The Rab trustees met in May to decide the 2017 awards. 21 students applied, of whom 17 were granted awards: in total over £4500 as cash awards for wood, tools and fittings and 11 work experience placements with expenses paid. Names of the successful applicants are posted on the Recent Award Winners page. Four students were selected to apply for an additional Special Award of £1000. The name of the successful applicant will be announced in early July.
One of our trustees has developed a new line of products to raise some more money for the students. These beautiful violin, viola and cello blankets are hand made in Manchester and are sold on etsy for the cost of £25, £30 and £70 respectively. All the proceeds goes to the RAB trust.
SPECIAL STUDENT TICKET OFFER
The RAB Trust is offering a discounted price to all violin making students and on top of that expenses to the first ten who apply for this funding.
• This offer is only applicable to student members of the BVMA
• The RAB Trust will offer a discount of £50 on the student conference fee of £80. The students who successfully claim will be given a promotion code to use during the online booking process
• When students have received their booking confirmation, they should forward this to the RAB Trust. The first ten will receive a cheque for £50 towards travel and accommodation expenses for the conference
• If you would like to take advantage of this offer, email firstname.lastname@example.org before July 5!
A few months ago I was asked by the team of Helen Michetschläger, Kai-Thomas Roth, William Castle and Marc Soubeyran if I wanted to support them in their viola making project at the RNCM in Manchester between 9th-13th January 2017 by making sure they were never hungry nor thirsty, and to take photographs of their work.
It took minutes to reply to their request as I was very eager to be able to watch and learn from such experienced makers!
During the five days in which they completed a Bellosio viola of 1792 I learned a lot, from seeing how they use tools, and which tools, hearing their discussions on different parts of the making process and even got to ask trickier questions concerning thicknessing and archings. I feel very lucky to have been part of this project. The amount of information and inspiration I have gained from this is immense and I am really eager to get my hands on wood again to try all the different things I have learned in this days – starting today with carving my cello scroll!
Neil was one of the most successful British violin makers of the past 20 years. Due to the beauty of his instruments he naturally attracted the curiosity of many aspiring makers and he was generous in sharing part of his knowledge and accepting students for work placements- whether through the RAB trust or privately. Our work bears traces of beauty that originate from his words: a recipe for a fiercely red madder lake or a good, traditional recipe for colouring the black purfling are only two of many examples that are being handed around in his name.
Two of the students who had placements with Neil, write:
"One of the most interesting experiences on my violin making life was to have a workshop experience with Neil Ertz. It was in 2015 while I was in my third year at the Newark School. I had a great week with him, learning a lot every day and feeling myself at home because he was so kind and close to me. Something that impacted on me was the amount of phone calls he had every single day from friends and other makers. It made me realise how loved he was in the violin making world.
Thank you Neil, we all miss you.”
"I was very saddened to hear that Neil passed away last month. He very kindly had me for a week of work experience in 2011 and under his supervision had me fit pegs, make madder lake and we worked on a scroll. The most important thing he impressed upon me was the level of attention to detail needed in life after violin making school.
Whenever we met he was always interested in what I was up to and very open with his feedback and advice. I am sad to miss the opportunity to get to know him better when I move to Scotland next year.”
The RAB Trust continues to find new ways of helping violin making students to develop their skills and find their way in the professional world. We have recently awarded a placement on the 2017 BVMA Restoration Course at West Dean College to Julian Page, a final year student at the Newark School of Violin Making. Coming from a background that included working as a skilled fittings maker for violin maker Roger Hansell, Julian impressed the trustees with his commitment and skill in the field of violin restoration.
Jason Reitenberger, a first year student at Newark, took part in a project at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, where four experienced violin makers collaborated to build a cello for the college in six days. Jason’s job was to take photographs, chat to the visitors who came to watch the project, and to assume the role of a traditional apprentice; taking the opportunity to watch the whole process of making a cello at a ‘real world’ professional level alongside helping make the tea and sweeping up! Here is his report:
I am very grateful to have had the unique opportunity to accompany the cello project at the RNCM in Manchester. A cello built in public in one week!
The cello that was crafted in this week is based on an original Andrea Guarneri from 1691. It was the fourth time the team consisting of Helen Michetschläger, Kai-Thomas Roth, Marc Soubeyran and William Castle have showed their violin making skills in public at the RNCM.
Besides making coffee or tea and preparing lunch I have observed and learned so many techniques and useful tricks that are of great value for me. I am a student currently in my first year at the Newark school of Violin Making.
In order to accomplish such a project, precise organisation is a high priority. It was fantastic to see how organised a team has to be. Also a lot of preparation beforehand had to be done: the templates and the mould had been made, the wood had been chosen, jointed and the tools needed had been sorted before the week started.
