Amateurs, apprenticeships and college education: The teaching and learning of classical guitar makers in post-war Britain.

Winn, Joss (2019) Amateurs, apprenticeships and college education: The teaching and learning of classical guitar makers in post-war Britain. In: Journal of Vocational Education and Training (JVET) conference, 28-30 June 2019, Keble College, Oxford.

Full content URL: https://josswinn.org/2019/06/28/year-one-research-...

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Amateurs, apprenticeships and college education: The teaching and learning of classical guitar makers in post-war Britain
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Abstract

This paper discusses ongoing research that aims to understand how ‘luthiers’ or stringed-instrument makers (specifically, classical guitar makers) in the UK learn their craft and maintain their tradition through the teaching and learning of relevant knowledge and skills. Broadly, the research traces the historical and contemporary practices of luthiers within their social context, studying the early efforts of amateurs and DIY culture and the subsequent development of institutional programmes of study.

The mixed methods design combines: archival document research into both amateur and institutional histories; a survey of living classical guitar makers in the UK (n=61; population=103); a systematic review of the DIY classical guitar making literature; biographical interviews of luthiers (n=20); and an on-going case study of the Musical Instrument Craft degree programme at Lincoln College, UK, involving monthly observations, interviews (n=20), and documentary research.

A motivation for undertaking the research is the ‘Radcliffe Red List of Endangered Crafts’ (2017), which developed a list of ‘heritage crafts’ in the UK which are at risk of dying out. A number of issues relating to the education and training of luthiers were identified as threatening the tradition. These include the difficulties of continuing training after completing a college course; securing such a position after college is difficult because it is often not economical for experienced luthiers to take on apprentices/trainees. Also, college courses are at risk because the numbers of students required to make them financially viable means that they are closing or accept too many students which, according to Radcliffe (2017), has a detrimental effect on the quality of training.

The research should also be understood in the broader context of contemporary craft education in the UK. According to research by the Craft Council (2016), since 2008 there has been a significant decline in the number of young people studying crafts at school and in further education; there are persistently low numbers of formal apprenticeships, and there has been a rapid decline in the number of craft-based HE courses.

The research is significant because no similar study of the 20th century development of lutherie in the UK has been undertaken and the transmission of the tacit and embodied knowledge and skills is at risk of being lost as older luthiers die and the sustainability of college courses become more precarious due to the changing funding and regulatory environment.

Keywords:guitar, guitar-making, lutherie, luthiers, craft, education, teaching, learning
Subjects:X Education > X341 Academic studies in Further Education
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Education
ID Code:39437
Deposited On:13 Jan 2020 09:05

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