I was happily pleased to be returning once again to the wonderful settings of Chichester University for this year’s ESTA Summer School. A welcome return was Caroline Pearsall, who started off proceedings with two Tango workshops. I had had the pleasure of taking part in Tango workshops before in Primrose Hill and it was a delight to try the Tango repertoire with a full-scale string orchestra this time. This enabled the group to learn to communicate effectively, taking turns to lead within sections according to the music, to play around and feel a new tempo within each piece. I realised that more detail, especially use of less bow makes a great effect both in projection and articulation, which is something to take away for me as a player and a teacher.
Each morning, we were all treated to the full body and brain workout that is Dalcroze with Sian Ford which was a great way to fully engage not only with the music but also for the rest of the day’s varied learning. I felt transported back to my childhood Ballet lessons, an element of play that is often lost in adulthood which needs to be daily reminded of for mental happiness, connecting with young children and to explore the basics of music that include pulse, pitch and rhythm. I was particularly looking forward to this new aspect of music education, particularly as a Kodaly specialist so this will be a new style to bring to my group teaching.
Following this class, I had the pleasure to learn a new angle of technique in Upper String teaching from Bojan Cvetreznik. My teaching is now enriched with a new understanding of rhythm, Kodaly based maths, string crossing using fresh imaginative ways to convey to children how to approach these hurdles in a fun and relaxed manner, such as flying between different countries within their borders to gradually change the level of the upper arm in the boxed position with the bow.
As well as looking at basic technique, we were treated to look at other aspects of teaching. Including conducting, how to set up school partnerships and how to explain Sight reading. Including a new insight into how to engage beginner string players from the amazing String teaching duo Kathy and David Blackwell. Whom I would like to thank personally for seeking me out at lunchtime to answer my questions about their String Starters publication.
Each night’s entertainment in the form of concerts in the chapel, once again showcased a broad range of different musical styles from very talented musicians. Demonstrating the brilliant techniques that had been demonstrated during the week thanks to Bojan and James Halsey. And also, how to convey musicality and most importantly the great partnership and communication between pupil and teacher. That I found most touching.
This leads me to add my sincere thanks to the Nannie Jamieson Nutshell Fund committee and my sponsors Thomastik-Infeld Vienna. The staff at ESTA always make me feel welcome and part of this family of colleagues.