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Kitchen Table Workshop Series
LEVEL I - Selecting and Caring for Bowed Stringed Instruments

Audience: Parents, Students, Educators
Length: 55 minutes
Fee: Travel and lodging expenses; Tuition-free for Educational Organizations

This lecture provides an overview of the history and care of stringed instruments. Included in the discussion is an analysis of how violins, violas, cellos and bases are constructed including the materials used as well as varying styles of construction, history, countries of origin, and how these variables affect the need for regular maintenance.

The presentation will cover what common products are most effective for the control of humidity, keeping the tuning pegs working smoothly, and the basics of soundpost adjustments, bridges, and the various different kinds of strings.

There will also be a review of bows, bow maintenance, and differing styles and materials involved in bow construction.

Finally, there will be a 10-minute question-and-answer period that is open to audience discussion of repair topics. The presentation also will include insider tips on shopping for instruments and an overview of the effect of the internet on the music business.

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LEVEL II - Basic Stringed Instrument Repair & Maintenance

Audience: Advanced Students and Educators
Length: 4 hours
Fee: $300 plus travel and lodging expenses

This workshop includes all of the topics included in the Level I lecture, as well as an in-depth demonstration of actual repair processes and techniques. Dalton will show you how to cut a bridge, refit friction pegs, and properly fit and set up the sound posts.

The presentation also will cover tips on installing strings and tailguts, basic maintenance, and potential repair needs. "Quick-repair" of uneven nuts, bridges, and loose fingerboards will be demonstrated. Dalton will also cover gluing open seams and repairing broken necks in inexpensive instruments.

Students are encouraged to bring in instruments for close examination and potential repair during the class. If possible, depending on the class size and if time allows, students will have a hands-on opportunity to "up" a fallen soundpost. Course materials and tools will be available for purchase at the beginning of class.

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Kitchen Table Workshop Brochure

LEVEL III – Kitchen Table Violin Repairs

Audience: Advanced Students and Educators
Length: Three part, seven-hour course
Fees: $1,500 for the first 12 students; $150 per additional student (up to 20 students) plus travel and lodging expenses;
Additional costs for course materials and required tools (up to $700)

This is a three-part course that covers the same material as the previous levels except that the first three hours are essentially the Level II course compressed into an intensive 3-hour segment. The rest of the time is devoted to a completely hands-on intensive violin, viola and cello repair and adjustment workshop. "First watch, then do" is the basic method for imparting the most commonly performed repair and maintenance procedures. The workshop will cover setup and performance issues; fitting new bridges, soundposts, and pegs; gluing seams; and changing tailpieces, tuners, strings and chinrests. Dalton also will cover some "insider tips" on how to achieve acceptable playing conditions in emergency situations. Procedures for repairing broken cello and bass necks and other stubborn and expensive repair challenges will be covered.

This is a very intensive, fast-paced, one day course that will enable most strings teachers, band and orchestra directors to acquire the basic skills necessary to maintain the stringed instruments under their care. By the end of the day, each student will have fit at least one bridge on either a violin, viola or cello. Additionally, each student will have resurfaced a fingerboard, re-cut and re-glued a nut, reset an existing soundpost, learned the basics of measuring and cutting a new soundpost, and entirely set up an instrument by themselves.

Kitchen table violin repairs can be a messy process, so students are asked to wear closed footwear and "stainable" clothing or smocks. Students or their sponsoring schools are expected to purchase the requisite tools and course materials for their own permanent use and ownership. Tools and materials will be available at the time of the course.

PLEASE NOTE: Because this workshop involves using sharp tools and materials that can be dangerous if mishandled, all participants will be required to present a liability release form signed by both the student and a representative of their sponsoring organization before starting the course. Students without the release form will not be allowed to participate in any "hands-on" activities.

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About Dalton Potter

L. Dalton PotterL. Dalton Potter, owner and president of The Potter Violin Company in Bethesda, Maryland, has been building and repairing stringed instruments for more than 30 years.

Dalton has written and spoken extensively on the importance of quality instruments in early string music education and maintains a close relationship with many institutions nationwide, including the American String Teachers Association, the National Association for Music Education, and the Suzuki Association of the Americas. He is the author of Kitchen Table Violin Repairs, an emergency manual for string players and teachers. In addition, he takes great pride in being an active and supportive member of the strings community by sponsoring local orchestras and speaking at workshops, camps, and universities around the country.

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