Violin Making School of America LLC
304 East 200 South,
Salt Lake City, UT 84111 USA
Phone: (801) 209-3494
Fax: (801) 847-6543
email us

Office Hours:
Monday - Friday 9:00AM to 6:00PM MST
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   Catalog and Contact Info
Violin Making School of America LLC
In Salt Lake City

Founded in 1972 by Peter Paul Prier, the Violin Making School of America LLC provides its graduates with a foundation of skills and knowledge on which to build their careers as makers, restorers, and dealers of violin family instruments.  From their start  in entry-level positions in violin shops, many of our alumni have gone on to join the elite of the profession.

The school is located in the downtown area, near public transportation, cultural and sports venues, a large public library, and the University of Utah.  It has two well-lit spacious workshops, machine room, lecture room, and varnish and setup rooms.  There is an extensive collection of books, pictures, and plaster casts for study.
The school program is approved for international students and veterans.

Owner, Director, Woodworking Instructor, received the Certificate of Luthier from the school in 1987, then worked as a restorer at the Bearden Violin Shop in St. Louis.  He has been Head Instructor at the school since 1991.

Instructor of Varnish, Setup, Art Class.  Mr. Lee graduated from VMSA in 2004, and worked in restoration at the Peter Prier violin shop.  He has taught at the school since 2009.

Woodworking Instructor.  Aubrey has played the cello since she was 10, received a BA from Southwestern University, and has worked at Moroz Violins.  She graduated with honors from VMSA in 2011.

Violin Playing Instructor.Rosalie received her Master's Degree in violin performance from BYU, and has been violin teacher at VMSA since 1998.

School Administrator.  Lori received her Bachelor's Degree in Integrated Marketing Communications from Abilene Christian University in 2003.  She has been with VMSA since 2004.

Applicants must meet the following criteria:
  • High school graduate or equivalent.  No ACT or SAT requirements.
  • Physically and mentally capable
  • Good vision and hearing
  • Good work habits
  • Adequate English skills
  • Financially able to complete the program
Playing ability and woodworking experience are desirable but not necessary.
New students may begin at any time as openings occur, in the order in which they've completed the enrollment process.  While not a requirement, a visit to the school before attending is strongly encouraged.  The school does not discriminate on the basis of gender, age, race, religion, sexual preference, color, national or ethnic origin.  Granting of prior credit, such as reducing time in the program based on previous experience, will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

1.Complete the application form on the FAQ/Apply page of this website.

2.Write a one or two page letter of personal intent.  This should include your reasons for wanting to attend the school, qualifications for attending, and any other information you feel would be relevant for acceptance to the school.

3.Briefly describe your financial plan for paying tuition and living expenses.

4.Mail the personal intent letter and financial plan to the address provided at the top of this page.

5.You will then be notified regarding your acceptance.  If accepted, we will send you  the Enrollment Agreement.

6.Sign the Enrollment Agreement and return it along with a deposit of $1000, which guarantees placement in the school and is applied to the first quarter tuition.  This deposit is refundable on request, as set forth in the following provision of the Utah Division of Consumer Protection:  "[There will be] a three-business-day cooling-off period, commencing with the day an enrollment agreement with the applicant is signed or an initial deposit or payment toward tuition and fees of the institution is made, until midnight of the third business day following such date or from the date that the student first visits the institution, whichever is later, during which time the contract may be rescinded and all monies paid refunded. Evidence of personal appearance at the institution or deposit of a written statement of withdrawal for delivery by mail or other means shall be deemed as meeting the terms of the cooling off period."

The school program is designed to be completed in 3 years.  
The program consists of the making of a total of 7 violins and 1 cello.  The traditional, time-honored techniques of making are emphasized.
• An optional summer schedule is offered in June and July.  There is no school in August.  A repair class is offered during the summer program.
School hours are 8 to 4, Monday through Friday.  The three year program length is 3900 clock hours.  One-on-one workshop instruction is provided
Art classes are given which include technical drawing, for eye training.
Violin lessons are provided, as basic playing skills are a necessity in the profession.  
There are lectures on construction, varnish, setup, and repair.
Weekly classes are held on historic makers and schools of making, often including hands-on viewing of classic instruments.
Regular classes are given in tonal properties of instruments.
Classes with visiting soloists occur when possible.  Soloists who have visited the school include Isaac Stern, Midori, Sarah Chang, Yo-Yo Ma, Joshua Bell, Yitzhak Perlman, and many others.
There is an annual one day wood trip to the Uinta Mountains, near Salt Lake City.

