DAY 3 : Becoming a luthier

The violin project has proved equally exciting for adults and children, and we’ve enjoyed having some little helpers here with us. We also started thinking about how one might grow up to become a luthier and asked our resident luthiers about how their careers developed in this niche and exacting profession.

Mark: “After finishing high school at 18 I knew I wanted to go to college to study a hands-on craft-based course. I had a great woodwork teacher at school and I spent a lot of time in the workshop there. As I played guitar I thought I would attend the Instrument Technology course at Merton College in London. It was structured like a foundation course and I learnt about repairing all kind of instruments. The violin workshop picked me very quickly. Before going there I didn’t even know that the violin had a sound post, and as I had never played a violin I started having lessons through college (which I traded for English lessons). After this I continued studying in Newark School of Violin Making before starting my career as a luthier.”

Peter: “I started playing the violin when I was 10 and was very keen to make this my profession but felt I had started too late. However, since I was so inspired by violin music I thought I needed to be part of this world, and when I was 14 I made my first violin with a carpenter in my home-town. I still own this violin. As an initially self-taught luthier I developed outside any one particular tradition and have therefore been very open to ideas which are not accepted by many violin makers. When I left school I studied violin-making in Bonn, and then musicology in Cologne where I met Dr Dünnwald, a specialist in violin acoustics which whom I found a different approach to the sound of the violin which is still the basis of my craft.”