The Violin Society of America 2015 Scholarship recipients

Chicago School of Violin Making -

Levi Samuelson

Currently in his third year of school Levi has completed 2 violins, 1 viola and is finishing building a cello. His first violin was displayed at the 2014 VSA convention in Indianapolis, IN. He has also participated in the repair of a bass top, including: cracks, patches, a new bass bar and varnish touch up. This was done after hours at the CSVM with Fredric S. Thompson. Levi is currently building a violin based on a Peter Guarneri of Mantua violin as a home project.

Caitlin Cook

Although she had no previous experience in violin making before attending school, since beginning school, she has built a violin at home through varnishing. Additionally, since attending the intensive set-up and repair trimester, she has cut new bridges and sound posts for several violins and her cello at home. She was able to attend the AFVBM convention in May of 2014 as a student representative and at the VSA convention last September as a volunteer checking instruments and working with the quartet judges.

John Griffin

John has made two violins and a viola at school under the direction of Rebecca Elliott and Fred Thompson. He is in the process of making his third violin and has helped with the restoration of a double bass with several other students. In his repair class he cuts bridges and sound posts, has re-shaped fingerboards, reset fingerboard pitch angles, re-shaped and made new nuts, and has re-shaped and stained necks. He has also done custom color varnish touch-up on the instruments that he has worked on.

Sara Deliberato

Sara was first given the opportunity to go behind the scenes at Terry Carlin’s Violin Shop in Cleveland, OH, where she shadowed her for a couple of weeks in the summer of 2013. She was able to clean, polish and set-up their rental instruments during this time. The following fall she started at CSVM where after a semester she began working at Seman Violins as a receptionist. A few months later she was offered the chance to move to the bench where for the past nine months she has been working on their rental instruments. Working on these instruments, she was able to do tasks such as: gluing seams, wings and top cracks, fixing rib cracks, dressing fingerboards, making new pegs, touching up varnish, sound post adjustments, reshaping nuts and assisting with chinrest and shoulder rest consultations.

Violin Making School of America

Andrew Seelhammer

Andrew has been attending the VMSA for about 2 years and has made 4 violins in the white. He’s about to start making a cello and is very excited for the challenges it may bring. Experimenting with making tools has also been a part of his making experience. Having built a bending iron from scratch, custom clamps and some chisels for special steps, his current project is figuring out how to make finger planes.

Rachel Becker

Having enrolled at the VMSA in March of 2013, up to this point Rachel has completed three violins and a viola in the white, and is midway through a cello. She has recently collaborated on a commissioned viola for a local musician with another student and last summer participated in the VMSA repair class where she practiced crack repair and soundpost patches on two cellos. This, along with her experience of building a cello has cemented the idea in her mind that she would like to focus on cello making and repair in the future. This summer, she will be traveling to Columbia with Sounds of Change, as a resident Luthier, where she will be repairing and setting up student instruments and instructing teachers and musicians in basic instrument maintenance while her colleagues work with the kids to spread string music to underprivileged communities.

Robert J. Wood

Robert worked full-time at Petr’s Violin Shop in Anchorage Alaska before attending VMSA. It was there that Petr Bucinsky taught him repair techniques passed down by his father Ivan Bucinsky and Hans Weisshar, who Petr worked for after graduating from the VMSA. Robert has also done repairs for Thomas & Vessel Stringed Instruments in Modesto California.

Marinos Glitsos

Prior to attending the VMSA Marinos served a two year, part-time apprenticeship with lute builder Danile Larson of Gamut Music, Inc.

Minnesota State College - Southeast Technical in

Nickolaus W. Capps

Prior to attending classes at Minnesota State College, Southeast technical, Nickolaus worked as an instrument repair person at Mellr Music in Milwaukee Wisconsin where he was required to do small repairs on violin family instruments and bows. This led to his desire to learn more about repairing them, so that eventually he could do high quality repairs.