First Year
There is an initial 3-month probation period.
2 violins are made “in the white”, i.e. no varnish or setup.
Second Year
The student makes a third violin.
The student makes one fractional size violin, e.g. 3/4 size.
A cello is started.
Third Year
The cello is completed.
All instruments are then varnished and set up.  At the same time, a violin  is made; this will be the graduation model. If the faculty approves, the student then begins Graduation Examination work.  

Two violins are made (1 in the white, 1 finished).
The graduation work period is 3 months.
A short (3 page) thesis is written.
An organized, legible, complete notebook is presented; a technical drawing is also prepared, along with an original art project.
There is a brief oral examination with a guest examiner and faculty.

Upon successful completion of the graduation requirements, the student is awarded the Certificate of Luthier, and keeps the varnished graduation instrument.  The remaining instruments become the property of the school.  The student may have the option of purchasing his instruments from the school once they are all completed and approved.

Students will be graded quarterly on progress of work, pace of work, attendance, attitude and conduct, and playing progress.  Grading will be on a satisfactory/needs improvement/unsatisfactory basis, and guidelines will be offered for improvement.  There will also be regular inspections of notebooks for organization, legibility and completeness.  A pattern of unsatisfactory grades with inadequate progress may require reviewing the student’s suitability for the program.  The school will follow a disciplinary process of probation, dismissal, and possible re-admission, as necessary, on a case-by-case basis.  A file will be maintained on each student containing the application and all relevant documents pertaining to attendance, performance and grades, and tuition payments.

Annual tuition is $11,880 to be paid in three quarterly installments of $3960.  Total tuition for 3 years (3900 clock hours) is $31,680 (note that tuition is not paid during the Graduation Examination period of the program).  Tuition is subject to change, although the school will make every effort to avoid tuition increases for enrolled students.  Tuition covers all instruction, wood, varnish materials and setup supplies used in the course of study.   In the event of withdrawal or dismissal following the three business day cooling off period, refunds will be made on the following basis: The amount to be refunded shall be the total amount of tuition paid for the quarter, multiplied by a fraction in which the numerator is the number of school days for which the student has paid but which the student has not received, divided by the total number of school days for which the student has paid. (See also the policy regarding the enrollment fee under  Application Process).  Regularly scheduled holidays and breaks are part of the tuition period.
Tuition is due the first day of the quarter.  If not paid within 5 school days, and lacking a valid explanation, the student will not be able to attend the school until full payment is made.
Some financial assistance is available to students.  Funding is available to veterans through the Veterans Administration.  The Violin Society of America provides scholarships each year to qualified students, through the school.  A local credit union provides a private, credit-based loan for tuition and living expenses to domestic students.   Please contact us for more information about these programs.    
School tools are available, but these are not intended as a long-term substitute for the student's own set of tools.  Students will be expected to begin purchasing their own tools as soon as they start the program, and will be required to own a full set of tools by the third year.  The typical cost of a set of professional quality tools totals $1500 to $2000.  Fellow students and faculty will be happy to advise you on tool purchases.

The school will assist in the placement of graduates.  There is a steady demand for graduates by violin shops, and the school receives numerous requests for graduates throughout the school year.  These are posted at the school.  The school does not guarantee placement or wage and salary levels.

The school is located near rentals in all price ranges.  Please see the apartment finding links on the FAQ page for more information.

January:     Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday
February:    President’s Day holiday
March:Spring Quarter begins
April:   Spring/Easter break, Friday and Monday
May:   Graduation ceremony
   Memorial Day holiday
June:   Summer session begins (optional)
July:    July 4 holiday
   Summer session concludes at end of July
August:       School is closed
September:  Fall Quarter begins Tuesday after Labor Day.
   One day annual local wood trip.                                                  
October:     Columbus Day holiday
November:   Thanksgiving holiday, Thursday and Friday
December:  Winter Quarter begins
                  Holiday Season/New Year’s break, two weeks maximum

A surety bond has been posted with the Utah State Division of Consumer Protection.

REGISTERED UNDER THE UTAH POSTSECONDARY PROPRIETARY SCHOOL ACT (Title 13, Chapter 34, Utah Code)  Registration under the Utah Postsecondary Proprietary School Act does not mean that the State of Utah supervises, recommends, nor accredits the institution.  It is the student’s responsibility to determine whether credits, degrees, or certificates from the institution will transfer to other institutions or meet employers’ training requirements.  This may be done by calling the prospective school or employer.  The institution is not accredited by a regional or national accrediting agency recognized by the United States Department of Education.