Craft Practices - Musical Instruments

FdA Historic Craft Practices – Musical Instruments

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FdA Historic Craft Practices - Musical Instruments
Duration: 2 academic years (each 36 weeks) full time

Register now for Open Day on Friday 6 December.
Find out about funding opportunities.

If your goal is to set up an instrument-making workshop or to work in the trade, this programme is internationally respected for the high level craftsmanship students attain. It encompasses the whole field of stringed musical instrument making. This enables students to then transfer their skills to making any stringed musical instrument, including guitar and violin. Through learning and assessing the historical approach to constructing the viola da gamba, students are equipped with a broad knowledge and ability to assess construction for a wide range of stringed musical instruments.

You can expect

  • To learn basic tool skills and advance to decorative and head carving, purfling design and motif
  • To study instrument design, history and playing
  • To complete up to three instrument making projects a year (you will be able to keep the first instrument you make and keep additional instruments for a nominal fee to cover the cost of materials).
  • To learn restoration and repair techniques
  • To develop skills in machine setting, woodturning, varnishing, care of timber/tone-wood
  • Visiting tutors in Bow-making, pigment laking, soundboard construction etc.
  • Playing lessons by early music professionals
  • To attend events such as the Greenwich International Early Music Exhibition
  • To have the opportunity to sell instruments through the College with the income split 50:50

Learning environment

  • High tutor: student ratio
  • Your own bench in the workshop with access 8.30am-10pm, 7 days a week
  • A professional environment that encourages a business-like approach
  • Lectures, tutorials and demonstrations
  • Study tours and visits to specialist collections

Facilities

You will work in the purpose-built musical instrument making workshop. Collaboration with other disciplines (e.g. metals and clocks) makes for a uniquely enriched learning environment.

Facilities include:

  • A separate machine shop
  • Varnishing room
  • Analytical laboratory
  • Photography space
  • IT suite
  • Specialist library

The on-site Art and Conservation Library puts thousands of specialist books and journals within your reach and you can access specialist databases in the IT suite.

Find out more about the facilities

Contact Hours

Teaching

You are taught through a combination of lectures, seminars, external trips and visits and workshop practicals. In addition, you have personal tutorials with your subject tutor.

At level 4 you typically have around 18-19 contact hours per week, typically consisting of:

  • 4-5 hours of lectures
  • 1 hour of seminars
  • 8 hours of supervised workshop practicals
  • 4 hours of external trips & visits (on average)
  • 1 hour of one-to-one meetings/tutorials

At level 5 you typically have around 16-17 contact hours per week, typically consisting of:

  • 3-4 hours of lectures
  • 1 hour of seminars
  • 7 hours of supervised workshop practicals
  • 4 hours of external trips and visits (on average)
  • 1 hour of one-to-one meetings/tutorials

Independent learning

When not attending lectures, seminars and workshop or other timetabled sessions you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. Typically, this will involve reading journal articles and books, working on individual and group projects, undertaking research in the library and preparing coursework assignments and presentations.

Overall workload

Level 4: 53% of your time is spent in scheduled teaching and learning activity
Scheduled teaching and learning: 633 hours
Independent learning: 567 hours

Level 5: 50% of your time is spent in scheduled teaching and learning activity
Scheduled teaching and learning: 600 hours
Independent learning: 600 hours

Programme Structure Year 1

 

Programme Structure Year 2

Entry requirements

UCAS tariff points: 120 Completion of a level 3 qualification, for example: A-Levels, BTEC or Foundation Diploma in Art and Design.

Applicants can be considered if they can provide evidence of prior learning with an appropriate portfolio of work. You will be invited to a Portfolio interview.

International applicants should provide a digital portfolio, evidence of English language ability to Level B2 (IELTS 6.0), as well as equivalent level 3 qualifications.

Fees

Course fees are the same for UK and international students

  • £4,230 per term (£12,690 per year)

Included is mandatory study trip costs of £400, which typically includes tailored visits to collections/exhibitions of specific interest to the programme of study.

Additional costs

Lunch, accommodation and other living expenses are additional. Find out more

Student scholarships and bursaries

Scholarship and bursary awards are available for students who have accepted an offer to study at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation. Applicants for a scholarship award should show outstanding potential and a commitment to their studies and future career in their chosen subject. Applicants for a bursary award are required to demonstrate financial need.

 

Find out more about funding opportunities

Careers

Graduates have become professional makers and repairers. They have gone on to work with J & A Beare Ltd and J P Guivier, both in London, and William Monical & Son, Staten Island, New York. Others have ultimately set up their own practice.

Student perspective

"The level of learning is higher here which is why I and many students from Europe come to West Dean College. We're making in an authentic way, using hand tools, learning about materials, looking at original instruments and building a wide knowledge. We've had specialist trips and access to renowned experts.

What I most enjoy is the pure focus on full-time making and all day workshop access. We're all interested in guitars and enjoy the same music, so the workshop is a great environment.

Our tutor is a professional, well-known instrument maker who teaches us methods to maximise productivity, alongside high level skills. When I graduate I will work first in a violin or cello repair workshop, before going into private practice to focus on making and restoration.

Funding made studying at West Dean possible for me and it has been totally worth it. I applied for bursaries in Holland then, in my second year to The Edward James Foundation at West Dean and private foundations in the UK. I advise any student not to be put off by fees as it is all possible."

Fons Vogel, Musical Instruments student

Musical Heritage at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation

Curatorial Assistant Sarah Hughes shares insights from the college's rich archive of material, shining a light on Edward James musical patronage and collaborations, from the 1930s to the 1970s.

Find out more

Tutors

Shem Mackey MA

Visiting Craftsman

Shem Mackey is a founder member of the British Violin Making Association (BVMA) and founder editor of its newsletter. His research into instrument construction has been published in The Strad, Early Music and various publications of the BVMA and Viola da Gamba Society.

Dr Nicholas Pyall

Subject Leader FdA Historic Craft Practices

Nick specialises in instruments inspired by Viennese guitars of the early and mid-nineteenth century, including those with extra bass strings, and the mid-twentieth-century guitars of the North American 'golden era' of acoustic guitar making. In recent years his passion has led to him studying the instrument's development and societal history.

How to apply

If you are interested in applying for this course or would like further information please contact admissions either by enquiring online or calling the number below. To make your application you will need to download and fill out our application form.

Open Day - register today

Come and find out what makes West Dean College of Arts and Conservation such an amazing place to study. Explore the studios, take a tour with students, discuss your study options, and find out about funding at our next Open Day on:

Friday 6 December 2019

Register your place and find out more