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Minnesota State College Southeast
A Technical & Community College

Violin Repair - Diploma

Career Area: Musical Instrument Repair & Building
Program: Violin Repair Program
Campus(es): Red Wing

Study repair and maintenance of violin family instruments — violin, viola, cello and bass — as well as bow repair and rehairing.

In the Violin Repair diploma at Minnesota State College Southeast in Red Wing, students learn about tools, woods, materials, and common repair and maintenance techniques.

The Violin Repair program at MSCS is unique in that it is structured for an entire academic year. Other institutions offer shorter workshops, some as brief as a week, that offer an overview of the repair process. There are 3 and 4- year programs that teach violin construction but do not provide the same degree of in-depth focus on repairing instruments and bows. Our students learn in-depth by completing many different repair process multiple times during the year of study.

  • Fine motor skills, patience and the ability to focus on the work at hand are essential.
  • No previous experience with woodworking is required as violin repair is very different from other woodworking crafts. You will learn from the ground up.

The aim of the program is for students to be prepared to work in the best violin shops in the world and to continue the lifelong process of learning the art. In recent years,our students have achieved 100% job placement: those who earn the Violin Repair Diploma and are seeking employment have consistently found work in the field.

Apply now for admission to MSC Southeast

Career Field: Engineering, Manufacturing & Technology
Cluster: Manufacturing
Pathway: Maintenance, Installation & Repair
Recommended high school classes and basic job/program skills

Download the Program Plan


1) 1000 level (minimum) General Education courses required unless specified

English/Communications requirement
Choose one 2 credit (or greater) English or Communications course.
2 cr
Math requirement
Choose one 2 credit (or greater) Math course.
2 cr
4 crs
Introduction to Tools
This course covers hand tool preparation and use, and power tool safety, set up, adjustment and use. Time is spent on tool preparation and sharpening and some tools are made. Accurate measuring, marking and shaping using hand and power tools is practiced. (Prerequisite: None) (2 credits: 0 lecture/2 lab)

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2 cr
Basic Materials
This course covers trees, instrument parts, adhesives, and wood identification, characteristics, and movement. (Prerequisite: None) (1 credit: 1 lecture/0 lab)

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1 cr
Introduction to Violin Playing
A basic skill at violin playing is necessary for adjusting instruments for sound. Students learn correct left and right hand positions, bow motion, scales, simple pieces and basic music theory. (Prerequisite: None) (1 credit: 1 lecture/0 lab)

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1 cr
Violin History
The important violin makers of the past and present are the subject of this class. Italian, French, English, German, and American makers are covered, including stylistic differences and comparative values. (Prerequisite: None) (2 credits: 2 lecture/0 lab)

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2 cr
Bow Rehairing
This course is largely hands-on and covers rehairing of violin, viola, cello, and bass bows. (Prerequisite: None) (4 credits: 1 lecture/3 lab)

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4 cr
Bow Repairs
This class covers several kinds of grips, tip plate replacement, eyelets and frog and stick cracks. Materials identification and history of the modern bow are included. (Prerequisite: none) (2 credit: 0 lecture/2 lab)

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2 cr
Violin Varnish
This course covers varnish ingredient, preparation and use, including colors, resins, vehicles and techniques. (Prerequisite: None) (2 credits: 1 lecture/1lab)

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2 cr
Ebony Work
This course covers the parts of instruments normally made of ebony, including pegs, nuts, fingerboards, saddles, and end buttons and end pins. There is a fee of $12 charged for this course. (Prerequisites: VLNR1301, VLNR1305) (5 credits: 2 lecture/3 lab)

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5 cr
Bridges and Soundposts
Soundposts and bridges are critical to the sound and playability of an instrument. Students learn where and how to fit the soundpost and bridge to each individual instrument and how to carve the bridge for optimum sound and aesthetic appeal. Students will fit at least 12 violin/viola soundposts and bridges, five cello soundposts and bridges and one bass soundpost and bridge. (Prerequisites: VLNR1301, VLNR1305, VLNR1321) (8 credits: 2 lecture/6 lab)

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8 cr
Violin Repairing
This course covers basic violin family repair work. (Prerequisites: VLNR1301, VLNR1305, VLNR1327, VLNR1341) (8 credits: 2 lecture/6 lab)

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8 cr
35 crs
Violin Construction I
Violin Construction is for students wishing to learn the basics of building a violin. The course covers tool skills, use of appropriate materials, points of violin making style, and some historic context. (Prerequisites: Introduction to Tools, and Basic Materials, or instructor permission) (6 credits: 2 lecture/4 lab)

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6 cr
Violin Construction II
This is the Spring Semester continuation of VLNR1370. (Prerequisites: VLNR1372 and VLNR1373, or VLNR1370) (6 credits: 2 lecture/4 lab)

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6 cr
12 crs

Total Credits Required for this Major: 39 Credits

Estimated Costs for this Major

Approximate Tuition/Fees:$8,369
Minimum Tool Cost:$1,450
Estimated Total:$9,939


Career Opportunities

  • Music Stores
  • Repair Shops
  • Musical Instrument Manufacturers
  • Entrepreneurial Opportunities


Program graduates will be able to:

  1. Perform setups on violins and bows
  2. Diagnose and perform repairs on violins and bows
  3. Identify and use ingredients used in violin varnish and touch-up
  4. Prepare and use hand and power tools
  5. Identify instrument woods and related materials
  6. Restore and make violins


  • Unique in length and comprehensiveness in the United States


Charlotte Matis
Charlotte Matis graduated from MSC Southeast in 2002 with a diploma in Violin Repair, and also completed Archtop Instrument Construction in 2003. After a year doing repair in Milwaukee at Cascio Interstate Music, she moved to the workshop at Claire Givens Violins, whom she worked for until 2012. That spring she opened Blackbird's Music Store in Minneapolis, where she is shop foreman and teaches violin. Charlotte can also be found playing her fiddle with various local bands.
Stephen Rossow
Steve Rossow earned diplomas from the Guitar Repair & Building and Violin Repair programs in at MSC Southeast 2002. He apprenticed with luthier John R. Waddle in Saint Paul, under whom he studied violin making and restoration. Returning to MSC Southeast as a full-time instructor in 2010, Steve designed a curriculum for incorporating CNC work into guitar making and teaches computer-aided drafting and CNC in second year guitar program. He also teaches in the Violin Repair program.

Instrument Close Ups

Learn more about the musical instrument repair programs on our Red Wing campus at


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RED WING CAMPUS | 308 Pioneer Road | Red Wing, MN 55066 | 651-385-6300
WINONA CAMPUS | 1250 Homer Road | Winona, MN 55987 | 507-453-2700

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