What do you learn in Violin School?


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9 minutes ago, FiddleDoug said:

Your idea of a basic skill set may be quite different from what a violin making school considers to be a basic skill set. One thing that I'm pretty sure of is that you'll be starting from the ground up, having to prove you skill to the teachers (to their satisfaction, not yours) at every step along the way. In those schools it will be pretty much "their way, or the highway".

I don't think that would be a bad thing at all, based on the photos the OP posted. I will suggest that the first thing he will need to learn is how to "see"... like being able to see the differences between what he finds acceptable, and what is acceptable in the fiddlemaking world.

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3 hours ago, GerardM said:

I know if I slow down I can produce a good looking instrument, but it would not be of an excellent sound quality.

No amount of extra care to the appearance will ever, EVER hurt the sound.  

It is deceptively difficult to make a great-looking fiddle.  I started "slowing down" and being more picky about a year ago, and 4 instruments later, I'm still not working at the level I want to be.  It's not because I can't see what I'm doing wrong; it's because these things take a lot of practice and a lot of time.  So my advice to you is: make each violin as beautiful as you possibly can, even if it seems like a waste of time.  This way, once you have a better sense of how to make a good sounding violin, your workmanship will *hopefully* have caught up.  

The more you focus in, the less satisfied you will be.  

"I do not always play in tune, I just fix it quicker than anyone else." -Jascha heifetz

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55 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

Nothing is "fully covered" in violinmaking school. Why? Because three years isn't nearly enough to know everything that is important to know.

I've been in the business for about 50 years now, and am still learning. (Of course, one possible explanation is that I have reached the age where I am forgetting things faster than I can learn them, so it is an illusion I am learning anything new). :lol:

I'm a great believer in the adage: "if you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room".

 

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11 hours ago, GerardM said:

A bit bitchy Marty. I never suggested violin school was no damm good. Having trained to make furniture which included veneering and inlay work, constructing curved staircases and matching handrails etc etc. So turning my hand to violin making was not a huge step. The fact is it’s not difficult to make a violin. However how do you make a great sounding violin that would stand up to a Stradivarius or Guarneri? Meany years and a great number of instruments later you may achieve it. SO to get back to my original question WOULD I benefit from a three year course at violin school seeing as I can produce a good looking instrument for me it’s another piece of furniture. If you make a violin shaped object IT will sound like a violin, NOT a great sounding violin but a violin nevertheless. I have no interest in restoration work. Finally IF violin school only gives you the skill sett to produce instruments, I already have the skills. So I would imagine I would not gain a great deal. If you can work with wood to a high standard then you can turn your hand to other things. I would guess Stradivarius could produce quality furniture if he had been asked. Also I’m NOT belittling violin makers just for the record we all share the same hand skills just apply them to different shaped objects. This turned out a bit of a rant but i hope I have got my point across.

There are a lot of factors in making a violin that would stand up to a Stradivarius or Guarneri.  Age and quality of the wood, attention to detail, the ground coat, the varnish, has the instrument been played every day?  The skill to match the genius of Stradivari, Amati or Guarneri?  They have held experiments where blindfolded violin experts, musicians and great makers while a Strad or Guarneri was played, then a modern instrument was played and the listeners couldn't identify the old Cremona violins from the modern made ones.  Like I said, violin school alone isn't going to give you what you are looking for.  Example...Greg Bearden in St. Louis went to violin making school in Chicago.  But he didn't apprentice in a reputable shop under a master violin maker.  What was his fate?  Repairing instruments.  That's all he does.  He doesn't make violins.

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12 minutes ago, ShadowStrad said:

 Example...Greg Bearden in St. Louis went to violin making school in Chicago.  But he didn't apprentice in a reputable shop under a master violin maker.  What was his fate?  Repairing instruments.  That's all he does.  He doesn't make violins.

You make that sound like a fate worse than death! 

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1 hour ago, Rue said:

Keep in mind too, that you will only take away, from school/apprenticeship, as much as you are wanting, or willing, to take away.

I've met a lot of closed-minded, or even adversarial, students that don't want to be taught.  Then they walk away from a class NOT having learned much, and then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy...that school was a waste of their time.  For some reason they don't understand that they, and not the class and not the instructor, were the main issue.

What kind of creature is that sitting on your tree branch?

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I am self taught, never had the chance to get to violin making school (none in this country) or apprenticeship (again only handfull makers in the whole country). I managed to get to level when my instruments are well received by musicians as well as experts in the field (I build mandolins). I studied math and IT instead of studying woodwork.

I think my biggest asset was precision and well trained eye from geometry classes. And that's what you should train whether VM school is the right place I don't know but you can start right now by spending hours of studying old valuable instruments even from good online picture libraries, and read what experienced old makers posted about them. Read Hargrave's articles etc... See Davide Sora videos...

You should get at  least one decent drawing of real valuable violin and build exactly to specs with tight tolerances. When I work this usually means to the thickness of pencil line (sharp one). Kind of like engineer would read the blueprints. You can follow the http://www.makingtheviolin.com/ . There are decent drawings on the website and templates plus most building instrutions are very good, very much like you would get at VM school.

If you can work to really tight tolerances your chances of selling are MUCH higher. Because with tolerances you arching and graduations will become better and thus tone will improve.

