Summer School Report 2018
Helen Lewis

With thanks to the support of ESTA Nannie Jamieson Nutshell Fund Bursary supported by Hidersine.

In attending any professional development course, my hope is that I will come away refreshed with new ideas and possibly have a “light-bulb” moment. My first experience of attending the ESTA Summer School certainly didn’t disappoint!
I really enjoyed starting each day with the Alexander Technique sessions. As a fan of yoga and Tai Chi, I found AT a very helpful and complimentary activity. Being more aware of my posture and how to focus on the out breath rather than the in breath was a real revelation. The vocabulary used when correcting and observing posture is something that I will be able to use in my teaching, as a I spend a lot of time with beginner pupils adjusting posture. It has inspired me go on to book an AT lesson with a local teacher. The sessions have also sparked an interest in possibly training to be an AT teacher in the future, as this is something I think will compliment my teaching as well as improve my wellbeing.

The pedagogy sessions with Louis Pantillon were incredibly inspiring, I found revisiting ideas about teaching technique and working with beginners, very practical and wide ranging. His approach of delivery was well balanced, with context of learning approaches, with what works well in his experience, whilst giving you the permission to choose what works well for you. I felt that I was seeing the violin again as an adult and able to reflect on how I was taught as a child, which has led me to examine and reflect on how I am teaching the violin and why. With starting a set of beginner violinists in September I will be using many of the ideas he discussed, such as initial pick of the violin with one hand, bow games and colour-string based notation of pieces. For more experienced pupils I now have some new ideas for introducing vibrato and resonance.
The Group Teaching and Wider Opps sessions with Helen Dromey and Sarah Crooks very were beneficial, even though I don’t currently teach whole class groups. Many of their ideas for squeezing as much as possible out of a piece of music has made me reflect on how I can get more out of the repertoire I am using. Even in a limited teaching space I will be able to incorporate some walking and big beating exercises. This would also be very applicable with the beginner ensembles I work with, for ideas with activities in which children can build a sense of group rhythm and pulse. If I were to teach whole class groups in the future, I now have a better understanding of what works well and I would definitely be able to plan effectively.

Exploring “Vamoosh” as well as the ensemble pieces in the group playing sessions was an enjoyable way of experiencing some new repertoire. I will be trying out using the “Vamoosh” pieces with some of my pupils next term, as I think they will enjoy the pieces and the backing tracks.
Well, I have come away from the summer school with a note book full of ideas, which I am going to incorporate into my teaching curriculum and try out and evaluate over the coming academic year. It has also given me the time to stop and reflect on how I teach and what I want to change and evolve.
Did I get a “light-bulb” moment? Well, I think it was more like Blackpool Illuminations.


Nannie Jamieson Nutshell Fund