The Violin Society of America offers scholarship assistance for qualifying students of the art of violin and bow making and restoration. For this purpose the VSA maintains three funds: the Kaplan-Goodkind Scholarship Fund, created in memory of founders Albert J. Kaplan and Herbert Goodkind, the Kun Fund, created in memory of the noted Canadian bowmaker Joseph Kun, and the Aram and Rose Nigogosian Fund created in memory of the parents of Vahakn Nigogosian. Teachers and faculty of leading American violin making schools annually submit the names of those students most worthy of scholarship aid.
To be eligible for a scholarship, a student must be a US citizen, have satisfactorily completed at least one full year of study in the program, have shown serious effort, talent and future promise and have financial need. The administrator of the program will verify these criteria and make recommendations to the VSA. For more information please contact firstname.lastname@example.orgIf you are interested in a VSA Scholarship, please contact the program director.
The scholarship program is funded by gifts from members and others, through donations of items for the Scholarship Auction (held during the competition week), or direct contributions. Please make a contribution to support the training of new violin and bow makers!
The Violin Society of America 2022 Scholarship Recipients
Minnesota State College Southeast
Grette Yang, from Minnetonka, Minnesota, has been passionate about music for as long as she can remember and has played the viola since she was 9 years old. Although having a love for crafting all her life, it wasn’t until high school, where she began building sets for her school’s theater, that she found a joy in woodworking. Combining all these things she enjoys is what brought Grette to Red Wing, Minnesota to study the fine craft of violin repair and making. She is thrilled to be able to take with her all the skills she’s acquired and will be making and working on instruments in her spare time while she continues her post-secondary education.
Zosh Tanner is a recent graduate of the Violin Repair program at Minnesota State College Southeast in Red Wing, Minnesota. Her passion for violin and lutherie started quite recently. She had played various musical instruments throughout her life but found the violin four years ago. Since then, she has learned to play old time style music and Irish fiddle tunes. She graduated from Violin Repair with high honors and built a violin in the program in 2022.
Zosh says, “My interest in art and woodworking has been a part of my life for a lot longer. I’ve been painting and doing mixed media art for as long as I can remember. My grandpa started teaching me carpentry and woodworking a few years ago and since then I’ve been searching for more opportunities to dive into the art form. When I discovered the lutherie program in Red Wing, I knew that I needed violin making to be a part of my life and I am now proud to be presenting my newly made violin to friends and family.”
Born to Polish immigrants, Jacob Swider grew up in the suburbs of Chicago with a fascination for music at an early age. He began playing trombone at 11 and played in the band program during middle school. He was introduced to the bass guitar at age 13 and then acoustic guitar at 15 and started writing his own music. He switched to double bass during high school and then went on to earn a bachelor's degree in music business at Elmhurst University. After working as an instrument retailer at a repair shop, he decided to pursue string repair at Minnesota State College Southeast in Red Wing, Minnesota where he completed the one-year diploma and built his first violin.
Charles W. L. Troester was born in Southern Illinois and grew up in Illinois and Wisconsin. For the last ten years he has made his home in the Twin Cities. He has been a violin player all his life and has had the fortune of having truly great teachers in their own styles. An injury prevented him from pursuing a career as a professional musician, though he has continued to play as an amateur.
Charles said, “Having worked in finance, kitchens, security, sales, delivery, and small business management without a sense of fulfillment, being able to return to violin with a renewed sense of relevance to the skill is like coming home. I have a passion for it. I would like to pass that passion on to other players in their instruments, whether students or professionals, because every player deserves the best instrument they can have.”
Violin Making School of America
Jeremy Buth, originally from Lakewood, CO, is a student in his 4th year at the Violin Making School of America in Salt Lake City. His Grandmother, Nadene Bean, got his start on instruments early, teaching him how to play a 1/8th size cello at the age of 2. When she passed away when he was 5, he started learning from Carol Tarr who he credits with truly starting his passion for playing. He played in the Jefferson County All County Orchestra for elementary school, middle school, and high school; as well as taking part in "Cello Fest" for most of those years. He has also played for The Evergreen Chamber Orchestra, Front Range Youth Symphony, and Jefferson Symphony.
He found a passion for woodworking from Boy Scouts and from his middle school tech-ed class. After Graduating from Wheat Ridge Highschool in 2017 he enrolled in VMSA where he is currently making a cello and has completed 4 instruments "in the white" including varnish on most of those instruments. He is excited to finish up his luthier studies and begin a career in earnest.
