The 3-hour strings workshop was a wonderful platform for both students and local educators to learn and observe rehearsal and performance techniques, alongside some of Australia’s highest calibre musicians. It was a great opportunity for us to attend a strings-specific professional development session which encouraged positive learning and a deeper understanding of the place, purpose and style of music. We hope to integrate and explore these ideas in our own approach to music education and ensemble work this term.
One of the main areas of focus throughout the workshop was the encouragement of positive feelings in music through physical and character changes to suit different styles of music. For example, students were lead to play Mozart with fancy flare, and Bartok as a labouring peasant. The enthusiastic team-teaching approach allowed the quartet members to bounce off one another, thus allowing for a greater understanding and emphasis of the different points made.
Emphasis was also placed on the importance of listening and leadership within the group. Both during sectional tutorials and ensemble work, use was made of group leadership and individualistic ensemble listening activities. This in turn allowed for the students to effectively work together embodying different musical aspects (dynamics, right and left hand techniques, expression) in their creation of music.
Throughout the workshop, the Inspire Quartet demonstrated the different points being made to the students through performance. This was inspiring to experience, as the students were given both visual and auditory examples through which to shape their own music. Energised demonstrations were engaging for all in attendance, not only modelling a great teaching tool, but also the difference in the students’ approaches before and after the demonstration.
The workshop culminated in a performance which parents were invited to attend. It was fantastic to witness the progress in musical expression and understanding which students achieved in the space of a morning.
We look forward to a continued involvement with the ACO in future years and hope to involve some of our more advanced players in future workshop opportunities.
The Shearwater Strings team