British musical prowess is world famous; our musicians are considered some of the finest in the world. These artists rely on skilled artisans and craftsmen to supply and maintain the tools of their trade; the instruments. Without access to the finest technicians, players will be unable to maintain and develop their instruments and achieve the last 1% from the design and set-up of their instruments. This will inevitably result in frustration by the players and the slow decline in our music culture.
There is a small window of opportunity to stem the decline in the fascinating and important industry of instrument making. The last of the apprentice-served craftsmen, who made woodwind instruments from start to finish in the UK, are retiring and the great manufacturing companies like Boosey & Hawkes and Rudall Carte & Co. have now gone. Even the few excellent manufactures that are still surviving are outsourcing or mechanizing more and more. We are about to loose our skill base of truly all-round repairers and makers. Not only will the British music industry go into decline; the makers supply our fantastic players! However, we will also loose an incredible tradition of manual-skill.
It is still possible to acquire the workshops of these apprentice served craftsmen, there are still a few experienced and skilled artisans left who are keen to pass on their skills, we still have some of the best players in the world who know what they want and are willing to work with technicians to achieve the best.
To achieve our aims Cambridge Woodwind Makers teamed up with The ACE foundation who enabled us to create a fantastic workshop for the first five years. In early 2018 we re-located into offices on the first floor of 6 Lintech court, Linton. We now offer art courses in our new studio as well as our instrument courses in a slightly bigger workshop owned by Daniel Bangham.
We have the agreement of Daniel Bangham, one of Cambridge Woodwind Makers founding members, to loan all his equipment and materials from his respected clarinet making workshop, thus fulfilling one of the aims. These tools and equipment have been saved from obscurity by Daniel and come from the workshops of Ward & Winterbourn oboe makers and the Dolmetsch recorders. These resources alone cover the last 100 years of British instrument making and provide an almost complete visitor centre experience and teaching resource. There is still a need to install these tools and equipment and add some extra equipment for teaching purposes. Cambridge Woodwind Makers will also need to build up their own asset register of specialist equipment required.