During the course you should increase your knowledge and extend your skills in making of musical instruments by traditional methods. The outcome is guided by individual projects and goals.
For beginners this course offers the opportunity to experience the sense of satisfaction of making a musical instrument from scratch. Instruction is given in the principles of making, assembling and setting up your chosen instrument, either a medieval bowed rebec or renaissance treble viol. The model you make is decided on with the tutor. The intention is that you will be able to complete one of these instruments over the nine-days, but depending on your level of ability this is not always possible. A more complex bowed instrument will certainly take more than one course to complete. Prior wood working experience though not necessary, is an advantage.
For those with previous instrument making experience, instruction is given in the principles of making, assembling and setting up a Viola da Gamba, or work on one already started with the tutor. If starting a new instrument, the model is decided on in agreement with the tutor - please note a Viola da Gamba will require attendance of three or four courses to complete.
Materials and techniques covered are as appropriate to individual requirements. You will work in wood (spruce, maple, ebony and fruit woods). General techniques covered during making the instruments are planing, filing, sawing, gluing, with more specialist techniques of bending, carving, and inlaying introduced when necessary.
Teaching is generally on a one-to-one basis catering for your individual needs and dictated by previous experience, knowledge and ability. There are group demonstrations where appropriate. As the course takes place in a large workshop, adjacent to the other courses in this series, interaction with fellow students and other tutors also plays a valuable role in the learning process.
West Dean College has run musical instrument making courses for more than 40 years. This nine-day and supplementary five-day courses can provide an insight into full-time study on the College's FdA Historic Craft Practices - Musical Instruments.
Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential to arrive by 6.45pm
6.45pm Welcome followed by dinner (included)
8.00-9.00pm First teaching session, attendance is essential
9.15-5.00pm Classes (lunch included)
From 6.30pm Dinner (included)
Evening working – Students may have access to workshops, but only with their tutor’s permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.
9.15am-12.30pm Classes (lunch included). Workshops must be cleared by 3.30pm.
Residential students to vacate rooms by10am.
Please note: Humidity levels in the workshop are variable to dry; whilst the College has addressed this, some factors are beyond our control, therefore instruments are brought and left in the workshop at your own risk. Each tutor will take a half-day break, in rotation with the other tutors, to be decided during the week. They will discuss suitable work for that session with you if you wish to continue working.
" Great course with many friends returning each year. Excellent food. Beautiful gardens, river stunning, and the lambs are a delight "
Renate Fink trained at the London College of Furniture, later London Guildhall University as a maker of early fretted instruments. She worked for several violin shops in England and on the continent before setting up her own business. She has been teaching at West Dean since 1998. Renate is a member of the British Violinmaking Association.