Carrie Taylor ESTA SS Report 2018
With thanks to the ESTA Nannie Jamieson Nutshell Fund Bursary sponsored by Stentor.
Three days after the end of the ESTA Summer School, I began my new job as Upper Strings Music Instructor at a large secondary school and associated primaries in an area of high social deprivation. Making the transition from English classroom teaching to instrumental instruction has been made a good deal more manageable by several sessions at the Summer School, including the Vamoosh session with Thomas Gregory, Upper String Pedagogy with Louis Pantillon, and Anna Dryer-Beers’s Trinity College London input.
Raising attainment in the context of deprivation is high on the political agenda in Scotland, and the Vamoosh series is the ideal vehicle for this. It allows pupils to demonstrate progress over a relatively short period of time, is accessible to all, and the lessons modelled by Thomas Gregory accurately reflected pupils’ experience of learning in the classroom today. The session was high energy, interactive, and engaging. I am currently using Vamoosh with several of my Primary pupils, all of whom appear to love it.
Louis Pantillon’s Upper String Pedagogy sessions were inspiring for their warmth and humanity as well as the real insight they provided into the workings of the violin. I now feel more comfortable and confident in setting up complete
beginners, and have a greater understanding of their journey to acquiring a basic technique. The advice to continually relate all learning back to music itself resonated deeply with me. I learned a lot about vibrato in particular, which I am currently trying to apply (with varying degrees of success) to my own playing. Consequently, I now firmly believe that there really is no better way to improve your own playing than through teaching.
Finally, having no previous knowledge or experience of the Trinity College exam board, I was mightily impressed by the way in which the emphasis is on helping pupils to achieve their best by allowing them to play to their strengths, for rewarding them for what they can do, rather than penalising them for what they cannot yet demonstrate securely. I already have four exam pupils, all of whom will sit Trinity for the very reason that it allows for personalisation and choice, whilst still encouraging the development of all round musicians.
On a personal level, Alexander Technique sessions with Rosamund Hoskins were highly invigorating, and the evening concert of Mendelssohn’s D minor Piano Trio reminded me of the difference between loving and being in love with the violin.