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Sylvie Raynaud 

Professionally trained
and fully qualified in Cremona Italy

Stradivari in Cremona

Work experiences around the world

  • 5 years experience in Cremona Italy

  • 6 years experience in Mexico

  • 6 years experience in New Zealand

  • Few month experience in France


About Sylvie

Sylvie Raynaud Luthier | Violin repair | Auckland NZ

I grew up in France, close to Paris. I started to show interest in the violins at age 6, after going to a concert with my grandma. But it was only at age 12 that I had my fisrt violin lesson. After four years of not missing one day of practise, my other grandma, observed my passion and gave me an old violin that had been sitting in the atic for many years. It was a late 18th century Mirecourt violin, which belonged to my great grand father. The violin was in poor condition: it had broken gut strings, the neck had become unglued, it had double soundpost post cracks in the belly, a funny rounded shape of burnt varnish on the belly by the chinrest - which I later discovered was the consequence of my great grandfather smoking while playing the violin... a strange habit that was quite commun back in the days... - and had a word hand carved into the varnish in the back saying "Wagner" ... just because great granddad was a fan of Wagner!

The poor violin! - it definitely needed some love and care. 

I loved doing crafts, so I thought I might be able to repair this violin. Somehow, I knew that when a violin had a soundpost crack, the top plate had to be removed with a knife. So here I was, trying to open the violin with mum's kitchen knife. I then realized it was not a good idea - the kitchen knife was not the appropriate tool. The task was much more complicated than I imagined. I needed some proper tools and the right knowledge. The challenge awakened a deeper interest in my curious mind. At that time, the internet didn't exist and the luthiers of rue de Rome in Paris did not want to share their knowledge.  So I went on a quest to gather the information that I would need to repair the violin. That included visiting the most ancient libraries in Paris to learn about violin repair and restoration. 

At that time, I also assisted to an extra curriculum course in La Sorbonne Paris, about acoustic physics applied to musical instruments. The course was the intersection between music, instruments and physics. 3 of my favourite topic to explore. During that time I was made aware of a 2 week workshop with the luthier Bernard Poulelaouen, to built a dulcimer from scratch (middle age poppular plugged string instrument) . I didn't think twice and soon to Chinon, France, making my first instrument. During the workshop Bernard directed me toward a few violin making schools. I choose the violin making school of Cremona Italy because of the top quality of the cremonese tradition, home town of Stradivarius, Amati and many more great luthiers. 

I started the violin making school in Cremona in september 1990 under the guidance of the masters Massimo Negroni and  then Giorgio Scolari. The school was a full time 4 years learning. But for some reason, I fully finished the school and graduated in 3 years. A part from the program I was following at schoool, I was also working in the evenings, under the guidance of Luthiers Daniele Ciaccio and Aldo Brugnini, repairing a few old instruments, and of course my gran grandad's violin, bringing it back proudly to a full working state. Up to now, I am still playing it from time to time. 

After graduating, I maried one of my school mate: Ricardo Perez, violin maker, from Mexico, then we moved together to Mexico in septembre 1995 to establish our workshop Pérez & Raynaud, where we built professional level instruments while also providing repair service, conservation, restoration and maintenance of instruments for music schools, conservatories, orchestras, and professional musicians. After working together for 11 years we split and I went to canada for 7 month to a meditation and yoga retreat centre then I came back to Mexico for another 6 years, teaching yoga and meditation, untill I moved to New Zealand.  

It is only in 2016 that I re-connected with my first passion discovering "by mistake" the stringed instruments company in Mount Eden, Auckland while visiting a friend near by. I ended up working happily for 6 years repairing violins, violas and cellos while improving my restoration techniques and deepening my knowledge with Gavin Macalister and Cath Mayo. Being in contact with a huge amout of instruments of all sorts and playing them before and after each interventions gave me a  profound undertanding of the acousic implications of any little modification. I have always been fascinated by the magic behing the production of the sound of the violin, and being able to bring an instrument to its fullest capacity of expression has always been my highest satisfaction at work. 

Towards the end of my collaboration at the stringed instrument company, I started to be interested in playing the cello, I am still enjoying playing it from time to time. That gave me a better understanding of the mecanics of this instrument and how to give a better service to my customers. 

During the summer 2022 I worked in collaboration with Olivier Cameille, at "Atelier scordatura" in Montpellier France for 2 month, exchanging interesting ideas, and methods about set up and restoration, understanding better the "French school" and the implications for the mecanics and acoustic of the instruments. 

In January 2023 I opened my own business in St Heliers, Auckland, ofering repair, restoration, sound adjustments, set up and maintenance to violins, violas and Cellos. I also offer a few sellected instruments and bows for sale. 

My highest satisfaction at work are:

-Looking at the combination violin - bow - musician - style of music - as a multidimentional entity and discovering how to bring the best out of the instrument for the need of the musician and the style of music they are playing. 

-Retouching varnish is a kind of deep meditation for me. I is not something that I consciously learnt, it just came intuitively into my hands. 

-The endless refinment and learning from each interaction with a new instrument and a new customer, rediscovering every day the simplicity, the complexity and the delicacy of the stringed instruments, where each 10th of a milimeter can have a huge impact in the sound and the playability. 

-Being able to bring back to life jowels that were created a few century ago, filling a timeless connection with great makers, admirering their knowledge and genious, and listening to those anciant instrument singing again.  

-Being able to work with my hands, my eyes, my ears, my head, my heart and my ituition all together.  There are not many jobs on earth that require such an complete involvment  as a human being. This gives me a sense of total satisfaction and completeness. 

-I love making the musicians happy, for them to reach the maximum expression and then listening to them playing the best music. 

- I feel blessed to be able to turn a passion into a service that gives me the means to enjoy life. 

Thank you for reading until the end. See you in my workshop.

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