Saturday the 27th of February 2016 was the first day of the cello project. Marc was working on the rib structure. That had to be completed at the end of the day because the rib structure was needed for taking the outline on to the front plate and back plate the day after. William was doing rough arching on the front plate and Helen on the back plate. Meanwhile Kai was starting the scroll and later Helen prepared the fingerboard.
The next day Marc completed some final adjustments necessary for taking the outline onto the plates. Afterwards Helen and Kai were working on the outlines and purfling. William was finishing the scroll and the fingerboard was glued on. After the outline was taken Marc trimmed the linings and prepared the rib structure to be removed from the mould.
Day no. 3 was the busiest. Marc was finishing the arching of the front plate, then thicknessed the plate and cut the f-holes. In between William was hollowing the front before the f-holes were cut. Helen finished the arching of the back plate and started fitting the bass bar. Now the edgework of the plates had been finished and William glued the rib structure on to the back plate. A long day was completed and we were exhausted.
On Tuesday the 1st of March the parts of the cello were coming together. Helen was shaping the bass bar and writing the label. William was finishing the inside of the instrument before the front was glued on. Marc was fitting the pegs and cut the slot for the saddle. Kai was shaping the fingerboard and fitting the endpin.
Day five was a day where everyone could relax a bit. A general clean up of the instrument was on the schedule and Kai was fitting the neck.
On day six the last and final day of work I observed the process of setting up the instrument. This was very interesting because it is of great importance in terms of sound production and projection. I learned how important the relationship between the bridge position, the bass bar and the sound post is.
Once the setup was complete students from the RNCM were playing it and it sounded amazing! I had a go as well and I was amazed how light it was since the back and the ribs had been made from poplar instead of maple.
All in all I had a great time and it was really meaningful for me to see how professional violinmakers work together and to experience the routine of this profession. Seeing how problems were solved and different opinions were shared was something that I learned a lot from. I realised how many different methods could be used to achieve a very good result. Also a day of a violinmaker does not end at a specific time. It ends when the job is done and since a violinmaker works with natural materials there are always problems that can appear. Even professionals make mistakes and learn from them. Life is a never-ending journey of learning. And that makes me happy. There is always something exciting going on!
My notebook got thicker and thicker and I got a lot of input that I am really excited to work and experiment with. A big thanks to the team!
In the past years, many violin makers have generously gifted their tools no longer needed which we sell to the violin making students of Newark. The sales are not regular and depend on our supply. Many of these chisels and gouges are of excellent quality and will be treasured throughout the career of yet an other maker.
RAB Trustee Helen Michetschläger recently published her book ‘Violin Varnish: notes and articles from the workshop of Koen Padding’. This documents the expertise of the late Koen Padding, who was world-renowned for his work on violin varnish. As part of the project, she sold on behalf of the family the contents of his workshop; tools, wood, books and varnish materials, with a percentage of the proceeds donated to the RAB Trust to fund future awards and projects. For more about the book visit www.violinvarnishbook.net.
Paul Bowers has come to London to hand over a violin he made with Rowan and friends. It's going to be sold on behalf of the trust.
A cello made to benefit the RAB Trust has now been sold.
The cello came to life in Somerset in July 2013, in the workshop of cello maker Kai-Thomas Roth, who invited three Newark students to help him complete this instrument.
The Brian Laurence cello has now found its home. Named after a mature student at Newark in the 1980s, who started making the cello there but never got far with it, the instrument - along with the rest of Brian’s workshop - was donated to the Rowan Armour-Brown Memorial Trust after his death in 2012. Kai-Thomas Roth, the well known maker (whose cellos are particularly prized), had been friendly with Brian at Newark and so decided to start on an ambitious project in collaboration with the Trust. He invited three outstanding current Newark students to join him in completing the cello. Their time together working intensively on this project was a valuable learning experience for them all and showed yet again how important the apprentice system is for passing on skills and knowledge. Stringers of London then undertook to display the cello and sell it on behalf of the Trust without charging commission; and it has now found an owner - Hamish Jamieson, a young Australian cellist.
Hamish lives in Brisbane and is currently working for his AmusA with the intention of going on to university to study music. He says of his new instrument: “I really like the overall warmth of the cello. It is unlike other cellos that I have played in that its sound fills the room with ease. The lower strings have a strong and deep tone that I love and I believe suits and betters my characteristics as a cellist”. So a new instrument is in the New World and will assist a young musician in achieving his goal, after having helped three young makers hone their skills, whilst at the same time providing funds with which the RAB Trust will continue its work of supporting talented students and maintaining the high standards of violin making and restoration in the UK.
That certainly makes it a winner all round!
Stringers in London http://www.stringersmusic.com/stringers-in-london
Kai-Thomas Roth email@example.com
2015 saw the RAB Trust giving its most ambitious awards to date. At the Diploma Day at Newark School of Violin Making, trustee Colin Garrett presented awards on behalf of the trust.