I wish to thank The Nannie Jamieson Nutshell Fund sponsored by Thomastik-Infeld Vienna very much for helping me to attend the 2017 ESTA Summer Course.
The three days that I spent in Chichester were a fantastic opportunity to immerse myself in playing and teaching related issues without everyday distractions. This allowed an intensity of focus which hopefully means that a good amount of it will stay with me as the business of term time sets in.
The daily Dalcroze with Sian Ford was as ever an inspiration, reminding us that it can be drawn upon in small ways when teaching one to one as well as in its more obvious setting of group musicianship teaching, whether by using scarves to explore phrasing or gestures for character, for example.
The tango sessions were interesting and enlightening especially for a violinist who plays various tangos with her string quartet, as I do. The techniques that Caroline Pearsall introduced will be fun to explore, although, perhaps the music presented might be a bit ambitious for most of the string groups that we run. However, with some of the tangos already available for intermediate players it might well be possible to incorporate some of these techniques, and certainly playing more percussively, which no doubt the students will enjoy.
I found that the conducting session with Gavin Sutherland was particularly useful, probably in part, because I was picked to conduct the last movement from the Mozart D major Divertimento for strings, which it is unlikely that I would have volunteered to do! As someone who these days generally conducts from the violin it was a little daunting to have to conduct my colleagues on the course with a baton, but actually the outcome was confidence building and it was helpful to gain some technical tips and a basic conducting technique. Simple ideas such as accenting the beat before an entry was helpful. It was also instructive to play and be conducted by colleagues and hear Gavin’s advice. He was very positive and clear.
Of course, the basics and technical sessions from Ted Wilson and Bojan Cvetreznik gave us lots of food for thought. The differing styles of both these teachers was interesting and certainly led me to question and evaluate my own ideas and experience and theirs. I have found many of the points made useful, but the violin resting on the ‘ledge’ of the collar bone has been good with a number of ‘off the shoulder’ offenders already! The group discussions that these sessions generate is also a very necessary part of the course. I only wish that I could remember everything valuable that was said … The session with the Blackwells was excellent and their generosity of ideas and resources wonderful. I have used, with their permission, their new ensemble piece ‘Latin Nights’ that we played in their presentation and needless to say, the children and audience loved it!
Unfortunately, I could only stay until Wednesdsay lunchtime and so was very sorry to miss everything else, not least the Terrafolk concert. I will have to catch them another time …