International lutherie schools: All round learning


Peter Somerford speaks to teachers from seven violin making schools to find out the options for young aspiring luthiers

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For students choosing between different violin making schools in Europe and the US, there are plenty of factors to consider. There are basics such as fee levels and whether the institution is public or private. There’s location: do you want to study in a major music city like Chicago, or in a place steeped in violin making tradition like Mirecourt or Cremona, or somewhere surrounded by lakes and mountains such as Brienz or Salt Lake City? And then there’s size: while 20 to 30 students spread over three years is common, the Swiss Violin Making School in Brienz offers only three places a year, whereas the International Violin Making School in Cremona currently has 165 students across eight classes. Given the time constraints, just how much can a school teach in the way of acoustics, materials science, restoration, varnish making, business skills and the application of technology such as CAD (computeraided design) programs and CNC (computerised numerical control) machines? And then there’s the character of the learning, the atmosphere in the workshop between teachers and students, whether the teachers are active professional makers or full-time instructors, and how much time is given to the development of critical thinking, questioning and reflection…

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