CSVM Benefit

An evening of wine and music featuring Rachel Barton Pine was held at the Music Institute of Chicago in Evanston on February 24 to benefit the Chicago School of Violin Making.

In spite of a snow storm many CSVM supporters turned out to sample fine wine, provided by Hart, Davis & Hart Wine Importers and to listen to fine music, provided by Rachel Barton Pine. Rachel performed on several different 18th and 19th century violins, which were loaned for the occasion by Board Member Jim Warren of Kenneth Warren & Son Fine Violins, and on a violin made by third-year CSVM student, Sara Deliberato.

Many thanks to Rachel and her husband, CSVM Board Member, Greg Pine for their informative commentary and the beautiful music; Board Member, Paul Hart for the wine; the hard work of Board President Jessie Gilbert; all the Board Members and guests who attended the event; and to the CSVM students who acted as hosts, servers and musicians at the event. A special “Thank You!” to all the friends of the Chicago School of Violin Making who attended the benefit and donated to the school!

Set Up/Repair Term

Instructor Henni Hahn is working with six 3rd year students during the January-April trimester. Focus has been on set up in the early weeks. Repair projects are ongoing and include crack repair, neck grafts and sound post patches. A week of bow rehair instruction will take place during the beginning of the summer term with Ken Stein as instructor. The same 6 students will participate.

Other News

Students are now checking and documenting tap tones by ear and with the aid of a computer/microphone consistent with the practices of many modern makers. Student MJ Kwan has set up a school-wide database system that will record and store this information for each student’s instruments. Photos of instruments, lecture notes and pertinent articles about the violin are being added and made available to students in the library computer archive.

In February Tschu Ho Lee brought several of his violins and violas and discussed and demonstrated sound adjustment techniques. He also brought many of his tools and templates for the students to examine and copy.

In January Mike Lochner, a 2004 graduate who is now in Janesville, WI, brought 3 of his newly completed instruments to show students and fielded questions about his work and experiences. In addition, Petio Kostov, a 1997 graduate brought 3 of his instruments to show students andto answer questions about varnish, techniques and violin making.

December 2015 Graduation

Four students, Caitlin Cook, John Griffin, IDeun Kang, and Levi Samuelson graduated on December 18, 2015. Ryan McLaughlin was guest speaker; the school ensembles presented several selections and the student quartet and sextet also performed several pieces.

2015 December Graduation

VSA Convention

Rebecca Elliott and students Alex Linn and Jerry Goehring attended the VSA Convention near Baltimore, MD in November 2015. The 2 students volunteered 6+ hours as assistants to speakers and room monitors for the instrument exhibitions. They were great ambassadors of CSVM and were able to do a lot of networking.

CSVM 40th Anniversary Celebration

The school’s 40th Anniversary celebration was held on Sunday, July 26, 2015 at the Orrington Hotel in Evanston. Graduates traveled from the East Coast, the West Coast and points in between, as well as from Canada, Japan, Korea and Honduras to attend!

The day started with an Open House at the school. 40-50 graduates, alumnae, current students, and their families enjoyed refreshments and visiting and catching up.

An afternoon Instrument Exhibition at the Orrington Hotel featured almost 40 graduate and student-made instruments and bows, including a Joseph Curtin violin and several Tschu Ho Lee instruments.

After a wine reception at the hotel, 135 guests enjoyed dinner in the Grand Ballroom, with Joseph Curtin as keynote speaker. There was much in his presentation to inspire thought and generate ideas; those present were encouraged to think about their work from different perspectives. Board of Directors President, Jessie Gilbert (December 2002) emceed the event and presented small gifts of recognition to Mr. and Mrs. Lee. Fred Thompson and Becky Elliott also presented short remarks.

The evening ended with after-dinner snacks, coffee and much spontaneous music making.

Tschu Ho Lee generously donated mugs and rulers featuring photos of some of his instruments, and over $1,000.00 was raised during the event for the school’s scholarship fund.

It was great to see everyone!

A HUGE thank you to all who helped to make the celebration so successful! And a special thank you to Beth Harrell, Catering Sales Manager, and her staff at the Orrington Hotel. Beth guided the planning committee through the process with endless patience and good humor.



August 2015

Two students, Andrew McGinn and Andrea Studzinski received their diplomas at the August 2015 graduation program where Louis Torick, another 1994 CSVM graduate was the guest speaker. Both Andrew and Andrea are now employed by Kenneth Stein Violins in Elmhurst, IL. Ken is an alumnus and patron of the school.

