Select an instrument in advance from the list given below, and learn the principles of making, assembling and finishing your chosen instrument.
For complete beginners, it gives the opportunity to experience the sense of satisfaction of making a musical instrument from scratch using traditional methods. Instruction is given in the principles of making, assembling and finishing your chosen instrument to a state where is can be strung and played. However, please note that depending on the instrument chosen, and your making experience and skills, it may be necessary to return to subsequent courses to complete your instrument – please ask your tutor about this. Prior wood working experience though not necessary, is an advantage.
Materials and techniques covered:
- The ability to choose woods suitable for musical instrument making.
- Gain skills in the use of basic woodworking and some specialist tools relevant to instrument making, in the types of joints and glues, and in working with thin sections of wood.
- Learn techniques of shaping wood by carving and bending and of adding simple decoration.
- Theory and practice of stringed instrument set up, bridge and fret positions.
If you have previous experience of instrument making, you will extend your skills in the making of musical instruments by traditional methods.
Materials and techniques covered:
- Using an extended choice of suitable woods you will increase your skills in the use of tools specific to lutherie.
- Thicknessing of wood down to one to two millimetres.
- Complex bending and jointing, carving and applying decoration to the instrument.
- Theory and practice of stringed instrument set-up including choice of strings, bridge and fret positions and adjustment of playing ‘action’.
Teaching is generally on a one-to-one basis catering for individual needs and dictated by ability, previous experience and knowledge. There are group demonstrations where appropriate. As the course takes place in a large workshop, adjacent to the other courses in this series, you also gain knowledge by interaction with fellow students and other tutors. Instrument drawings are provided by the tutors.
West Dean College has run musical instrument making courses for more than 40 years. This nine-day and supplementary five-day courses run in the Short Course Programme for amateur makers. It can provide an insight to those considering applying for full-time study on the College’s FdA Historic Craft Practices – Musical Instruments.
TIMETABLE VARIATION: teaching ends at 12.30 on final day/workshop cleared by 3.30pm.
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.
Andy has been attending the West Dean Musical Instrument Making Course for over 35 years, firstly as a student and then as a tutor. His work as a restorer and maker in the horological and musical genres gives particular insight into technical aspects, especially for keyboard instruments and hurdy-gurdies, which have some "engineering" content.