Historic Craft Practices - Musical Instruments

FdA Historic Craft Practices – Musical Instruments

The next Open Day will take place on Saturday 4 February 2017. Learn more


Duration: 2 academic years (each 36 weeks) full time

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 transfer their skills to making any stringed musical instrument of your choice. 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
  • 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

Learning environment

  • High tutor: student ratio
  • Your own bench in the workshop with access 7am-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

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, FdA Historic Craft Practices - Musical Instruments

Entry requirements

Formerly West Dean College Diploma (University of Sussex award) The FdA will appeal to you if you are aiming for further study or are an international student. A good standard of general education to level 3, for example: A-levels, BTEC or Foundation Diploma in Art and Design, combined with evidence of prior learning and an appropriate portfolio of work.

English language: CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) level B2 or IELTS 6.0 or above.

Facilities

You will work in the purpose-built Musical Instrument Making workshop. Specialist facilities include a separate machine shop and varnishing room.

Other facilities on site include an Analytical laboratory, computer suite and the Library with thousands of specialist books, journals and databases.

Fees

  • UK/EU Fee: £13,140 pa

Fees payable by term, 2 weeks in advance of term start date

Application deadline for 2017 entry: 1 March 2017.

Find out about funding here

Tutors

Shem Mackey (MA)

Programme Leader - Musical Instruments

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.

Nick Pyall

Subject Tutor: Dr Nicholas Pyall

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.

Program advisors

Associate Tutor: Jonathan Hill

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.

+44 (0)1243 818 291