About Me : Jim Parr

I come from a family of engineers and craftsmen and several of my hand tools are stamped with the names of various predecessors (one day I will do the genealogy thing and figure out who was who). Initially I didn’t fit the mould, because I studied English at college and eventually became a mental health social worker – I still do some work in that area. I took up the trumpet aged 12, and the recorder a couple of years later – to my surprise, I found I had a bit of a flair for both. The recorder led to early woodwind, and I was hooked. Bagpipes came a few years late still, and led to my first involvement with making things. The then biennial Early Music Exhibition at the Royal Horticultural Hall was the highlight of my year, and I found

two people there making Breughel bagpipes, which I fell instantly in love with. One of them was Jon Swayne, who I now know to be the most benign and courteous chap you could hope to meet, but in those far-off days I found him rather intimidating and couldn't summon up the courage to speak to him. So I ended up buying pipes from someone else, and although they were beautifully made, they didn't work very well and I spent the next year sorting them out and getting them to play. Having done that, I thought I might as well get myself a lathe and do it from scratch, and that was that. But if I'd bought my first set of pipes from Jon, they would have worked beautifully and I would never have become a maker at all. So it's all Jon's fault!

Jim Parr Early Woodwind

My first sets of pipes worked well but looked like an accident in a tubing factory and cost me blood to make – despite my enthusiasm I knew nothing and had no engineering skills. I decided to go to West Dean and learn from Eric Moulder. The first course nearly killed me – I had never had to work to such high standards. But Eric put me in touch with my inner craftsman and has become a friend and colleague, and I no longer dream of revenge with a 4H pencil. And the year after that first course, I found myself at the Early Music Exhibition not as a visitor, but as an exhibitor.

Since then I have put in a lot of work developing a range of shawms, and I'm not finished yet – a one key bass is on the drawing board! A love affair with zampogna has slowed things down very enjoyably as well. So I beaver away in my tiny workshop in Yarmouth, fussed over by my wife Tracey (first wedding anniversary just passed), with the cats Slap and Tickle, playing for the excellent Castleton Brass, the Ravenscroft Consort and (rarely these days) Piva, and wondering what exactly is going to happen next.

html     css     xml     sitemap

Thanks to Al Garrod for designing this web site