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Emma Hardy, has been studying at Merton College on the Violin Making and Repair course which has given her the opportunity to attend Makers’ Day where the College has a stand each year. Makers’ Day is organised by the British Violin Making Association (BVMA) which exists to promote and support violin makers working in Britain.

Emma takes us through her experiences of Makers’ Day and the course during her time at the College.

“The BVMA put on a number of events and courses, which attract some of the best makers in the trade as well as professional musicians who purchase instruments.

Makers’ Day happens once a year at King’s Place, a classical music concert venue in Kings Cross. The event showcases the living craft of violin making and promotes it to a wider audience of musicians and general public. The event features a midday ‘competition’ concert where a quartet select a number of violins/violas/cellos that they particularly like the sound and feel of, and perform with them explaining why they selected them and guiding the audience as they go. It is not a competition in the true sense of the word as there is no one winner or prize (other than having the pleasure of hearing your instrument played on stage by a professional).

I’ve been studying at Merton College for nearly three years, and will be submitting my first violin to the ‘competition’. I completed the violin at the end of last year, after nearly two years spent making it. Making my second one has been going much quicker, and I’m on track to have it finished by Easter.

Merton College having a stand allows students to practise interactions with clients in a low stress and friendly environment. Other established makers also drop by the stall and give feedback and so it becomes an excellent networking opportunity as many of those makers will be open to giving students work experience time in their workshops.

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The first Makers’ Day event I went to, I was assisting our tutor Keith with managing the Merton College stand when I was approached by a committee member of the BVMA as they needed a volunteer to help with the concert. Since meeting and helping those committee members at the event, I was later asked to join the committee and be the student representative. In my last two years as a committee member I have re-designed their quarterly publication and am now employed as a freelancer one day a week by the BVMA as their magazine editor and designer. I also help organise courses and have played a large role in the organisation of this year’s Makers’ Day.

As a direct result of being on the committee I have been offered a number of work experience placements with high profile makers and have a community of makers and musicians around me who have an interest in helping me find work after finishing my studies. The importance of Makers’ Day for violin making students at Merton College cannot be overstated, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing our stand there again this year.”