Students learn the traditional methods of old Italian violin making, using both modern and traditional tools. Instruction is highly individualized. Each day includes a brief, informal lecture by instructor Michael Darnton. The rest of the time he circulates among all participants as they work on their own instruments to provide guidance, answer questions, demonstrate techniques, and troubleshoot. Others are welcome to listen in as he helps a student with some aspect of the violin making process. In addition, each week, every participant gets a 30-minute individual session with Michael to discuss any violin making topic of his or her choice. This flexible structure allows participants to work independently at their own pace and serves them equally well whether they are beginning, intermediate, or advanced instrument makers. Beginners must get approval from the workshop organizer in order to attend.
Major stages of violin making addressed during the workshops include:
- Outline and purfling, rough arching
- Final arching, graduation, f-holes, bass bar
- Carving the neck and scroll, setting the neck, and setup
Other topics covered include tool making, sharpening, and use; choosing a model and designing the templates and forms; aesthetic considerations of the outline and corners, purfling, f-holes and scrolls; and tonal effects of arching, graduation and setup.
Note that participants are encouraged to come with work at any stage of completion.
The violin making workshop is held very year in June. There are three one-week sessions running Monday through Friday; students may register for one, two, or all three sessions. See this year’s dates.
Workshop hours are 8:00 am to 5:00 pm with a lunch break at noon. The facilities are open in the evenings and on weekends for participants who wish to continue working on their own.