Summer School Report 2019 – Kate Skeet

 

Thanks to      a Nannie Jamieson Nutshell Bursary sponsored by Hidersine, I was very pleased to attend the ESTA Summer School, as it is becoming a vital time of refreshment and new ideas for my teaching practice, and the bursary makes it possible to take time out from family holiday time.

For me this year, the pedagogical 'stars of the show' were the two Joannes, May & Erwin. Pupils of Paul Rolland, not only were they experts in his approach, but also very experienced teachers. It was clear in the upper strings sessions that Joanne May had come across every type of pupil I've met, from the young beginner groups to the awkward teenagers. I found myself scribbling down various brilliant ideas that I looked forward to trying out with specific pupils and was delighted that in my first week back to teaching, one made a major breakthrough with his smooth bow changes, and a stiff adult pupil is improving shoulder flexibility. It has also been great to find a use for the dance craze of 'flossing' to help with bilateral motion, rather than demanding that children stop it and concentrate on what they should be doing! The plastic drinking straws that I was guiltily storing in my kitchen drawer, worrying about single use plastic, now have a new lease of life in my teaching kit, to ensure that bow holds are soft and relaxed, rather than stiff and grabbing. Joanne was very generous with her time both during the course, happy to take further questions in the lunch queue, and afterwards with follow up emails and video clips.

Physical wellbeing from Jane Fenton's yoga sessions and an excellent presentation from Sarah Upjohn reminded us that tiny breaks in playing can be enough to adjust our posture, and Sarah's physio expertise and experience in a specialist music school has given me better words to say to parents who insist on rushing to buy the next size up of violin before children are ready.

This year's temptation to spend money came from Steve Bingham who set up a roomful of electric violins, pedals and computers and invited us to have a try. No question too stupid, he claimed, so I put this to the test and learned a lot. I plan to explore this area a lot more in the future, both for my own creativity and for teenaged pupils who need a change of approach when school exams loom.

The trade stands helped me to keep up to date with the various violins and products available, the varied concerts each evening were a privilege to have as part of the course, and I valued the opportunity to play chamber music in a relaxed setting with colleagues from around the world. 

Finally, a word of thanks for the splendid organisation of the course. From chair moving to party organising and cheery bartending, Sheila & Julia made everyone feel welcome, whilst other members of the Executive Committee took part in sessions and made themselves available for informal feedback as the course progressed.


Nannie Jamieson Nutshell Fund