Why share knowledge?
I first put the idea of teaching cymbal-making out into the world several years ago, initially just a tentative question to friends and followers to gauge interest.
Many responded positively, but there were more than a few replies urging me not to share the "secrets" of the craft and risk creating competition.
There's a lot of received wisdom and, in my view, artificial mystique surrounding cymbal making, like it's a dark art that requires chanting and incense before beginning a round of hammering. Don't get me wrong, the learning curve can be intense and anyone who delves into this or any other craft deserves respect and patience. Reaching a level of mastery in your chosen field requires years of effort - mentally, physically and financially, so I don't for one second mean to detract from that. There's no need to share every hard-fought victory and insight, and each unique artisan operates from their own unique position. This must be encouraged!
But I'm keen to clear away some of the nonsense, and my attitude to sharing knowledge and teaching new cymbalsmiths is very much one of "teaching how to learn". As a 100% self-taught cymbalsmith I've been through the pitfalls, the costly mistakes, the headaches that arise from trying to think around designing sound via manipulation of metal. So I feel confident in at least helping others avoid these bumps in the road. I think it's important to show the bumps, and let students reach the edge of them if not fall right in, but to talk and think around them is rewarding for student and teacher.
I want to train people to develop their own understanding and find their own voice in the bronze, hopefully producing instruments which are as unique as the maker, and perhaps allowing a "signature" sound to grow organically.
There are times when a "blueprint" is necessary. Having a problem removing a bump from a cymbal's surface, or smoothing out stray tones? Maybe hammer a little *here* and see what happens. Now, let's talk about why it worked, and how it may have affected other areas of the cymbal.
Considering cymbal-making is essentially quite an elemental process (melt metals together, heat, roll, cool, strike with hammer, cut with blade, hit with stick), it's amazing how deep you can go into unravelling what's happening within the metal, and how that can be shaped into sound. There are shortcuts, there are corners which can be cut, but once I see there's an avenue to explore, I'm exploring it!