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Training bursary for musical instrument making

Golsoncott FoundationDeadline: 5pm on Friday 23 February 2024

This training bursary is targeted at trainees and prospective musical instrument making trainees who are experiencing financial hardship. It is sponsored by the Golsoncott Foundation and Jennifer Chen and is one of a suite of awards and bursaries offered by Heritage Crafts to support and celebrate heritage craftspeople.

Apply for up to £4,000 to start training in a musical instrument making craft or to further develop your skills.


Musical instrument makingMany people are dissuaded from training in musical instrument making because of the cost, and therefore the make-up of the sector is not truly representative of the mix of backgrounds that make up the UK as a whole. This bursary has been set up to help cover or subsidise the cost of training for someone who would otherwise be prevented from pursuing this career path as a result of the cost.

You could be just starting out on your journey in musical instrument making or at the point where you want to turn a hobby into a career, or you could already be a maker who is looking to further refine your skills.

Musical instrument crafts can include, but are not limited to, the making of complete instruments (such as bagpipes, guitars, steel pans and so on ), or to the specific skills that go into making an instrument (such as strings, valves, keys and so on).

If you are new to a craft and are struggling to find the right training for you, after your own research, please get in touch and we may be able to support. Successful applicants will be supported by the Heritage Crafts team to develop an action plan. We will work with you to monitor progress and support you to achieve your aims.


What can this grant be used for?

There are a number of routes to learning a craft skill. Applicants can apply for a grant for any amount up to £4,000 which can cover or contribute towards:

  • the costs of training with a craftsperson;
  • the costs of attending a specialist training course;
  • the costs of attending an accredited training course;
  • undertaking a self-directed programme of training with one or more craftspeople;
  • the cost of specialist tools or materials, books or study materials or low cost travel (no more than 25% of total budget).

The bursary cannot be used for general living expenses, research, promotional activities or anything else. Successful applicants will be supported by the Heritage Crafts team. We will work with to you monitor progress and support you to achieve your aims.


How to apply

Please apply by filling out the form below. We will also accept a video application of no more than 15 minutes in length in which you address all of the questions in the form below. You can access a list of questions here.

The deadline for applications is 5pm on Friday 23 February 2024. If you have any questions or need assistance with the application process, please email Tess Osman at

Assessment, shortlisting and final selection will be carried out by the Heritage Crafts judging team, and interviews will be carried out by Zoom. If you are new to a craft and you would like assistance with finding a trainer, please get in touch and we will do what we can to help.

Percussion instrument making

The Radcliffe Red List of Endangered Crafts


Percussion instrument making


The making of percussion instruments. See the separate entry for drum making.


Status Endangered
Historic area of significance London
Area currently practised UK
Origin in the UK
Current no. of professionals (main income) 21-50
Current no. of professionals (sideline to main income)
Current no. of trainees 1 with Dr Jamie Linwood
Current total no. serious amateur makers
Current total no. of leisure makers



The family of percussion instruments is huge, therefore the making of instruments also covers a broad spectrum and so makers tend to specialise in certain fields which is probably determined by market forces. Even when specialised to certain instruments there is a great diversity of materials used and thus a wide range of skills and knowledge base are required.

Today, most percussion instruments are mass-produced by large manufacturers.



Almost everything: bench joinery and wood working, leather working, metal working from blacksmithing, coppersmithing and fine machining, plastic and composite forming skills, electronics and electrical fitting, structural engineering, as well as acoustics.


Local forms



  • Drum making: is having a bit of a resurgence, and are made in the UK by Henry Potter & Co. Drums Ltd. Cambridge Drum Company, Liberty Drums, and the British Drum Company.
  • Timpani making: made in the UK by Henry Potter & Co. Drums Ltd.
  • Gong making: originates in the near/far east – only two resident UK craftsmen practising the craft professionally (Matt Nolan and Dave Collingwood)
  • Cymbal making: originates in the near/far east – only two resident UK craftsmen practising the craft professionally (Matt Nolan and Dave Collingwood). There was factory production of cymbals in the UK in the mid- to late-twentieth century, mostly by the Premier Company of Leicester (other brands included Ajax, Boosey and Hawkes, Beverley, but many, if not all of those were probably made by Premier or by overseas companies). It has been suggested that Premier cymbals were made by Italian immigrants and ex-POWs who had the knowledge and skills already, having come from the Pistoia region of Italy.
  • Triangle making: dates back to mediaeval times and were originally by blacksmiths. They were used in folk music, mostly in different form to the triangle we know today, and came into the orchestra in the late 1700s. Orchestra quality instruments hadn’t been made in the UK for years before Matt Nolan started to make them (both contemporary and older styles).
  • Bell plate making: a percussion instrument consisting of a flat and fairly thick sheet of metal, producing a sound similar to a bell and originating in the East. There were some made in the UK 20 to 30 years ago by the late Arthur Soothill and there have been other, less than professional, attempts to make them in the UK again. Today they are made by Matt Nolan.
  • Tubular bell making: an English invention first patented by Harringtons in 1884, although there is history of them being used in France a decade or two before this date. They are currently made in the UK by the Premier company, Matt Nolan and Paul Jefferies and occasionally by Henry Potter & Co. Drums Ltd.
  • Mallet/keyboard percussion instrument making (e.g. xylophone, vibraphone, marimba, glockenspiel etc): modern instruments although there is some history of them being made by Premier and others in the twentieth century. Some are made by Paul Jefferies and by Hope Street Marimba. Jamie Linwood has been making tuned percussion (xylophones, marimbas, metallophones, plosive aerophones, tubular bells, sanzas, in Uley, Glos for 30 years, mostly supplying schools (majority but not all being outdoor instruments), professional musicians, theatre companies, local authorities, art centres and parks.


Issues affecting the viability of the craft

  • Market issues: The biggest problem is that most instruments are made for the cheaper end of the market and consumers buy from known brands. These manufacturers are driving standards down as they constantly aim to reduce costs. Additionally there are a large number of drum makers who assemble components to produce bespoke drums – there are still quite a few who even make the shells and components themselves. Becoming more specific there are very few people who make kettle drums and specialise in specific areas of percussion making, but the market is very small and niche, so increased supply from emerging makers actually reduces the viability of established small businesses. Ultimately what needs to happen is that players should support instrument makers by buying from them, but that is my job to persuade them of the merits of doing so.
  • Raw materials: Honduras rosewood is one of the most expensive timbers in the world and an endangered species. It is one of only a few tonewoods that are suitable for making percussion instruments and is still used for top qualiity orchestral instruments. Most mid range xylophones made in the UK are made from Padauk, (Pterocarcarpus angolensis). Equally copper reserves are falling, so prices are going up constantly for it and all copper alloys. Because of the relatively small quantities used in percussion making it is difficult to compete with the larger manufacturers on both price and the ability to invest in stocking raw materials.
  • Training and recruitment issues: there are no training courses for percussion instrument making.


Support organisations

There are no specific organisations supporting the manufacture of percussion instruments.


Craftspeople currently known

individual makers:

  • Paul Jefferies, South Yorkshire.
  • Matt Nolan. Cymbalsmith, specialising in handmade cymbals, gongs, triangles and other metal instruments.
  • Dave Collingwood, Bristol. Cymbalsmith, specialising in handmade cymbals.
  • Dr. Jamie Linwood – Tuned percussion maker specialising in xylophones, marimbas. 

Crafts businesses that employ two or more makers:


Other information