For finish you can buy good products designed for violin makers and follow their instruction.

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1 hour ago, Bodacious Cowboy said:

You make that sound like a fate worse than death! 

I had to listen to him complain over and over again in his workshop about his fate in life.  Complaint after complaint.  What was once a great and highly respected violin shop has been reduced to barely hanging on.

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1 hour ago, PhilipKT said:

PORCUPINE!

 

ITS WHATS FOR DINNER!

:o

You have just invoked The Curse of the Mocked Porcupine. 

It was nice knowing you...:(

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...unless, of course, you invoke the counter-curse within the following 12-hours.

Activating the counter-curse involves arugula, bok choy, and sticks. The sticks must be pernumbuco. You will also need some silver and a small bonfire...

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The best thing I have learned in violin making school it's not a skill, but the relationship between the makers. I might not become a good luthier, but someone else will be.  

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6 hours ago, Rue said:

...unless, of course, you invoke the counter-curse within the following 12-hours.

Activating the counter-curse involves arugula, bok choy, and sticks. The sticks must be pernumbuco. You will also need some silver and a small bonfire...

Porcupines are just walking chopsticks...very pointy chopsticks.

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6 hours ago, Rue said:

...unless, of course, you invoke the counter-curse within the following 12-hours.

Activating the counter-curse involves arugula, bok choy, and sticks. The sticks must be pernumbuco. You will also need some silver and a small bonfire...

BTW, for our second anniversary I had a bowmaker friend make us a set of chopsticks out of a couple bow sticks. They are beautiful, with silver lapping... we even used them a few times before they went into the display cabinet. So, yes, our sticks ARE pernambuco.

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19 hours ago, GerardM said:

 Thanks GeorgeH you have understood the point I was trying to make. Experienced hands don’t necessarily make a top sounding violin, so would attending a violin school give you these skills. I am inclined to think it’s a bit like when I finished my apprenticeship, in theory I have everything I need to make things from wood. But it’s only after several years honing these skills that you improve. A bit like when you pass your driving test, it’s only more driving that gives you the experience to become a better driver.

I think you should contact the school, tell them of your experience and see what they advise, what they have to offer.. What the syllabus is.. I personally think you know a whole lot of it, 3 years will be a waste of time. Try getting into the last year by doing an exam to show your skills. Talk to expert luthiers, show them your violins, get their feedback, it will be most valuable and practical way to learn and perfect your craft. 

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1 hour ago, Rachell66 said:

I think you should contact the school, tell them of your experience and see what they advise, what they have to offer.. What the syllabus is.. I personally think you know a whole lot of it, 3 years will be a waste of time. Try getting into the last year by doing an exam to show your skills. Talk to expert luthiers, show them your violins, get their feedback, it will be most valuable and practical way to learn and perfect your craft. 

Interesting what nonsense people who have never set foot in a violin-making school postulate

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1 hour ago, jacobsaunders said:

Interesting what nonsense people who have never set foot in a violin-making school postulate

Whatever Jacob, I am getting really tired of this. Can you please keep these comments to yourself? You don't actually need to step into school to know to pick up a phone and ask for advice. I really enjoy coming on this forum but comments like these, and inappropriate comments are really ruining it for me and others. Noone is interested. 

I really don't understand how educated people with years of experience of this kind of highly skilled work can behave this silly. 

I come here to learn, I might write something that you don't agree with. Please, by all means, correct me, respectfully. 

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Nothing wrong with @Rachell66's suggestion. 

I have never set foot in a violin-making school either, but I will postulate that there are other first-year students there that have significant and well-honed wood-working skills like the OP's. I would also postulate that there would be plenty to learn about making violins in the first year that should not be skipped, even by an experienced wood-worker.

To paraphrase an old saying, making a soufflé is more than just breaking eggs.

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29 minutes ago, Rachell66 said:

Whatever Jacob, I am getting really tired of this. Can you please keep these comments to yourself? You don't actually need to step into school to know to pick up a phone and ask for advice. I really enjoy coming on this forum but comments like these, and inappropriate comments are really ruining it for me and others. Noone is interested. 

I really don't understand how educated people with years of experience of this kind of highly skilled work can behave this silly. 

I come here to learn, I might write something that you don't agree with. Please, by all means, correct me, respectfully. 

If you were to actually enrol in a violin-making school, you would lightly meet an assortment of different characters with various backgrounds. You will also most lightly meet people who think of themselves as “first class students” because of some perceived advantage from their CV to date. Within a short period you will find that there are some 16year old s, who hardly know that they're born yet, who are just as good, if not better. If you go to violin-making school as an autodidact, who thinks he can do everything already, and just needs to brush up one one aspect or other, you could well succeed in leaving unchanged.

I will decide if my comments are “appropriate” or not

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Rachelle,

I think that the problem is- "I personally think you know a whole lot of it, 3 years will be a waste of time.".

I have never been to "violin school", but I do have quite a few years attending restoration workshops. From what I'm seeing of his work, he's probably not qualified to test out of the first two years. I think that he also has somewhat unrealistic views of expectations and his talents. He comments- "The last two they (his friends) commented on how well they were sounding when compared to the earlier models. ". That doesn't say much, as he comments that his first one was pretty bad, and the next two were only a bit better. Perhaps a comparison to a $200 Chinese violin might be a better test.

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