and the venues that they frequent.

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What ARE those patches for?  :wacko:

 

They are a horrifying, misguided attempt to cover surface abrasion from the fine tuners and a bow holder or loose bow in the case.  The one in the upper bout was partially covering some sort of mark that was notched out and filled with epoxy putty before having a giant rectangular patch fit over them.  The patch was so poorly fit and had so much run out that I suck a fingernail under it and lifted and it popped off as shown in the second photo of that patch.  Complete nonsense.  You can also see that the patches were pressed in in a way that caused the arch to distort creating pressure in those areas, but also the square patches create stress points along the edges of the patch.  I don't want to get sidetracked by the sad saga of 'J.B. Frankenstien', as I dubbed that instrument, but this work shows an astonishing number of things that you should never do.  Not only was my critique ignored, but he continued to work on this instrument whenever I was out of the shop proceeding to revarnish the top and reset the neck on his boss's dime.  That instrument cracked under every patch that he installed.  He was absolutely convinced that he knew better, and his 2 week crash course made him qualified to run that shop.  After seeing several of those square patches fit on rentals (after our discussion about J.B Frankenstein) where there was some fine tuner abrasion I realized that it was a lost cause.

 

It's worth mentioning that the course that he attended is run by a respected luthier and I know quality luthiers who have attended courses from this luthier and have good things to say.  In this case, it is the misunderstanding that a crash course in lutherie, with the gaps filled in by the 'common sense' of someone who knows nothing about the craft, is virtually worthless if not actually harmful.  Comparing existing examples of his work before that course, and after, I can say that he gained confidence, not knowledge, and proceeded to do greater harm to instruments that he was trying to repair.  This is kind of a worst case scenario I think, but it can do real damage to other businesses or aspiring luthiers.  On the other hand, I know people who have had good mentors and supplemental classes and have done quite well for themselves as luthiers.  Point is, that things like this should not be presented as something that will get you from beginner to professional in a month or less.  To do so is dishonest and shameful, and should be called out by other professionals in the field.

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