Meet the Workshop Team

The Cambridge Violin Makers began life in 1960 as evening classes at the Cambridgeshire College of Arts & Technology. In 1973 one week courses were started; in 1986 activities outgrew the college facilities, and The Violin Workshop was created on the premises it resides at to this day.

All our instructors are independent professional craftsmen and many of them have been teaching the courses for several years; one or two started their careers in the classes. With a 7:1 average pupil to teacher ratio, the instructors are able to provide students with substantial individual attention.


Juliet Barker

Picture of Juliet Barker

Having trained in violin making at the Bavarian State School in Mittenwald, Germany, Juliet returned to Cambridge in 1956 and set up as Cambridge's first independent violin maker. In 1960 she was approached by the director of the Cambridge College of Arts & Technology (now Anglia Polytechnic University) to run an evening class in violin making. By 1986, the classes had expanded to such a degree that new premises were required, so The Workshop was founded by Juliet as a permanent home for the Cambridge Violin Makers. Juliet officially retired from teaching in 2005 although she still contributes an awful lot to classes through her great passion for instrument making. Juliet specialises in the making of violas and small size instruments, and is a keen player of the viola, especially in chamber music. In 2006 she was awarded an MBE for sevices to music and violin making.

Christopher Beament

Picture of Christopher Beament

Trained in Violin Making with Juliet Barker, his mother, completing his apprenticeship in 1993, and now the full time manager of The Workshop. Outside of his committments to The Workshop, Chris specialises in the making of violins, and the repair and restoration of violins, violas and 'cellos. In his spare time he makes guitars and is a keen musician, playing cello, guitar, and bass and has written and recorded a variety of material.

Neil McWilliam

Picture of Neil McWilliam

Neil joined the workshop in the autumn of 2011 having graduated from the Newark school of violin making. He has joined primarily to help with teaching but also carries out repairs and restorations in the workshop.

Robert Thornhill

Picture of Robert Thornhill

Having taken early retirement from the London College of Furniture, Bob joined the Workshop team in 2000 to assist with the busy teaching schedule. Not one to shy away from experimentation, he has made instruments with "bent" fronts and a five string viola as well as more conventional models. Away from the workshop he does repairs for another Cambridge music shop as well as taking commissions for new instruments.

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