4. Workshops and Lecture Demonstrations
As with most musicians, enthusiasm for a project spurs me into practising, and workshops and lecture demonstrations are currently providing plenty of projects and enthusiasm.
Participator or audience?
Some of us like to get going right away and discuss and try things out, on our own or in a group. Others of us like to observe and think and possibly try things out later. Most of us fall somewhere in between, sometimes feeling one way and sometimes the other. I want to provide for all these approaches, because I think they are all an entirely valid way of enjoying being part of a musical experience; and they are all needed for a truly creative and lively musical scene today.
Workshops are very interactive and have lots of time for discussion, 'try it for yourself' and general creative involvement. Maximum group size is therefore six. Some workshops, but by no means all, are suited to players of a stated standard.
Lecture demonstrations concern the performance and investigation of music firstly through demonstration performances, and explanation. You can join in discussions or not, depending on how you feel. Maximum group size is twelve, so that everyone can listen and look from close up if they want to (or sit more distantly if they prefer!).
Fees for both workshops and lecture demonstrations depend on the length of the session but they are very affordable!
My house in Forest Hill, South London, which has plenty of space. Added advantages are a large kitchen for the tea breaks!
Email for contact:
Currently I am working towards these ideas, all of which (with the obvious exception of the Cello Workshops) can be workshops or lecture demonstrations or somewhere in between:
Group playing as a cello quartet or quintet (so this workshop is participatory only), studying music centred round a variety of technical and musical matters such as: scale practice, intonation, musical tone quality, basic and musical vibrato, style in music, chamber music skills, …. These sessions are often initiated by suggestions from cellists and rely on availability of enough interested cellists to make a group. Contact me for further details, therefore, and tell me what you have in mind.
Tackling a New Piece
One of the most frequent questions I am asked is "How on earth do you learn a piece like that??" (usually in response to a piece like Richard Barrett's 'ne songe plus a fuir', which is actually eminently playable once you have sorted it out!). The process is no different to tackling any repertoire of any musical time or place and this session shows how we can go about it. Bit by small bit is the crux of the matter! Exploring in-depth, taking one step at a time, we travel from the first glimpse of a new score right through to giving the first performance of it. We think about how to sense, understand and share the composer's intentions; how to prepare, develop and practice both playing and musicianship, so that we can give a truly compelling performance of the music, with real impact on the audience.
It's easy not to think much about listening; it's just something we do all the time. But we listen to music - and the world around us - with many different levels of perception and for many different reasons too. In this session we find out how we usually listen, what we are listening for and why. This can differ widely, and for all sorts of reasons, and discovering and experiencing all these ways of listening can be revelatory. We also develop in-depth listening, really noticing so much more about sound. And then, most importantly, we find out how to go back to the pleasure of 'just listening to the music'. Many of us find this latter state difficult after a spell of very analytical, thoughtful listening. So we learn how to sit back and 'allow the music to reach us and speak to us', intuitively absorbing it just as we did as children. But now, because we have found out so much more about the music by listening in these different ways, we find it 'says' so much more to us that we are intuitively absorbing so much more, and so our response is much deeper too.
Repertoire: Hindemith Solo Sonata, Lutoslawski Sacher Variation, and some microtonal pieces to add spice to the mix. Earlier repertoire included too, as part of our explorations.
Hearing the different ways that we can tune music so that it sounds both in tune and expressive; developing the necessary discernment in our listening; realising that we play with expressive intonation in all music, whatever its date or origin.
Introducing Contemporary Music to Puzzled Musicians
Repertoire includes: Lindberg Stroke, Jonathan Harvey Chant and other pieces of a challenging nature.
I well remember being put off by modern music, which seemed so strange and uninviting to my ears. Through experiences at UCNW, Bangor,I very quickly learned that if you play it you begin to understand it, respond to it, connect with it, and realise how thrilling and relevant it can be. Contact with enthusiastic musicians, well able to draw us into the music emerging all around us right now, was also an indispensable part of that process. My aim is to pass this experience on to you, and draw you into some of the amazing music of the last hundred or so years.
Contemporary Cello Techniques
Repertoire to include microtonality, double bowing, timbral sounds, and much more besides.
Not just an explanation of 'how to play it', but also how and why these techniques developed and how they are essential for the creation of some very powerful music.
I have lots of other ideas for future sessions. Have you suggestions for sessions that would appeal to you? Do contact me, if so.