August 2015 Photos

Summer 2015

Student Mary Jane Kwan attended the Oberlin Acoustics workshop in June. She was an enthusiastic ambassador for CSVM and after her return, gave a lecture on beginning acoustic principles that was informative for students and instructors. She also organized a blind listening test loosely based on the methods of C. Fritz and J. Curtin. 2 students performed excerpts while the rest evaluated and described sound.

Four CSVM students were awarded scholarships from the Violin Society of America in August. Congratulations to John Griffin, Caitlin Cook, Sara Deliberato and Levi Samuelson!

April 2015

Ben Arnett and Thomas Price graduated from CSVM in April 2015. Whitney Osterud, a 1994 graduate of the school was the guest speaker. Ben Arnett is now employed with Michael Becker in Park Ridge, IL and Thomas Price is working at Guarneri House in Grand Rapids, MI.

April 2015 Photos

March 2015

The 6-week graduation exam is under way. Currently, Ben Arnett and Thomas Price are working on their finalizing thier instruments and drawings in preparation for this event. The April graduation program will be held on Friday, April 17 at 11:00 a.m. at the school.

Also this month, Jessie Gilbert and her husband hosted a dinner party in their home to celebrate the 90th birthday of friend of the school, Mrs. Elinor Thaviu. To thank Mrs. Thaiviu for her generous support of the school, Sara Deliberato, Joel Thompson, May Jane Kwan and Rebecca Elliott surprised her with a selection of music by Schumann.

February 2015

The CSVM Board of Directors held their Annual Meeting at the school in February at which time Mr. James Zartman stepped down as President of the Board of Directors after more than 14 years of service. Jim’s way of ending a sometimes lengthy discussion has been to play a riff on his harmonica that he always carried in his shirt-pocket. As a small gesture of appreciation for his dedication and support of the Chicago School of Violin Making, the students and instructors presented to him a hand crafted wooden replica harmonica. The Chicago School of Violin Making owes Jim a huge debt of gratitude for his legal advice, financial support, and all-around enthusiasm for the school and instructors.

James Zartman with Harmonica

During the meeting New officers were elected:

Jessie Gilbert, President;
Petio Kostov, Vice President
Mel Sapp, Secretary
James Zartman, Treasurer

In addition, we welcome Christopher Brathwaite and Paul Zafer to the Board of Directors.

Bennett Birthday Celebration

Also during the month, several students and faculty performed a musical offering to honor another friend of the school, Mrs. Norma Bennett , in celebration of her 100th birthday. Sara Deliberato, Alex Linn, Joel Thompson, Mary Jane Kwan and Rebecca Elliott performed for Mrs. Bennett and friends at the Admiral at the Lake residence in Chicago.

January 2015

CSVM began the January 2015 trimester with 7 new students. They are a varied and talented group. The school expects to have 2 graduates in April 2015.

6 students are currently hard at work cutting bridges and soundposts, planning fingerboards, shaping necks and more with Set-up/Repair instructor, Henni Hahn. Hennie is putting more focus on set-up this year, and has units planned to study crack repair, touch-up and bow rehair with Ken Stein

December 2014 Graduation

Sibai Huang, Greg Jablonski, Greg Tracy and Frances Ritchie received their diplomas during a ceremony on December 19, 2014. Mathias Tacke, professor of violin at Northern Illinois University and former second violinist of the Vermeer Quartet was the guest speaker. The student quartet, horn trio, as well as the large and small ensembles performed. Mr. Tacke also brought his L. Storioni violin and a newly completed copy made by graduates Elizabeth LaPorte (2011) and Mitsugu Gomikawa (1989) for the students to study.

Bennett Birthday Celebration

November 2014

6 CSVM students received scholarships from the VSA in November. Congratulations to Greg Tracy, Thomas Price, Ben Arnett, Andrew McGinn, Gene Backlin and Andrea Studzinski.

October 2014

2014 Graduates Oberlin

Drew Harding Solo

Drew Harding Performing Graduation Solo

Michael Fazio Performance

Michael Fazio Performing on his own cello "in the white".

Guest Speaker Mike Block

Guest Speaker, Mike Block

Block and Ahlberg

Student Patrik Ahlberg & Mike Block

In October, Elizabeth LaPorte brought 2 G.B Guadagnini violins and an Omobono Stradivari violin from Kenneth Warren & Son for the students to study.

Also in October, the School hosted the CSVM Board of Directors for a “Students –Meet-the Board “ buffet lunch prior to the Board meeting. This annual affair provides an opportunity for the Board members and students to get to know each other and to visit in a casual atmosphere.

