Violin Society of America/Oberlin Restoration Workshops

The VSA/Oberlin program will have two restoration workshops in the summer of 2018, one for instruments and one for bows. These are one week long, run at the same time, and are across the hall from each other in the same building. Participants will be free to go back and forth between the two. 

The VSA/Oberlin programs take place at Oberlin College, Oberlin Ohio, near Cleveland. The VSA/Oberlin programwas originally an instrument restoration workshop, and we have revived this, recognizing that repair and restoration are the way most "violin and bow makers" will actually make their living.

Dates for the 2018 workshops: Sunday July 1st (arrive) through Saturday July 7th (depart). There will be an orientation meeting at 5:00 pm on the arrival day, so please make travel plans to arrive in time for that.

Participants for both workshops will be selected based partly on prior experience, ability to contribute to the overall learning experience of all participants, and available space. Contact information for each workshop is at the bottom of the individual "staff" sections.

Please scroll to the bottom for some "before and after" pictures of work done by current and former staff.

This page will be periodically revised with more complete information and updates, so please check back. (last updated 12/29/17)

Staff for the 2018 workshops:

We have had this guest teaching team before, and I can highly recommend it.

Andrew Fairfax:
Andrew graduated with Distinction from the Newark School of Violin Making in 1980 before going on to work as a restorer with Joost van der Grinten in the Netherlands. For 27 years, he was been employed as a violin maker and restorer at J & A Beare in London where he has worked on some of the finest classical instruments. He is co-author of the book "The British Violin and The Vollers", and has written and lectured on various aspects of violin history, making, and restoration, both in the UK and abroad. Andrew and his wife Annaleen currently operate Fairfax violins.

Iris Carr:
Iris also graduated with distinction from the Newark School of Violin Making, and then worked in the Charles Beare shop, surrounded and taught by some of the best craftspeople in the profession, while working some of the finest instruments. She has taught restoration in Cologne, has given regular Retouching Courses at Fertan in France for the French Violinmaking Association Aladfi, and has taught at the West Dean restoration course. She now runs her own business, with a major part of her work coming from instrument dealers.

Jeffrey Holmes, program director:
Jeffrey studied violin making with Tschu Ho Lee at the Chicago School of Violin Making. During school, his experience was enhanced through his employment by conservator Dudley Greeley and violin maker Marilyn Wallin. After graduating in 1985, he worked with David Burgess at Shar in Ann Arbor, MI, making new instruments and performing restoration work.  During his 17 year stay at Shar, he also worked with a number of restorers including Mark Norfleet, Jerry Pasewicz, Oliver Radke, and Anton Smith.  From 1995-2003, he served as Vice-President of Shar Fine Instruments. In May of 2003, Jeffrey left the firm and opened his own studio where he offers restoration, appraisal, expertise, and sales of old and contemporary instruments and bows. Jeff is a member of the Appraisers Association of America, has served on the Board of Directors at the Chicago School of Violin Making, and served on the Board of Directors for the Violin Society of America for eight years.

David Burgess, program assistant:
David, a full time maker now, was a repairman and restorer in the Hans Weisshaar shop, and continued with restoration activity until approximately 1991. During that time, as a shop manager, he was involved in the training of numerous people who have gone on to have major impact in the field, many of whom are now members of the American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers, and/or the Entente.

Workshop description:

Much of the time will be spent with participants working on projects they have brought, with teachers circulating around giving tips, answering questions, discussing alternate ways of accomplishing a goal, and drawing the group together for a discussion, whenever something about what a participant is doing (or isn't doing) can be expanded on in a way that is of interest to the group. This will be supplemented with some presentations, and the hope is that the teachers will bring some thorny projects of their own.

Tuition (which includes housing and two meals per day) ranges between $1100 and $1200 for the week, mostly depending on whether you choose air conditioning or not. If you do not need housing, the program and meal fee will be $900.

