Violin Making Courses
Violin Making Courses held twice per year.
Jim Robinson from NH,
Zoran Stilin from AZ,
Two weeks in Nottingham, NH: July 26th to Aug 5th. 2016 Spaces are limited so call early to reserve a place. For NH Call 603-679-1012 messages checked daily.
Two weeks in Tucson, AZ January to February. 2016 Spaces are limited so call early to reserve a place. For AZ Call 1-520-327-4062 or 1-520-907-6519 Dates at this location are subject to change as dictated by concert engagements.
A list of required tools and materials can be sent to you with registration confirmation. Workshop participants will have access to advice regarding the purchase of necessary tools and materials.
Class per week $800
A $100 deposit per week of instruction will be required. For example, if you sign up for two weeks, the deposit is $200. The deposit is non-refundable.
Each week, you will meet 5 days, from 8 a.m. to lunch (12 to1) classes resume from 1:00 until 4:30 p.m. each day, with work under the guidance of Jim Robinson and Zoran Stilin .
You will have an opportunity to work on your own in the shop from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
In the news!
In Nottingham: Local man passes on the art of making violins by hand
Jim Robinson, 47, who has been a woodworker for more than 27 years, said he became bored with making cabinets, which are just boxes, and found a new calling in making violins. He eventually established Renaissance Strings in his shop at 181 Stage Road, located off Route 152.
"There are no straight lines on violins - everything has a curve," he said. "This is much more challenging."
Robinson and fellow crafter Zoran Stillin, of Arizona, both studied under master violin maker Karl Roy, who now lives in Barrington but for 20 years directed the Bavarian State School for Violin-making in Mittenwald, Germany.
Roy, who has retired from violin making, remains involved by appraising instruments and occasionally stops by the shop in Nottingham.
"He is so excited that Zoran and I took this chore on," Robinson said, adding they are continuing the 200-plus year Mittenwald tradition of handcrafting violins and passing on the love of the trade.
Robinson said he identifies himself as a master craftsman since master violin makers are guild-trained, which is a system not found in the U.S. Nonetheless, they try to impart the same traditional craft.
"That is our big thing. We try to have it as traditional as possible," he said, adding that while some steps can use mechanical equipment to make the process somewhat easier, they still rely on hand tools for the bulk of the work.
"We teach you everything from start to finish," he said.
Anyone can benefit from learning the craft of making a handmade violin or cello - from amateurs to professionals, he said.
"We take them all," he said. "All we ask is for a passion for the instrument."
Eight participants, from as far away as California, Washington, Nevada, Texas and Illinois, came to a 10-day workshop that ended July 31.
The next is set for January in Tuscon, Ariz., where Stillin has operated Zoran's Violin Shop since 1992. He also plays the cello with the Tuscon Symphony Orchestra.
Robinson said he started the workshops with Stillin after people kept asking them how to make violins.
"We adjust the teaching styles to the individual," he said.
First-year students Jim Spicer, of Elliot, Maine, and Dave Hallowell, of Portsmouth, said they were able to empathize with each other and were amazed at the skill of their fellow students at the workshop.
Spicer, 63, a retired Maine state employee, and Hallowell, 62, a semi-retired consultant, both said their past experience with woodworking only involved straight lines, unlike the curves needed for violins.
"The tolerance is even more demanding," Hallowell said, adding that he hoped to learn to repair violins, but discovered the first step was to know how to make one.
Both were well on their way by the end of the two-week session. They said they plan to stop by Nottingham for a day or two of more instruction before the next workshop.
"We're learning a heck of a lot," Spicer said.
He called honing his hand-eye coordination skills the biggest challenge.
This is the fourth class for George Booth, 51, of Hampstead, who has not been able to finish a violin, but has three under way.
"It gets more enjoyable. I don't know if it gets easier," he said.
He plans to make violins as a hobby once he retires from his cryogenic business, he said.
Heide Li, 36, of Pasadena, Calif., who has been playing the violin and viola for about 25 years, said she's eager to hear how the violin she crafted sounds, but admits she's a little terrified.
"I just finished my first," Li said. "Once I varnish it, I'll let you know."
Li, who has been coming to these workshops for the past four years, said she already started her second violin, which should be easier since she knows how it fits together. She works in computer support.
Bill Alter, of Las Vegas, Nev., said this is his third workshop in which he's been learning how to make a violin "from beginning to end."
"It's amazing how you go through all the steps and out comes a violin," he said.
It usually takes 10 weeks for an amateur to make a first violin, although it took him an extra week, he said.
"The first one is more time consuming, but you're learning the craft," Alter said.
This year, he is working on a cello, which follows the same steps, but will result in a larger instrument.
"Hopefully, it will be financially rewarding," Alter said, adding this is an investment in himself, especially since the wood for a cello could cost up to $2,000.
The undertaking also requires a workshop and the proper tools, which can be expensive because they are specialized, Alter said, adding: "It's not a kitchen table project."
181 Stage Road