Lawrence Wilkes interest in musical instruments began when he started playing cello at 8 years old. He studied cello with Marijane Carr Seigal of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, then with William Klenz at SUNY Binghamton.
While also studying cello, Wilke began an apprenticeship as a violin maker at the age of 16 with his uncle, master violin maker David Caron. He also trained in bow making and repair with Philip Krause, before moving to Taynton, England in 1986 to work for Andrew Dipper in instrument restoration. In 1988, Wilke opened his own studio in Clinton, Connecticut where he currently builds violins and violas, and specializes in cello making.