National Strings, Norfolk

I spent Easter weekend this year at the Yorke Trust in Norfolk, which was really fun. I learned a lot from all the teachers and had fun with my friends. I am very grateful to JDCMF for their bursary and I would love to go again next year.

We arrived quite late on Good Friday. The journey took longer than we expected because there was a lot of traffic. I said goodbye to my family, who were staying nearby, and met up with my friends and room-mates Katie, Jemima and Xiao. All four of us shared a room with an en-suite bathroom. The bathroom had two doors – sometimes we couldn’t get in because both doors were locked!

Each day we practised selected pieces with the teachers and I practised quite a lot with my roommate Katie, which was nice. Vanessa explained that the course is not about making everything perfect but about improving, and that it should encourage students to practise on their own – learning for themselves.  I think that practising by myself has helped me to hear my own mistakes, rather than practising always with a teacher. We were allowed to choose our own places to practise – I chose our bathroom; my own cosy space where I could lock the doors and really concentrate!

In the evenings we had concerts in the chapel and everyone played the pieces they had prepared. It was also great to see the older students Carys and Cayla, and to learn from them as well. My pieces were Adoration (Felix Barowski), Handel Sonata (1st Movement) and Shostakovich Duet. I also rehearsed orchestra pieces and ‘Evening at the Disco’. As the weekend progressed, I think my playing improved and some advice was especially helpful. My counting, for example, was not always correct and Caroline explained where I was going wrong. Simon helped me to understand better the dynamics of the Bach piece which I found difficult at first. He explained that when there’s a rest and you want to play louder you can loosen your bow a little and ‘dig out the sound.’ I like that idea!

On the last day, the concert was earlier at midday and all the parents attended. It was lovely to see my family again (and Dodger, my dog) and I was glad that my pieces went quite well – much better than at the beginning of the weekend. I collected my bags, said goodbye to my friends and set off for the long journey home.


Joan Dickson Chamber Music Fund