Wyatt Galarneau, Originally from Raleigh, NC, is in his second year at the Violin Making School of America. Began restoring and making violins at the age 16 after an apprenticeship with his local luthier at Piedmont Violins in Fuquay-Varina, NC. Worked in General Dentistry and Orthodontics through high school and college with a focus on 3D printing, milling machines, and laser scanning. Briefly attended the violin making course at University of New Hampshire and applied soon after to the Violin Making School of America to continue to pursue his passion for luthiery. Now, Wyatt can be found working as a barista at the local cafe, 3D printing various jigs and violin models, and continuing to pursue the craft of violin making at the VMSA.
Tanner Noel is a second-year student at the Violin Making School of America. He developed a love for the viola at a young age and was inspired by his luthier viola teacher to pursue the career. He really enjoys getting to see renowned instruments in person and hearing them played by those who know them best. Tanner is very grateful to receive support from the VSA and looks forward to his future with the organization.
The Escuela de Laudería
Originally from Querétaro, Mexico, Arantza Sánchez Lira became passionate about music as a child and dreamed of playing the violin. One day, after attending a concert at the Escuela de Laudería, she discovered the world of violin making. In high school, she took a woodcarving class and after graduation, she entered the Escuela de Laudería. She is currently in her 4th year of the Escuela de Laudería's violin making program and began learning bow making and repair from Humberto Nicasio, a Mexican bow maker, during the pandemic.
My name is Karol Maday Luna Diaz. I was born in Oaxaca de Juárez, Mexico. I began my musical studies at the age of 12 going to violin classes at the Oaxaca House of Culture, later I was part of the "Esperanza Azteca" children's choir and I studied high school at the Artistic Education Center "Miguel Cabrera", where I took classes of plastic arts, dance, theater, literature, and my specialization was in music, where while exploring its different branches, I eventually discovered what violin making is. In 2017, I moved to the city of Querétaro to study at the Escuela de Laudería of the National Institute of Fine Arts, where I built my first two violins with the teacher Daniela Villanueva, later I built one more violin with the teacher José Antonio Ontiveros. Due to the pandemic in 2020, our classes began to be online and in that period I made two scrolls for violin, one for viola, and I started building a violin at home. I am currently finishing my violin and building a cello at school, also with teacher José Antonio. In addition, I am doing my social service with Tania Zepeda, the teacher of the restoration and varnish classes. I am very grateful to the VSA for including Mexico in these scholarships, it is a good contribution to continue buying tools and to be able to equip my own workshop.
Isai Zurita: "I am student from the lutherie school in my city, Querétaro (Mexico). I began my instruments taste through music when I decided to study cello in the conservatory. Music has always fascinated me since I was a child, all kinds of music including classical. I learned to play the cello at the same time that I discovered the world of lutherie, going to workshops and meeting luthiers who showed me their work. Soon I fell in love with the trade and had to make a decision, I left my music studies at the conservatory to start building string instruments. At the moment, I study the degree while I work in a workshop of a graduate. I hope to become a great luthier and make all kinds of stringed instruments."
My name is Nubia Celeste Mendoza Macias, I am originally from Querétaro, Mexico. At the age of Eleven, I began my musical education by learning violin. When maintenance was required for my instrument, I met the maestro, Alejandro Diaz. He aided me with his knowledge throughout his workshop, where I fell in love with the Luthier career. At age Twelve, I made the decision to learn how to craft stringed instruments, with focus on the violin. While in high school, I was part of the orchestra and took a wood carving course.
Upon graduation, I applied for the violin crafting career where I’m currently studying in my third year. The Escuela de Laudería has provided me the knowledge and abilities to apply as an assistant to a classic violin and traditional Mexican instruments workshop directed by luthier José Antonio Tavira.
The Violin Society of America 2021 Scholarship Recipients
The Chicago School of Violin Making
Victoria McDonald is originally from central Pennsylvania and began playing the violin at six years old. After graduating from Susquehanna University in 2017 with a BA in Music and a Chemistry minor, she moved to Cleveland, Ohio and gained some industry knowledge while working as an office assistant at Terry Carlin Violins. She also participated in a bow repair workshop with Lynn Hannings at the UNH Violin Craftsmanship Institute in the summer of 2018. While she came to CSVM with no prior violin-making experience, she is immensely grateful for the guidance and encouragement she has received from members of the community and has fallen in love with the trade. After graduating from the Chicago school, she hopes to continue her slow migration westward with her cat and partner to hone her craft in a shop setting.
My name is Katie Dodd and I'm 21 years old. I'm originally from Ohio and moved to Chicago after highschool in order to go to the Chicago School of Violin Making. I am currently finishing up my second year at school while working at Seman Violins. My first encounter with violin making was at Oberlin College where I took cello lessons and became aware of the summer restoration program. I've been interested in the art of violin making ever since and strive to bring my career back home to Oberlin when I have gained the skills and knowledge to do an effective job in the field. It could be 10 years or 40 from now when that happens, but I'm happy learning from my educators, peers, and colleagues in the meantime.
