Violin Making & Repair

Violin Making & Repair (VM) at NBSS is one of the few full-time instrument making programs in the United States. Students, alumni, and faculty regularly receive international recognition for the craftsmanship and tonality of their instruments.

The VM curriculum provides a solid foundation in instrument making and an introduction to the art and science of stringed instrument restoration. Over the course of this three-year program, you’ll build five violins, a viola, and a bowed instrument of your choice. The program follows the highest standards of the craft and teaches repair, restoration, and set-up of stringed instruments. During your studies, you can expect to:

  • Develop woodworking and hand-tool skills.
  • Gain a solid understanding of the classical construction of instruments of the violin family.
  • Acquire technical drawing skills.
  • Make varnishes and develop finishing techniques.
  • Complete a series of repairs to instruments in the violin family.

As with all of the traditional trades taught a NBSS, violin making and repair is learned through hands-on work. The bench rooms are well equipped and include a library and drawing area.


In addition to the Full-Time program, we offer a number of fine woodworking courses through our Continuing Education Department. View all CE courses here.


Violin Making & Repair Faculty

Roman Barnas
ROMAN BARNAS

Roman is originally from Zakopane, Poland, and began making his first violins at age 14, when he attended the Secondary School of Fine Arts. He studied music and violin making for five years at the Paderewski Academy of Music in Poznan, Poland, eventually receiving his Master of Fine Arts.

Roman came to the U.S. in 1996, where he worked for more than nine years specializing in violin restoration at Psarianos Violins in Troy, Michigan. He has studied with Hans Nebel and Boyd Paulsen, and is a regular participant in the Oberlin Violin Making Workshop. Among Roman’s past commissions was a replacement Gaspar da Salo viola for the late Nathan Gordon, a former Concertmaster of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Additionally, one of Roman's violins earned him a Certificate of Merit for tone for at the 2010 Violin Society of America violin-making competition. See Roman's website for examples of his work.

GUEST LECTURERS & INSTRUCTORS

In addition to the regular faculty, we often have established artisans visit the School to lead workshops and special classes. Some of our guest lecturers include:

  • Andrew Ryan
  • Philippe Raynaud
  • Paul Wiessmeyer
  • David Hawthorne
  • Marco Coppiardi
  • Christopher White VM ’88
  • Kevin Kelly VM ’92
  • David Polstein VM ’89

Curriculum

Your first project teaches you the basic techniques for violin construction. The first-year curriculum focuses on the proper use and care of hand tools, the properties of wood, and critical specifications of traditional instrument patterns. You’ll make two violins during this time.

In your second and third years, you’ll begin to develop varnishing and set-up skills. This includes cutting bridges, fitting sound posts, planing fingerboards, and properly using glues and clamps. You’ll make additional instruments in your second and third years.

Violin and bow makers serve as guest instructors throughout the program. You’ll gain a wide perspective on the various approaches to violin making. Boston has a well-established luthier community, which you’ll often explore during regular outings. Field trips include visiting violin shops, attending previews of stringed instrument auctions at Skinners Fine Auction, and viewing the musical instrument collection at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

Hours & Tuition

HOURS

  • Students are admitted in September and February.
  • The maximum enrollment is 12 students.
  • Classes meet 8:00 am- 3:00 pm, Monday - Friday, September through June.
  • The course length is three, ten-month academic years (40 weeks per year, 120 weeks or 3900 class hours***).
  • Students who complete the program receive a Diploma of Violin Making & Repair.
Tuition & COsts
  • Tuition is $25,600* yearly totaling $76,800** with the option of making 30 monthly installments of $2,560.
  • The estimated cost of hand tools is $2,800.
  • The estimated cost of materials for violins is $1,000 per year (totalling $3,000 for the program), billed in monthly installments of $100.

*The tuition rate is for students entering North Bennet Street School between September 2017 and June 2018.

**We reserve the right to increase tuition in the second and subsequent years of a course. If we do increase tuition for a course in subsequent years, that increase will not exceed 7.5% of the previous year’s tuition. Should we increase tuition, we must give you a minimum of ninety (90) days written notice before the effective date of the increase, and we will create a new enrollment agreement.

*** Class hours equals clock hours.

Admissions

The Violin Making & Repair program has both Fall and Spring start dates. The maximum enrollment is 12 students. It’s a competitive program and fills up quickly, so we strongly suggest you apply as early as possible. We look for applicants that have good woodworking skills and devotion to the craft.

Gainful Employment

Graduates of the program are well-prepared to start work in the industry as violin makers or repair technicians. Since we began the program, graduates have found employment in shops all over the world. As their work experience and technique develop, many NBSS alumni go on to work in renowned shops as instrument builders and restorers. Others start their own businesses as luthiers.

Learn more about violin making and repair careers here.

View the School's gainful employment report for Violin Making & Repair here.

Note: Due to privacy concerns, on-time completion rates are withheld when fewer than ten students in a graduating class received Title IV, or "federal," financial aid during their enrollment at NBSS. Because our programs are small, this information may be withheld or appear low in any given year.

Typical earnings rates are based on the earnings of our graduates as reported to the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) by the Social Security Administration (SSA), and therefore may not be an accurate reflection of potential earnings in a given field.

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Questions?

Contact Rob O'Dwyer, Director of Admissions, at 617-227-0155 x111 or admissions@nbss.edu.

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