Sean Fowler

Sean began his career in lutherie in 2010 through self study and seeking help from local Luthiers. Between 2013 and 2014 he worked in the repair shop of Wilhite Strings, in Knoxville Tennessee under the supervision of Linda Blosser. Here he performed repairs and set-up on both rental and customer instruments. He also worked for Lane Music during this time.

North Bennet Street

Julia Felix

Despite never having done any sort of repair or making before attending the North Bennet Street School, Julia has learned so much since she arrived in September 2012. She has built 5 instruments now, including a Da Salo model and a Del Gesu model, done basic set-up work such as making a fingerboards, replaning fingerboards, replaning necks, fitting soundposts, carving bridges, etc., alcohol and oil varnishing, and even some repair work such as fitting patches, removing bass bars, and closing cracks. “I have many years of practice and hard work ahead of me, but I believe that I have a good footing to get started on. Receiving a scholarship from the VSA would allow me to make some much needed final purchases to get started as a full time violin maker, as well as help me with some tuition fees for school.”

Jedidjah de Vries

Jedidjah came to North Bennet Street as a lifelong violinist with, admittedly, little direct making experience. This has pushed him to work even harder. In addition to coming in to the bench room early and leaving late every day, he has gone out of his way to pursue as much information and experience as possible. For example,  by travelling to exhibits at Metropolitan Museum of Art and at Yale, by attending events such as the VSA conference in Indianapolis, the federation meeting last year in Chicago and Mondomusica, and by participating in enrichment opportunities such as the Hans Nebel workshop. Still, most of his experience has come from the daily work at the bench, under the tutelage of Roman Barnas. In my two years at NBSS he has learned an incredible amount, most of which, at the end of the day, merely reminds him of all that he has yet to still learn. “I am very excited to continue my studies and appreciate the assistance the VSA has to offer.”

The Violin Society of America 2014 Scholarship recipients

North Bennet Street School, Boston, MA

Jedidjah de Vries: Jedidjah de Vries is mostly from California, but has also lived in Israel and the Netherlands. Currently in his second year at NBSS, he is excited to be soon starting work on a viola.

“I have been playing the violin since I was a young child. And, while I enjoy playing, it was always the violin’s sound that really attracted me to the instrument. I was captivated by the seemingly magical relationship between the music in my ears and the beautiful object in my hand. As a violin maker my goal is to combine physics, history, and craft into the best possible tool for the musician and, ultimately, for the music.”

“I greatly appreciate the VSA scholarship for helping make my dream a reality.”

Julia Felix: I am from Santa Fe, New Mexico, and started at the North Bennet Street School in September 2012. Before coming here, I attended Carleton College in Northfield, MN, where I majored in Studio Art, and am probably one of the only Art Majors ever to say that the experience has helped immensely with my career so far. I also come from a very musical family and have played multiple instruments over the course of my life, so between my love of music and my love of making things, Violin Making made a lot of sense to me. I'm currently in my third year here, and am working on building a variation of a 1580 Gasparo Da Salo Viola, which has been extremely interesting and rewarding so far.

Thanks to the VSA Scholarship, I was able to put some money towards my tuition as well as afford a number of tools that I had been squeaking by without, but actually needed very much. It could not have come at a better time, and I am so grateful that this scholarship exists.

Ryan Fini: Ryan Fini grew up in a very musical family in Albuquerque NM.  He had a fascination with the violin from a very young age and began playing at 8 years old.  Upon completing his bachelor’s degree from the University of New Mexico he was accepted into the violin making program at NBSS.  Ryan is now a graduate of the school as of June 2014.    

 “I have always been infatuated with the violin.  As a child I was greatly intrigued by the lore and mystique surrounding the great violin makers.  When I look back, I can see that becoming a violin maker was only natural for me.”

 “I greatly appreciate the generosity of the VSA in awarding me this scholarship.  It has enabled me to buy many of the tools that I need, and has assisted me in paying my monthly tuition.  I am truly grateful.”