Originally from New York City, Brian Lee began his studies at the Chicago School of Violin Making in January 2020, and is currently a second-year student working on his third instrument. He is a trained violinist, with a B.M. in violin performance from the Eastman School of Music, where his primary teacher was Mikhail Kopelman, and a M.A. in violin performance from Montclair State University, where his teachers were Weigang Li and Lilit Gampel. While at Eastman, he also studied orchestral repertoire with Juliana Athayde. His other major teachers have included Kurt Nikkanen, Jonathan Strasser, and Jean Dane.
Growing up in New York City, he was fortunate to meet and frequently visit many world renowned violin makers and bow makers, restorers, and experts. He also had the privilege to examine and play numerous examples of instruments and bows by important classical makers, as well as leading contemporary makers. These lofty standards of excellence and ethics would influence his decision to pursue violin making. In addition to the Cremonese masters, he is interested in the instruments and working methods of Venetian and Mantuan makers.
Minnesota State College Southeast
Cecil Brown: “I am a student of the Redwing violin repair program. Going through school I learned to appreciate all instruments and their roles through attendance of band, guitar, and orchestra. Though nothing fascinated me more than learning how the instruments worked and produced the music so easily heard walking around campus. After multiple days of losing around 3 hours of homework time to instrument research, I began to think about fixing instruments as a future career. The immediate year after high school graduation begged to differ. With limited finances and large bills, I settled for several factory jobs. Fast forward a shorter way than it felt, friends from out of state picked me up from the depths of labor and set me up with an opportunity to attend redwing. I leapt at the chance immediately and began pinching pennies. Now I soon will be completing the violin repair class and moving on to polish my skills in the real world.”
Violin Making School of America
Mitchell Dart, from Hillsborough, North Carolina, discovered his passion for the violin when he began playing the instrument in 4th grade. From that point his enthusiasm towards any other subject was unmatched until he enrolled in his high school’s woodshop where he found a new joy in woodworking. Mitchell’s teacher inspired him to merge his passions and tackle violin making head on. By the end of that school year he had completed his first violin and been accepted into The Violin Making School of America in Salt Lake City, where he is currently studying. He has completed his first three instruments at the school. He is excited to learn more about violin making and looks forward to getting to know the people in the community.
Zoe McCadams is currently a student at the Violin Making School in Salt Lake City. In 2017, while attending Middle Tennessee State University, she began regular employment at Williams’ Fine Violins in Nashville, Tennessee. There, she discovered her passion for luthiery from watching Dustin Williams, shop owner and VMSA alum, repair instruments. Shortly after, while still attending university, McCadams began apprenticing weekly. Still eager to learn more, McCadams attended the 2018 New Hampshire Violin Craftsmanship Institute and the 2019 ISB convention where she was able to work on her first bass at the conference’s Build-A-Bass program.
After graduating with a bachelors in Music Business in 2019, McCadams moved to SLC and began attending the VMSA. In her spare time she enjoys hiking in Utah’s incredible landscape, rockhounding, baking and playing with her cat, Sputnik.
Cedric Gunn: “I grew up in a small Wyoming town with my parents who instilled in me a deep love of classical music. I was in orchestra class in Junior and Senior high schools but never had private lessons and played on cheap violin which never did sound good. At the time I had no idea what a difference a quality instrument could make. After high school I stopped playing and went on to college with degrees in Molecular Biology and Medical Technology. I spent the past 18 years working with stem cell transplant patients. On snowy day here in Salt Lake I stumbled across the Violin Making School of America and the Peter Prier Shop. Inside Prier, the first chair of the SLC symphony was trying out some old instruments and my love for the violin was rekindled and the possibility of becoming a luthier ignited. Having no prior wood working experience, I signed up with VMSA to begin forging what will be a second career for me. Currently I find myself about midpoint in my Luthier training program here at the school and look forward to one day providing quality Luthier services for a community without.”
North Bennett Street School
Eliot Smith grew up in the mountains of North Carolina in a musical family. He started playing Suzuki violin at 2 years old and later spent 5 years as a touring musician. He realized that as much as he enjoyed the music, what really inspired him was the instruments. He began building violins with Joe Thrift who encouraged Eliot to attend North Bennet Street School and study with Roman Barnas. Now in his second year, Eliot is grateful for the financial support from the VSA.
Ada Schenck is a young maker and artist from rural Vermont. She grew up in her father’s cabinet shop, played fiddle for ten years, and was a professional hand weaver in her teens, so violin making is a natural fit. She was homeschooled her whole life, and entered the Violin Making and Repair program under Roman Barnas at the North Bennet Street School at age 18. Ada is now in her second year of study, currently building three violins and a viola, and has been diving deep into varnish making in the past semester. She is grateful for the financial support from the VSA and looks forward to being in the industry for years to come.