DESCRIBE YOUR APPROACH TO TEACHING
I try to impart a fascination for the subject matter along with the skills required to carry out the work.
WHAT WILL STUDENTS GAIN IF THEY COME ON ONE OF YOUR COURSES?
Understanding of, and increased skills in the processes required in woodwind instrument making. Some understanding of the workings of woodwinds and the techniques of adjusting their playing characters. Students will also learn about toolmaking and equipment required should they want to continue instrument making at home.
ARE THERE ANY PARTICULAR TECHNIQUES/PROCESSES YOU USE IN YOUR TEACHING?
Set projects are used to cover the required techniques and skills.Teaching is workshop-based, and progresses from practical demonstrations of techniques and principles, through individual support and guidance with tools and equipment. Students learn through doing; discussion and experimentation are also important.
WHAT INSPIRES YOUR OWN WORK?
Musical instrument making exists in a fascinating intersection of craft, art, and science. As tools to serve the player, instruments provide expressive capabilities for the player to harness to their musical artistry. Those capabilities are achieved through the craftsmanship of the maker, and the maker’s own artistry is expressed in the characteristics (as well as the appearance) of the instrument. At the same time, these characteristics are the result of complex physics – the acoustics of woodwind instruments rapidly reaches into esoteric mathematics and imaginary numbers – yet these complexities are yoked to musical use in a (relatively) simple tube of wood with holes in the side!
I am also fascinated by the great flowering of inventiveness and creativity in music and instrument making that occurred in the renaissance and baroque eras. With relatively simple technology, instrument makers in those times took woodwinds from simple types to heights of sophistication, with musical capabilities to match the explosion in complexity and expressivity occurring in music composition.
WHERE CAN STUDENTS SEE EXAMPLES OF YOUR WORK?
WHERE DID YOU GAIN YOUR TRAINING/EXPERIENCE? (INCLUDE ANY QUALIFICATIONS)
I studied at the London College of Furniture in the early 1980s, completing the HND course in 1985, and have been making woodwinds professionally ever since. I also studied recorder making with Alec Loretto at Schloss Breiteneich in 1983. I have recently completed a doctorate at the London Metropolitan University on ‘The Baroque Bassoon: Form, Construction, Acoustics and Playing Qualities’
WHAT TEACHING EXPERIENCE HAVE YOU HAD?
I have taught evening and day classes in woodwind making at the London Metropolitan University (and its predecessors), from 1990-2000 and have restarted evening classes last year. I have also taught ‘Music and Technology’ and other classes at the LMU and ‘The Technology of Music’ with the Open University.
IS YOUR WORK IN ANY PUBLIC OR PRIVATE COLLECTIONS?
My instruments have been bought by many of the music colleges in this country: Royal College of Music, Royal Northern College of Music, Royal Academy of Music, Guildhall School of Music, Trinity College of Music, Birmingham Conservatory, and abroad in Leipzig, Sydney and Perth. Private owners include professional players in the main orchestras and ensembles in this country and abroad, as well as students and amateurs.
HAVE YOU WRITTEN ANY BOOKS/HAD ARTICLES PUBLISHED?
‘A Newly Discovered English Bassoon by Sinderby’, in Celebrating Double Reeds: A Festschrift for William Waterhouse and Philip Bate, ed. by Terry B. Ewell (U.S.A: The International Double Reed Society, 2009)
DO YOU BELONG TO ANY PROFFESSIONAL GROUPS/SOCIETIES?
I am a committee member of the Galpin Society, and member of the Fellowship of Makers and Researchers of Historical Instruments, and of the British Double Reed Society.