As a professional violin repairer and restorer I have been involved in the violin trade for over 30 years.
I have extensive experience of working on violins, violas and cellos by many different makers and ranging from old Italian to today’s modern instruments.
Before moving to Berwick upon Tweed, Northumberland, I was workshop manager for the world-renowned violin restorers and dealers, J.P.Guivier & Co. Ltd of London.
I restored, repaired, carried out tonal adjustments for professional orchestral players, trained workshop staff, made sales and much more! I have continued to develop all these amazing skills over the years.
Leeds College of Music
My introduction to repair work was 2 years on the C.M.I.T. course in Leeds, learning to repair all orchestral instruments. As a grade 8 oboist I intended to specialise in woodwind. However, after spending 2 years under the guidance of Kevin Wilkes (ex Hill’s), on violin repair and bow rehair, I found my true direction.
Instrumentally we had to study 5 instruments. I studied oboe with Mike McKenna, bassoon with Roy Walmsley, cello, flute and trumpet. I enjoyed every minute playing first oboe for the Leeds 2nd Symphony Orchestra.
Encouraged by my tutors to try a making course, I decided on London. At the time, an easy decision. The best restorers, dealers and sale rooms would be on my doorstep.
London College of Furniture
Pat Naismith led the course and also brought in Philip Knight, Mick Shakespeare and Malcolm Healey to name but a few. These tutors were invaluable. Each ran their own successful business and generously taught us the tricks of the trade. Regular visits from William Luff, arguably the greatest English maker of the 20th Century (and Pat Naismith’s teacher and mentor) were a treat, his eye for detail second to none.
I received violin tuition from Professor Clarence Myerscough, from the Royal Academy of Music. A wonderful teacher with an amazingly eccentric outlook.
The fourth years’ final instrument assessment was by Moray Welsh (then Principal Cellist, LSO), who announced my cello to be the best students’ cello he had ever played! High praise indeed from such a brilliant performer.
Final college year and I found a placement at ‘Fiddles and Sticks’ in Notting Hill, run by Archie McPherson, a jazz musician. My duties included setting up all string instruments, including ‘The Smiths’ double-bass, and making tea for a regular, Joe Strummer! As an out worker I set up all the string instruments for Islington Music and serviced and repaired all the woodwind. I rehaired bows for private customers.
I have worked for dealers including Alan Wilks, Steve Lloyd, Peter Biddulph, Jonathan Beecher, Christine Evans-Pugh, Robin Hamilton, Emlyn Hughes, Richard White, Maureen Morrison, and Tim Wright.
22 years ago I came up with the idea to support violin making students in this country. Before this I was voted on as a committee member for the BVMA (British Violin Making Association) at their launch, and after working on that for a few years realised I could do more if I set up my own charity. I did just that, and have supported hundreds of student violin makers over the years. I am very proud of my achievements with my charity, the RAB Trust, and grateful to the team of trustees who support me in this venture.