International Violin Workshop


The Berkshires region is well known for its musical venues, including Tanglewood. But relatively few are aware that, year after year, some of the world's most dedicated violinists come to MCLA to perfect a rare skill: repairing and restoring this stringed instrument.

Each summer, internationally renowned violin restorer Hans J. Nebel teaches his craft to select groups of students - at workshops held at MCLA and in Parma, Italy. A graduate of the Bavarian State School of Violinmaking in Mittenwald, Germany, the master craftsman is the fourth generation of violin makers in his family.

In addition to nearby places like New York, Connecticut and Vermont, students come to the MCLA workshops from states such as  Hawaii, Georgia, Texas, Alabama and Ohio, and from as far away as Italy and Korea.

According to Kelly Jourdain, program coordinator for MCLA's department of continuing and professional education, the annual summer workshop series is always a popular offering. In addition to the draw of spending time in the Berkshires, students appreciate Nebel's skill and knowledge.

"He has a following of faithful students who keep returning here to learn new things," Jourdain said. "Many times we'll get letters of gratitude from his students, who write about what they learned, thanks to his expertise. That happens a lot."

Every June and July, Nebel offers four of eight different sessions, which he teaches at the beginning, intermediate and advanced levels. This summer, 34 students enrolled in the workshops, the most popular of which was "Advanced Violin Repair," which focuses repairing cracks. Another workshop featured one of the most difficult and time-consuming aspects of violin repair - retouching the varnish.

While at MCLA, the students take full advantage of learning from Nebel.

"Any of the free time, they're in the workshop, connecting with him. Often times they're back on campus during the evening hours after their daytime lessons. The students get together and continue to work on what they learned in repairing their violin," said Jourdain. "There's a nice cohesive group that forms, even within that short period of time, in the interest of the violin. They don't know each other when they get here, but we're amazed at how quickly the make bonds - especially with Hans. I think that's why he gets so many repeat customers."

Nebel started his professional career at Rembert Wurlitzer, Inc., in New York City, where he worked for 18 years. He became a long-term disciple of Maestro S.F. Sacconi, the universally acknowledged dean and originator of modern repair technique and restoration. He ultimately was appointed head of the restoration department at Wurlitzer, a firm that was considered the Mecca of the violin business in the United States.

Nebel has had his own business in New Jersey since 1974, which specializes in major restoration and the sale of quality stringed instruments and bows. In addition to teaching his craft throughout the world, Nebel accompanied the New York Philharmonic on its tour of the Far East as a caretaker of their fine instruments.

For more information about this workshop series, contact the Office of Continuing and Professional Education, (413-662-5543 or go to violinrepairworkshop .