Monday, 26 January 2015

Brass and Woodwind Repair qualifications

I am often asked about qualifications in the field of Musical Instrument Repair. In particular: Do the courses here in Wales lead to a qualification?
At the moment I am only able to offer a certificate of attendance, and do award these to all students completing a brass or woodwind instrument repair course. I am happy to offer more, but I do want to get it right.

Clearly approval, and with the support of the trade is the correct way to proceed.

When I taught at Merton College, there were two major components included in a students' assessment:
  • Course-work
  • Written exam
The course-work consisted of a list of set tasks that would be undertaken by all students as they progressed through the course, and assessed by the tutor to strict marking schemes. These marks would be combined at the end of the academic year with the written exam results. This would produce a final mark, representing the students' performance on the course.

Pass, credit and distinction were the three possible outcomes. Of course occasionally a pass grade unfortunately was not achieved, and re-sits were available.

The purpose of this post is to get some 'feedback' and opinions from all of you hard-working guys out there. 

The majority of students attending courses here in Wales will require much more experience and expertise before being capable of undertaking professional repairs. Below is an extract taken from my website :

'Students may progress to a professional level by attending further advanced courses, after initially attending a foundation course. 
We do however recommend hands on experience working with a professional repairer after attending a course. Employment and/or possibly an apprenticeship are considered an ideal next step on the road to ‘professional status’. 

An advanced student carefully removing dents from a silver plated trombone outer slide.

The public at large will generally trust  professional associations such as NAMIR to vet and recommend technicians who can carry out highly professional repair-work.

It is our duty therefore to accept this responsibility, and to do all we can to ensure that the high standards expected by our customers are being delivered.

My question therefore, is: Would it be of any value for me here in Wales to offer the opportunity of assessment to students?

My initial thoughts are that this could possibly be offered on two levels. The first and lower level would assess maintenance and minor repairs, and an award at this level would qualify students to do just that. Successful students at this level would not qualify for 'Professional Membership' of NAMIR.

A higher level of assessment would test students on their ability in the diagnosis and the carrying out of repairs to a professional standard. An award at this level would qualify students for Professional NAMIR membership.

I do acknowledge that no qualification can ensure that the person is capable of delivering the service, however it might improve the standards of new members, and give newcomers to the trade something to strive for and work towards.

Those responsible for accepting or otherwise, new members into NAMIR would have much greater information regarding a persons' ability.

Your input regarding content and assessment methods, even qualification titles, will be highly appreciated.

There is absolutely no reason why some form of qualification cannot be provided. There is not a week  goes by, that I am not asked this very question.

Returning to my previous blog; my new web-site is at last up and running.

The web address is:

Anybody requiring forthcoming course dates and prices will find them as a download in the 'Courses' section of the home-page.

Or Email me at:

Best wishes to all for now,

Trevor Head

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Woodwind Instrument Repair Courses

Forthcoming Woodwind Instrument Repair Courses

The next woodwind instrument repair course here in Wales is scheduled for April 13th to 17th 2015. This is followed immediately by a 'Specialist' saxophone repair course on the 18th and 19th April.
I do have itineraries for both of these courses and would be happy to mail them to anyone who is interested.

Course Content

Our courses do have great appeal for any serious student wanting a short, yet intensive course, and I am very aware of the large amounts of information we expect our  students to absorb.
We constantly listen to the comments of students and use this information to update and improve our courses to the point where we believe they are the very best available.

New website

It's been five days now since I started creating my new website.
In the meantime I've had no response to my blog. This is probably due to the fact that nobody knows about it, OR it's incredibly boring; I hope not, but I do need your comments please!
I hope to do something about that soon. Maybe a mass email to my Instrument Repair contacts.

It's been a real steep learning curve, both a blog and a new website all in the space of a week.

Time to escape!

I think I might just retire to my workshop and fix a few instruments. This is at least one thing I can do well and without 'stewing' my brain!

Three heads are usually better than one, although a noisy second valve linkage on this french horn is doing its best to defy us all!

Woodwind enquiries from Holland

It's that time of year when people begin planning their activities for the spring and summer; It's interesting, that out of 3 enquiries received for woodwind instrument repair courses this week, 2 of them are from Holland. We really do enjoy our overseas visitors, and look forward to meeting many more of them in the future.

It was snowing heavily here in Wales last night and this morning seemed an ideal time to take a walk around the village. Below are a couple of photos taken today!

The school in the snow; as seen from the graveyard next to the school playground!

Looking back at the village as we walk in a Northerly direction towards the 'Four Ashes'. The School can be seen in the top right of the picture behind the oak trees!

I do love this time of year, and especially this beautiful countryside that I am privileged to reside in. It's fairly quiet for me for the next couple of months, but it does give me the opportunity to make a few improvements around the place and to prepare for the next courses beginning with a Brass Instrument Repair course starting on March 28th.

If you are thinking of attending any of the forthcoming Woodwind or Brass Instrument Repair Courses, my advise would be to reserve your place as soon as possible.
Places are running out, and enquiries are numerous. I will publish more course information and dates here next time!

So for now,

Regards and best wishes!

Trevor Head

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Musical instrument repair courses and a little about me!

For those who are 'a little in the dark' about who I am and what I do, below is a little bit of factual stuff to bring you up-to-date.

Hi, my name is Trevor Head and I am the director of courses here at Llangunllo School, a trombone player and a qualified teacher with a ‘Certificate in Education’.

This is a picture of me with a group of brass instrument repair students on the final day of a course here at Llangunllo School: I'm the one wearing the white workshop coat!

 I have 42 years experience training in the field of musical instrument repair; 29 years at Merton College in South London and more recently here in Wales. I moved to Wales in 2001 and for a little over 10 years I taught in a 'special needs' school for boys near Hay-on-Wye in Herefordshire.

I have been running courses here in Llangunllo since 1985 as well as teaching in other educational establishments. I am now retired from school teaching, and  concentrate entirely on providing training in both brass and woodwind instrument repair.

I work with a small team of equally qualified and experienced subject tutors, all of whom are successful in the music retail, manufacturing and repair industries. I am also a ‘Founder Member’ and President of NAMIR (National Association of Musical Instrument Repairers) and  hold a professional qualification in ‘Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering’.

This  really does sound like I'm 'blowing my own trumpet' or rather 'trombone' Anyway let's continue!

It has taken me a very long time to come around to the idea of writing a blog. My kids, and just about everybody else in the whole wide world seem to spend every spare waking moment updating every detail of their lives on one social media site or another; technology seems to have passed me by! or am I just a 'boring old fart'? Don't answer that!
I thoroughly dislike trivia. I don't want to know what you had for breakfast or that you went for a walk in the park. So please, if you want to say something,  make it interesting and relevant!!
Am I alone here, or does anyone else feel the same?

The main reason for me having this site is to provide information about the musical instrument repair courses I am running here in Wales, and to interact with others having similar interests to me in terms of wanting to learn new skills and advance themselves in this area of work.

As you can probably tell, I don't have much of a clue about what to write about, that might be of interest to you. Any help therefore will be greatly appreciated.

The dawning of the new year found me bereaving the loss of my website:
I've no one to blame but myself,  I was given ample notice about my previous web host company ceasing to host my site. So, on the 31st December it disappeared.
Instant panic set in and here I am trying to make contact with anybody who might be vaguely interested.

So, if you do have something to say or a question to ask, then go ahead! This is a whole new experience for me and I can't wait to see if there is anybody out there who is interested and eager to communicate.

Regards and best wishes for now