Lucy Heath                                    ESTA SS Report 2019


I was fortunate to be assisted by a bursary from the Nannie Jamieson Nutshell Fund in order to attend the ESTA Summer School in Chichester during August 2019. I could only attend the first few days of the course but what a few days! Until a few months ago, I had not heard of Paul Rolland except as the man who influenced Sheila Nelson. The sessions presented by Joanne May and Joanne Erwin about Paul Rolland’s ideas of how to teach stringed instruments were enlightening. Joanne Erwin, who took the lower string group, was informative, friendly, very inclusive and full of tips of how to impart cello and bass techniques to our students, some of which I have included in lessons within days of arriving home! My favourite technique is the “angel wings”, which magically transforms my slumpers into professional looking and beautifully postured players! I also enjoy using the “tiny bird wing” analogy to convey the arm movement required for a more detache bowing. Many of us already knew much of what was being discussed and Joanne encouraged us to contribute our own ideas and tips, which made the sessions lively and engaging, and it was interesting how many of the ideas of Rolland, Nelson and Suzuki overlapped.

Mark O’Connor’s concert on the Monday evening with his wife Maggie, was inspiring and far surpassed the expectations I had from the CD I have of him playing with Yo Yo Ma and Edgar Meyer. The concert incorporated American folk fiddling, along with guitar and singing, all performed by the O’Connors to a virtuosic level. Mark’s sessions during the day incorporated ideas on how to improvise on simple American folk melodies and a presentation of his violin teaching method, which as a double bass teacher was of limited use as it is only published for violin, viola and cello but nonetheless includes pieces and ideas that I may well use to supplement my teaching. ESTA had very generously bought a number of “New Directions for Strings,” by Joanne and Joanne as well as copies of the “Mark O’Connor String Method” on our behalf, so most, if not all of the delegates were able to take home these useful additions to our teaching repertoire.

I missed Steve Bingham’s concert on the Sunday evening but thoroughly enjoyed his more classical concert on the Tuesday evening with pianist Murray McLachlan. The EPTA conference was taking place during the same week and I bumped into an old pianist friend from my college days, which was a lovely surprise. Another lovely surprise was meeting Graham Elliott at the trade fair, who used to coach the cello/bass sectionals of the youth orchestra I played in – needless to say, neither of us have aged a day…

The talk by Paul Harris on how to get the best from our pupils was also very enjoyable and informative, and the teaching video in Laura Ritchie’s session gave us food for thought, although she couldn’t be there herself. Cardiff Violins were super heroes and fixed an annoying rattle on my bass extension while I was there, and Sheila and Julia pulled the stops out in the evenings with a bar after the concerts.

All in all, it was a jam-packed few days which have given me exactly the boost I needed as I prepare for a new academic year of teaching. Thank you ESTA, I hope to return next year!

Nannie Jamieson Nutshell Fund