Ryan Stulb: Ryan Stulb is from Cape Cod, Massachusetts and started school at North Bennet Street School in September 2012. He is currently working on 4 Stradivari violins, an Andrea Guarneri viola, and is restoring a German Stainer copy. He is expected to graduate in June of 2015.

As far back as I can remember, I have been obsessed with music. My father is a finish carpenter. My mother is an art teacher. Both parents influenced me into appreciating visual art and craftsmanship. Violin making was the perfect combination of the visual art, craftsmanship, and the auditory. I worked for 5 years as a registered nurse and decided I wanted to to pursue a passion of mine and really go for it. I enrolled in the school. After 2 years of intense training under Roman Barnas, I could not be happier with my decision. I look forward to a life long career in doing what I love every day.  

"To the Violin Society of America, thank you for awarding me this scholarship. It was incredibly helpful in this last year where I could cut back my hours at my part time job to focus on perfecting my craft."

Not pictured: Daniel Lewis McIrvin Jr.

Minnesota State College - Southeast Technical, Red Wing, MN

Ryan Juntunen: Ryan Juntunen is  from Deer River, Minnesota and a graduate of the Violin Repair, as well as both Guitar Repair programs at Southeast Technical College. He started doing repair work and building while he was in high school and was registered as a sole proprietor by the time he graduated. After graduating from Red Wing he moved back to northern Minnesota and he is currently building a shop where he will be building violins, mandolins and guitars.

"I would like to thank the VSA for the scholarship and their support of violin repair students."

Not Pictured: Reed Schmidt and David Tran

The Violin Society of America 2013 Scholarship recipients

Violin Making School of America, Salt Lake City, Utah

Stephen Sherman: Stephen Sherman grew up in Wildwood, Missouri, and started playing the violin at a young age. He began studing woodworking in high school. "Out of my very large family of 8, I am the only one who has stayed musically inclined."

Stephen started at the VMSA in September of 2010 and is looking forward to beginning his graduation work. He is on track to graduate in May of 2014.

"The VSA scholarship has helped to finish the final portion of my school work and has relieved some stress in the process. For that I am very thankful. I love what the school has given me and I’m now ready to use it in the real world. Thanks to all who support the VSA!"

Andrew Moore: Andrew Moore is from McKinney, Texas and started school in March 2011. He is currently working on his last violin, and will soon begin varnish and setup, and is expected to graduate in May of 2014.

"Growing up in music was a one of the most central and enriching parts of life. I've participated in orchestras and chamber groups playing cello; recorded and performed in a band on guitar; and worked as a Audio Engineer. I now look forward to putting music into peoples hands through the craft of instrument making. My father has been essential in providing this opportunity for me." Since beginning school he has developed two separate types of cancer. This scholarship helps with the financial difficulties that have arisen. I greatly appreciate the VSA for the scholarship as I am working towards to finishing the school program."

"To the Violin Society of America, thank you for your support and generosity. Your commitment to the development of craftsmanship and the growing community of makers is greatly appreciated."

Elizabeth Clarke: Elizabeth Clarke started school at the Violin Making School of America at the beginning of October 2011.  Now a second year student, she soon will be closing the box on her fourth violin.

"I started playing the violin when I was 4 years old and have loved it ever since. I first became interested in violinmaking in my first year of college. I've loved every second of the learning the process of violinmaking. My dream is to repair violins as a career. This scholarship has been a big help in aquiring some of the much needed (and expensive) tools of the profession, and I'm very grateful to my wonderful teachers and the Violin Society of America."

Dustin Fagg: Dustin Fagg started at VMSA in March of 2012. Originally from Deltona, FL, Dustin  previously worked in construction. The skills learned as a tradesman have not only helped in his studies, but also helped with improvements around the school, which included assembling VMSA's massive new light box.

