The Chicago School of Violin Making provides training in violin making to a diverse and international student body. Believing that string music greatly enriches our lives and communities, the school has three main goals: to produce graduates ready to enter the profession of making, repairing, and restoring violin family instruments; to promote the highest levels of traditional craftsmanship to serve musicians and their instruments; and to build awareness of and appreciation for the art of violin making.
The school began in 1975, when the family of Kenneth Warren and Son recruited a talented employee to teach violin making. The Warrens recognized a need for trained professionals to work on instruments and saw a violin-making school as the best way to get there.
Tschu Ho Lee proved to be a fine choice to teach. He was and still is a Master violin maker, trained in Mittenwald, Germany. Mr. Lee began with 8 students, and soon had 16, housed at Kenneth Warren and Sons.
In 1983, Tschu Ho Lee took on the full responsibility for the school and moved, with about twenty students, to a building on the north side of Chicago. He remembers working 10 to 11 hours a day, teaching and continuing to make his own instruments. After many generations of graduates, the school moved again to its current location at 3636 Oakton Street in Skokie, IL.
A new chapter began when Mr. Lee retired. He left the school in capable hands, under the Directorship of his two teachers, Fredric Thompson and Rebecca Elliott. To ensure that the school would continue, they arranged to incorporate as a not-for-profit school. They formed a Board of Directors, with Board President Jim Zartman, who set up the school as a 501c3 entity. Mr. Lee continues to visit the school, checking students’ work and showing them his newest instruments.
The Chicago School of Violin Making has been teaching students for 42 years. We now have more than 200 graduates in the field, working throughout the US, in Canada, France, Sweden, Korea, Singapore, and South America on some of the finest instruments for both solo performers and musicians in top orchestras. Some have shops that provide instruments for young students. Some are fine makers. All together our grads have raised the level of workmanship on string instruments.