Bass Set-up & Bass Restoration Fundamentals
Bass Set-up: I have had the pleasure of knowing Jay VandeKopple for about two decades; first as a colleague, and more recently as co-facilitator and director of the Oberlin/VSA Bass Workshops. Jay was instrumental in forming that group, and has done an admirable job of running it for the last several sessions. Jay’s background in music, mathematics and acoustics makes him uniquely qualified to assess and adjust the tone and playability of string instruments, especially the string bass, his own personal instrument. He is an excellent teacher with many years experience, and approaches his instructing in a hands-on, no-judgement manner. He is extremely organized, a trait which has served the Oberlin workshop (and previously, the Catgut Acoustical Society) well. Personality-wise, he is both decisive and likeable, a rare and desirable combination in an instructor.
Bass Restoration Fundamentals: Robert McIntosh possesses a unique set of skills which makes him an ideal mentor in double bass repair and restoration. No one I’m aware of has a better understanding of the engineering and structural elements that make a bass work. He has a broad background in architecture, woodworking, construction, music and lutherie, along with decades of hands-on experience. Having worked beside him (as facilitators) at the Oberlin/VSA Bass Workshop, I can attest to his effective, non-egotistical style of communicating with both students and peers. Robbie has single-handedly invented methods of double bass restoration which are now in use in shops all over the world. I cannot imagine a better instructor for the UNH Violin Institute in the area of bass repair and restoration.
Arnold Schnitzer ⋅ AES Fine Instruments, NY
My first week at the Violin Institute changed my life. A life-long strings player, I’d started working at a violin shop months before, doing basic set-ups and often learning as I went. When the opportunity to learn in a classroom setting presented itself, I jumped at the chance. Under the tutelage of Francis Morris and Michael Daddona, what had begun as an occupational curiosity bloomed into a full-blown obsession. Mike and Francis were patient, informative and personable. Their course was masterfully laid out, comprehensive and I found myself experiencing an excitement not unlike the early pangs of falling in love. I am beyond grateful for the skills gained, interests piqued and friendships forged through this course. I can’t speak highly enough of both Francis and Mike, their expertise and their talent for teaching. Through example they instilled a respect for the craft and the eagerness to enter a lifetime of learning.
MorganEve Swain ⋅ McCarten Violins, Rhode Island
String Repair Shop
While working as a string repair employee for a company deeply involved with school music programs, I was approached about rehairing and repairing some bows for a particular school. Not being familiar with the processes I purchased a book and attempted to rehair a bow. After too much time and a poor result, I realized I needed to look elsewhere. Having seen the ads for the UNH program I spoke with my boss and expressed my interest in attending pointing out that this would be another service we could offer our customers. He saw this potential and worked out an agreement with me to split the tuition, which I repaid with small deductions from ensuing paychecks. I also collected my regular salary while 'working' at the UNH class. The first year I got involved with the rehair process but also developed an intense curiosity about bows. Over the years, my boss saw the benefit of the program and I continued to study at UNH expanding to repairs and eventually making. The skills learned at UNH improved my company’s business prospects but now, in retirement, I can give my attention to making and selling bows. It is a great transition from a very enjoyable career to a very enjoyable retirement.
Kevin Curry ⋅ New York
As a repair luthier with over twenty years of experience, I can honestly state that the bow rehairing workshop taught by Lynn Hannings was the most incredible and informative week of instruction that I have ever received. Her classroom demonstrations are comprehensible and always followed by one on one instruction that is tailored to each individual. Lynn graciously shares invaluable knowledge that most could never obtain without taking this course. She genuinely cares for the health and happiness of musicians and provides a wonderful model for future bow makers.
David Rhodes ⋅ Fuller's Music, North Carolina
Exceeding Expecations - Developing Career Skills
The UNH Violin Craftsmanship Institute is the right place to go if you are looking to learn the basics, or achieve the highest level of skills training to repair/make a stringed instrument or bow. The expert faculty at the Violin Craftsmanship Institute teach skills exceeding the expectations you would experience at a vocational technology school. At UNH, you will find the right combination of high-level standards for career professionals and individual attention for novices. Both students who simply want to learn basics of string instrument repair & bow rehairing or professionals advancing their abilities, develop valuable career skills under the patient guidance of the instructors. Any level of learner will gain practical work experience under the true master instructors at the Institute.
Charles Wolf ⋅ All Four Strings, CA
While it goes without saying that Paul Wiessmeyer is a master luthier (every piece of wood he touches is transformed perfectly), he also is a gifted teacher. He presents his lesson plans clearly and generously devotes equal time to each of his students.
Joe Fili ⋅ New Jersey
Frog Making & Bow Finishing
I have had the good fortune of studying Frog Making and Bow Finishing with George Rubino at UNH. George runs his classes in a very organized and systematic way with numerous demonstrations throughout the class, which include proper use of tools to ensure the best outcome. Frog Making follows a systematic outline that helps students avoid making mistakes by doing things in the wrong order, as it is very precise and detailed work. Emphasis is placed on functionality as well as aesthetics. In Finishing Bows, we learned a systematic approach to graduating the stick to optimize the playability of the finished bow. Students entering this class know how to make bows but Finishing Bows fills in gaps at the end of the process that improves the students’ work greatly. George also shares relevant stories from his experience that give insight to the career of bow making. Each year I have been very happy to see my work improve dramatically after returning home. I recommend the UNH bow making classes to anyone interested in learning this craft and career. In particular, I recommend George’s classes to those who have advanced through the beginning and intermediate stages of the process.
Kirk McLendon ⋅ North Carolina
Even though I am a professional musician, most of us in the field have very little knowledge about bow rehairing. I thought it would be useful to know more, and signed up on a luthier’s recommendation. Little did I know that our “Prof,” Lynn Hannings, would make this very challenging work so interesting and enjoyable. She is a master teacher with her enormous knowledge and years of experience, but also in the manner she organized and paced the class. With our class size – small enough for individual attention yet large enough to learn for fellows’ trials and errors – we received a great deal of information, not just by seeing her do it, but by guided hands-on practice at our workbenches. Lynn and her assistant were very helpful and encouraging to each of us, no matter what our levels (very mixed) – they clearly wanted us to succeed. Lynn’s love for this bow work was infectious, and I went home not just with a very useful skill and knowledge, but the “bug bit me” to do this – and my workbench has seen quite a few student bows since July. Thank you for having this Institute, and for having master teachers like Lynn Hannings sharing their gifts with us! Note: Sadly, Dr. Pinoci passed away this year (April 2018). We were fortunate to have her as a participant at the Institute. She will be missed.
Dr. Karen Pinoci ⋅ New Jersey
It was a great experience in all respects. There were participants from every background and part of the country, each with a different reason to be there. The instructor somehow made it all work by setting the highest possible standards for precision while taking a flexible and supportive approach to helping participants go as far as they could in achieving that standard. It opened up a world of understanding that I probably could not have gained any other way.
Bill Duncan ⋅ New Hampshire
A New and Successful Career
The Violin Craftsmanship Institute was a life-changer for me. It opened the door to a new and successful career. The instructors are top-notch professionals in their field and they are committed and capable teachers. My four summers at the University of New Hampshire were instrumental in starting my training as a luthier. I am indebted to Lynn Hannings and Horst Kloss for their guidance and professionalism.
Carolyn Foulkes ⋅ Perrin and Associates Fine Violins - Baltimore, MD