LEARNING TO MAKE, REPAIR AND RESTORE VIOLINS
For anyone who hasn’t yet heard the EastCastShow radio interview with Gary Bridgewood the first part of it gives an interesting, surprising and humorous insight into the beginnings of Bridgewood & Neitzert. Here’s the link again: https://www.eastcastshow.com/2013/12/behind-scenes-at-bridgewood-neitzert-in.html.
The show covers Gary’s memories of the first workshop above a betting office in Dalston in 1982 and a rather unexpected and frightening encounter with the machete-wielding ‘Captain Kirk’ from the flat below!
In the interview Gary recalls the move to and renovation of the 2nd premises in Northwold Road Stoke Newington before the move to present day shop and workshop in Stoke Newington Church Street.
Another particular point of interest in the interview is the fact that when Gary began his training course at the London College of Furniture in 1979 an apprenticeship specifically in violin making was not an option. Gary had already been making violins prior to taking the course, but was interested to discover that there was a Violin Marking Department in the London College of Furniture!
Things are different now for budding stringed instrument makers. Since 1995 there has even been a British Violin Making Association https://www.bvma.org.uk/index.html which reportedly has about 500 members in the UK and abroad.
Courses for violin making are now more widely available too. For example:
The Newark School of violin making https://www.lincolncollege.ac.uk/school-musical-instrument-crafts/newark-school-of-violin-making as part of Lincoln College has links with the BVMA, Luthiers Sans Frontiers and the Italian violin making centre of Cremona.
South Thames College runs a Musical Instrument Making and Repair Course – https://www.south-thames.ac.uk/courses/musical-instrument-making-and-repair.html.
West Dean College in Chichester offers an excellent course and also very interesting residential weekends – https://www.westdean.org.uk/CollegeChannel/FullTimeCourses/MakingStringedMusi
There are also lots of different violin making courses of different levels run by individual violin makers and creative workshops around the UK.
All of this should hopefully mean that art of violin making and the many skills, techniques and tips for making, repairing and restoring violins can be passed on to new generations.