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First ever violin-making school nationwide is right here in Utah

Founded in 1972 by original owner Peter Prier, the school was the first in the country teaching students how to design and build their own violins.

(KUTV) Every year, students learn to play musical instruments. One of the most popular here in Utah is the violin.

In the heart of Salt Lake City is one of the only shops in the country that teaches students how to design and build their own violins.

The Violin Making School of America first opened by Peter Prier back in 1972 – located on the corner of 200 South and 300 East. The school was the first violin making school in the United States at the time, but it’s prestige has grown from there.

Students came from all over the world to learn how to design and fashion hand-crafted violins – worth thousands of dollars.

Charles Woolf started as a student in the 80s and now runs the school; he says there's a steady demand for hand-crafted violins.

“A machine-made violin just doesn't have the same quality as a well-made, handmade instrument,” Woolf explained.

For new students, it takes months to build just one violin. Students intricately carve and design everything about the violin, testing as they go. Students even create their own polish for the violin, right inside the shop.

Woolf says the school, operating now for more than 40 years, attracts an international following,

“All of the great players of our time have been to this school,” he explained. “Isaac Stern, Itzhak Perlman, Joshua Bell, Yoyo-Ma. I could go on.”

That's what brought Aubrey Alexander to Utah years ago.

“I got an accounting degree just like my dad wanted me to, then when I was in my junior year at Southwestern (University in Texas), I realized I still wanted to be a violin maker,” Alexander explained.

She moved from Texas to study at the Violin Making School of America, and now decades later, she’s still here - teaching woodworking to students.

“I started basic, how to make a template, how to make a mold, then we start them on the model you want to make,” she explains about the teaching process.

These hand crafted violins are more expensive than machine made, but violin makers here say they're worth it.

“Hundreds of hours their time, their emotion, their soul, goes into the instrument, so it's worth every penny if you ask me,” Alexander said.

Demand hasn't gone away, and this school plans to be in business for years to come.

The original owner of the school, Peter Prier, died last year, but his sons are still involved. They own a violin sales and repair shop right next door.

The school accepts a couple dozen students every year.

For more information about the school, visit their website.

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