September 2014

CSVM had a large presence at the VSA Competition/Convention held in Indianapolis September 15 – 20. Approximately 40 graduates, current students and Board members attended all or part of the week. Sixteen graduates entered instruments in the competition. The following received awards:

Kevin Chapin: Certificate of merit for tone – cello
Gary Garavaglia: Silver medal for tone – quartet
Petio Kostov: Silver medal for workmanship – viola, Certificate of merit for workmanship – cello
William Lakeburg: Silver medal for tone – bass
Michael Lochner: Certificate of merit for tone – cello
Paul Noulet: Certificate of merit for tone – quartet, Certificate of merit for workmanship – viola

Congratulations to all!

August 2014

The August graduation ceremony included lots of music by large and small student ensembles as well as the 2 graduates, Drew Harding and Michael Fazio. The guest speaker, cellist Mike Block, spoke of the importance of involving musicians in the making/repair process; he concluded by performing a Swedish folk piece with student Patrik Ahlberg and demonstrated his cello “harness” that allows cellists to stand and play.

2014 Graduating Class

August 2014 Graduating Class

May 2014

In March, Eva Voinigescu, Northwestern journalism student, completed a video piece about the school. Watch it here.

Paul Noulet: Certificate of merit for tone – quartet, Certificate of merit for workmanship – viola

November 2013


Newest Board Member Jim Casey and President Jim Zartman chat with students at the Board-Meets-Students lunch in October 2013


Joe Robson demonstrating varnish cooking to Thomas Price and Greg Jablonski


August 2013 Graduates: Scott Albert, Michael Jackson, Jeff Madrey


Tschu Ho Lee with Li Kuo Chang, August 2013 graduation Guest Speaker

Many CSVM graduates participated in and attended the Violin Society of America Convention held in Timoniuim, Maryland in November. The convention was packed full of interesting and informative lectures, and it was good for different "generations" of CSVM graduates to meet each other. Congratulations to VSA President Chris Germain (CSVM 1985) for heading up such a successful conference.

The CSVM Board of Directors held the annual "Students Meet Members" luncheon at the School in October. The Board Meeting took place after the lunch, and the Board welcomed Chicago attorney Jim Casey as the newest member of the Chicago School of Violin Making Board of Directors.

Joe Robson, varnish maker, presented a week long workshop in September on varnishing materials and techniques. Students got to practice with oil varnish, watch varnish being made and applied, and got a more in-depth understanding of varnish components. We all learned so much that we're planning to have him back next year!

In July Lisbeth Nelson Butler, visiting from Southeast Minnesota Technical College, taught a proportional drawing class to 14 CSVM students and gave several bonus history presentations as well. Thanks, Lisbeth!

Three students, Scott Albert, Jeff Madry and Michael Jackson graduated from the program in August 2013. The Guest Speaker for graduation was Li Kuo Chang, Assistant Principal Violist with the CSO. His talk was exciting and encouraging to new makers.

CSVM students Greg Jablonski, Drew Harding, Michael Jackson, Scott Albert and Michael Fazio were recipients of VSA scholarships this past summer. Our thanks to the Violin Society of America for their continued support.


August 2013 Graduating Class


(left to right) 2013 VSA Scholarship winners Greg Jablonski, Drew Harding, Michael Jackson, Scott Albert, Michael Fazio; Jeff Madry playing his just-completed cello; The 'Plane'-Girls': first trimester students Mary Jane Kwan & Ona Oliver in their Halloween costumes

February 2013


Fred Thompson and John Bany

Bass repair underway


Student Levi Samuelson & Instructor Fred Thompson working on bass during Repair Lab

The repaired bass and some of the students who helped on the  project, with Fred Thompson, Instructor and John Bany.

The repaired bass and some of the students who helped on the project, with Fred Thompson, Instructor and John Bany.

In February 2013 a group of CSVM students learned, through a Chicago Sun-Times article by Dave Hoekstra, about the plight of a local musician. John Bany, revered veteran of the Chicago jazz community and a Skokie resident, was at one of his regular weekly gigs when his bass was accidentally dropped and badly damaged. The students contacted John and offered to repair the bass at no charge.

The project took just over five months to complete, from mid-February to the end of July, and the result was pleasing for everyone involved. The students gained invaluable experience in complicated repair techniques, and John got his bass back as good as new. The best part of the experience for us at CSVM was the opportunity to get to know John, who is not only a wonderful musician, but one of the nicest people we know! Our thanks to Mike Blaa for introducing us to John!

Check out our slideshow that chronicles the repair project from beginning to end.