"I’m currently working on my cello rib structure and will graduate in May of 2014. I am immensely grateful for the scholarship. It has allowed me to attend summer classes and purchase much needed tools."

Melissa Collins: Melissa Collins proudly hails from Portland Oregon and started at VMSA in October 2010. Currently finishing last violin and beginning varnish, she is expected to graduate May 2014.

"Thank you so much for the scholarship this year. It helps so much and is allowing me to make final tool purchases as I prepare to complete my graduation work. Thank you for your continued support of violin making students."

Chicago School of Violin Making, Skokie, IL

Greg Jablonski: A retired National Park Service employee and avid Irish music fan, Greg is currently in his second year at CSVM and hails from Franklin, Wisconsin.

Drew Harding: Drew, from Aurora, Illinois, completed the violin repair program at Minnesota State College Southeast Technical, and is currently in his second year at CSVM.  He continues guitar/violin repair and making in his free time.

Michael Jackson: Michael, originally from Wyoming, traveled extensively before beginning his studies at CSVM.  He will graduate in 2013.

Scott Albert: Scott is a retired Air Force First Sargeant who is currently completing his final year of study at CSVM.  A VSA judge's scribe in 2012, Scott also attended the recent Oberlin Violin Making workshop as an intern.

Michael Fazio: Michael is an accomplished musician originally from Washington state.  He is currently in his second year at CSVM and is working on his first cello.

North Bennett Street School, Boston, MA

Ryan Fini: (See 2014 Winner)
Armand Aromin:

Minnesota State College – Southeast Technical, Red Wing, MN

Stefan Rieck: Studying under Lisbeth Butler, John Reed and Ute Zahn, Stephen Rieck graduated in 2013 with high honors from the violin repair and construction course at Southeast Technical in Red Wing, Minnesota.  After leaving Minnesota he moved back to Sioux Falls, South Dakota to start work in an established luthier shop, String Theory Luthiery.

Stefan has a lifelong passion for wood working, and was steered toward luthiery with help from his brother Josh Rieck, also a graduate of the Southeast Technical program in Red Wing. Stefan’s desire to repair and create long lasting, beautiful instruments drives him to succeed in his new found career.

Stefan would like to express his thanks to the VSA for the generous scholarship.

Brandi Oviedo 
is a 2013 graduate of the Violin Repair Program at Southeast Technical in Red Wing, MN.  In addition to the completing the Violin Repair Diploma, she took an additional class in Violin Construction, where she built a violin by hand – “mostly by hand, the old-fashioned way.”

Since 2009, Brandi has worked at Ray's Midbell Music in Sioux City, Iowa teaching piano, violin, cello, and guitar. Following graduation, she will now be responsible for maintaining and servicing orchestra instruments rented and sold by Ray's Midbell Music.

Brandi holds a B.M. degree in music education and a B.S. in psychology from the University of South Dakota, where she studied cello with Richard Rognstad, Nick Curry, and Marie-Elaine Gagnon. She performs with many area groups including the Sioux City Symphony, Sioux City's Rockestra, Wayne State College Orchestra, and the Rose Quartet.

Sarah Bystrom is from Ellsworth, Wisconsin and first began playing classical violin when she was 10.  “At the age of 12, I had the opportunity take lesson from John Reed, who opened my eyes to Celtic and bluegrass fiddling, and I loved it!” she says.  She began building her first violin at the age of 14, working in John Reed’s studio. By the age of 18, Sarah had already completed two violins under his consistent and encouraging teaching efforts.  She had also earned the Violin Repair Diploma from Southeast Technical, crediting the help of her college instructors, Lisbeth Nelson Butler and John Reed.

Three weeks after graduating, Sarah moved to Nashville, TN where she now works as the bow specialist at Williams Fine Violins as well as in instrument repair and set-up.  She is excited to continue learning and growing in her violin building interests with the help of shop owner Dustin Williams.

The Violin Society of America
14070 Proton Rd.
Suite 100
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972-233-9107 x224 

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