The 3-year program is divided into nine 14-week trimesters for a total of 126 weeks (3,780 class hours). Class days are Monday through Friday from 8:30 A.M. to 3:30 P.M. Students work with the instructors on an individual and/or small group basis; most instruction is given through demonstration. The program's focus is on construction of instruments in the violin family. A minimum of six instruments are built in the three years; of these, two must be violins and one must be a viola. The remaining three instruments are the student's choice, with instructor approval. The building of a cello is optional.
Bi-weekly, half-hour individual violin lessons and large ensemble are required, and are an important aspect of the program. Previous playing experience, while helpful, is not required for admission.
Each student compiles a construction notebook from notes taken during demonstrations and lectures. Using diagrams, drawings, and written notes, this notebook becomes the student's bench manual in which revisions and additions will be made throughout the three years. The completed notebook is a requirement for graduation and will be presented with the student's work at the graduation program.
Technical drawing is incorporated regularly into each trimester schedule. Students will complete at least two technical drawings, one of which will be made during the six-week graduation testing period. The theory of sound production and violin design is incorporated into the construction learning process. Students are given opportunities through tours and visiting lecturers to see and hear violins made by old and modern masters. Required reading history and identification is supplemented by lectures and discussions.
First Year - Beginning in the first trimester with construction of one violin body, students will learn preparation and proper use of hand tools and will learn and execute the given sequence of steps in violin constructions. A mechanical drawing will be started and bi-weekly violin lessons will begin. After completion of the first violin body, a second violin body using different classical models will be built. Scrolls and neck sets should be completed for the two violin bodies. The student will begin his/her construction notebook and will keep a daily log recording work completed.
Second Year - A viola will be constructed. Theory and application of varnish will be studied and all finished violins are varnished. Set-up will be studied and completed on all finished instruments. Students will continue to add to and refine their notebooks. Violin lessons, mechanical drawing, history, and related lectures will continue.
Third Year - A fourth and fifth instrument of the student's choice will be completed. One trimester will be devoted to the study and practice of set-up, basic instrument maintenance and repair. Violin lessons, mechanical drawing, history, and related lectures will continue.
Final Trimester - Students will prepare for the final exam, completing instrument(s) as required. The graduation exam takes place in the final six weeks of the trimester and includes building one instrument in the white, varnishing another, set-up, mechanical drawing, and written tests. Graduates will also perform on a stringed instrument for the graduation ceremony. Students must successfully finish all aspects of the graduation exam in order to receive a diploma certifying completion of the program.