If you are interested in attending, please contact:

Jeffrey Holmes
Phone: 734 668-6745

Staff for the Bow Restoration Workshop:

New this year is

Pete Oxley:
Pete is an award-winning bow maker, an internationally recognized expert and restorer of 19th century French bows, and an accomplished jazz musician. His diverse and intimate knowledge of bows began with his early apprenticeship with W. E. Hill & Sons bow maker Garner Wilson, and later continued with his move to France to immerse himself in bow restoration. Being in France and working on French bows developed his knowledge of and experience with French making techniques, style, and history. Both the strict English method of making and the artistry of the French style have informed Pete’s bow work and making. His unique and innovative restoration techniques have become highly regarded in the field and have been published in multiple resources including The Strad, BVMA Newsletter, and the IPCI’s The Conservation, Restoration, and Repair of Stringed Instruments and Their Bows. Pete has spoken at international conferences and events including the 1995 Musicora International Symposium of Bows, and has won multiple bow making awards including Paris 1999, gold and silver and Manchester 2001, gold. He has also been involved in unique projects including participating in the BBC’s program Scrapheap Orchestra. Pete is currently working in Oxford as a bow maker and restorer.

Jerry Pasewicz:
Jerry made his first violin and bow in 1978. After spending time in violin making school, working in violin shops and owning his own shop, he was hired to direct the workshop at Shar Products in 1988. At Shar he worked alongside multiple award-winning violinmaker and former Weisshaar foreman David Burgess, gaining crucial experience in the restoration of violin and bows. In 1992, armed with this experience, he was hired as an instrument restorer at Jacques Francais Rare Violins in New York, under the direction of renowned restorer Rene Morel. In the Francais workshop, Jerry not only had the opportunity to work on the finest instruments and bows, but also to work for some of the world’s finest musicians. He continued working under the direction of Maestro Morel for two and a half years, and continued doing work for Jacques Francais until leaving Manhattan in 1998. During his time in New York, Jerry Pasewicz also served a bow making apprenticeship with multiple gold medal-winning maker David Samuels. Jerry has been a participant in the Oberlin workshops since 1997. He has been an instructor in the bow making and restoration workshop at Oberlin since 2000, and has been on the faculty of the instrument set up workshop from 2004-2006. He has been a presenter at The Violin Society of America conventions, currently sits on its board of directors, and is the chair of the International Violin and Bow Makers Competition. Jerry has been a member of the American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers since 1997, and currently serves as Vice President of this organization.

David Orlin:
After college, David was a professional furniture maker. He began bowmaking with William Salchow at the University of New Hampshire in the summers of 1982  and 1983. He continued training with David Burgess and Mark Norfleet at Shar Products from 1982-85, and then worked for Claire Givens Violins in Minneapolis, 1985-6. He worked independently in Madison and Seattle before returning to Ann Arbor in 1989. Orlin participated in the VSA/Oberlin Bowmaker's Workshop in 1996, 1997 and 2000. He was elected to membership in the American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers (AFVBM) in 1996.
Orlin has taught bow repair and restoration at the National String Workshops in Madison since 1993 and for the VSA/Oberlin bow restoration course since 2003. He has exhibited and presented at conventions of the AFVBM, VSA and the America String Teachers Association, and lectures frequently about bows. In 2001 he was featured on PBS Television's WNET production EGG: The Arts show.
Specializing in restoration for over 25 years has afforded many opportunities for in-depth study of old master bows. Orlin's own bow models include historical patterns from Baroque and Classical through 19th Century inspired designs. Related activities include researching alternative bow woods, sculpting, and playing for contra dances.

Techniques of bow repair and restoration addressed will include frog chevals; head splines; tongue grafts; stick and frog bushings; rail replacement; head grafts; silver replacement.
Also covered will be all aspects of bow setup, including windings; thumb leather; camber; pearl slides; screws; eyelets; ivory tips; rehairing.
The techniques covered will depend on the projects the participants and instructors bring to the course. There will be many demonstrations as well as plenty of time to work on your own or with an instructor's guidance.
Participants are expected to bring tools, materials, and projects for setup or restoration.

Tuition (which includes housing and two meals per day) ranges between $1100 and $1200 for the week, mostly depending on whether you choose air conditioning or not. If you do not need housing, the program and meal fee will be $900.

If you are interested in attending, please contact:

Jerry Pasewicz
Phone: 919 858-0429

Questions about the course can also be answered by David Orlin.
Phone: 734 663-6631

Below are some "before and after"  and project pictures of work done by current and previous staff.

Andrew Dipper rebuilds a rib assembly onto a back

In this series of three picures, the first shows a previous worm damage repair. The second shows the old repair removed. The third (in color) shows the outcome of the latest repair.

Prior repaired worm damage.

Previous repair removed.

New repair.

New, replacement scroll for a Mantagnana violin: