This is an extract from what one of the participants, Dr. Fabio Aricò, had to say about the session at the HEA conference:
“I recently attended the HEA Annual Conference in Birmigham. A great event overall, and I will begin my account of it talking about a great session I attended there on “Experiential Learning” delivered by the mighty Laura Ritchie. When we entered the session venue, the room was already set with violins, cellos, violas and scores: intimidating to say the least. Very few of us had ever touched an instrument. (It took me 40 years to ever go near a violin!) So off we went…. Laura’s session was a truly inspirational and humbling experience: I think I am a good teacher, and I used to think that I knew exactly how it feels being a student learning new material, drawing on my experience and my memories as a student. Yes, there is some truth in all this, and relying on our emotional intelligence is important (quite ironic that Alan Mortiboys, pivotal figure in the emotional intelligence literature, was sitting just next to me with his violin). The truth is that many moons have passed since I was a student, and I had to acknowledge that my emotional intelligence alone does not make up for the fact that I am no longer a spring-chicken in my teaching profession. I needed to be reminded how it feels to be a student struggling to grasp new material, something never learnt before, with peers all around me, who could judge me and make fun of me, but who could also help me and support my own learning. Thank you Laura for bringing me back to a more humble-self, you certainly left a mark.” Dr. Fabio Aricò Lecturer in Macroeconomics, University of East Anglia
This was the 7th Cello Weekend, bringing together 35 participants from all walks of life. Over the course of the weekend, Laura led rehearsals, participants took part in chamber music, jazz, and Alexander Technique workshops. Some performed in the masterclasses while others observed, and everyone performed in the final concert. We worked with the composer Patrick Harrex to give the unofficial premier of his work ‘… a l’armonia sì intento …‘ With constellations of close harmonies that changed slowly over minutes, this beautiful work was a venture into new territory for some of the cellists.
Composer Jill Jarman (above) explained her new composition for solo cello ‘Resonance‘ before Laura performed its premier. Rosina Mostardini (below center) travelled from Chicago to deliver masterclasses on both days. These were accompanied by Thomas Duchan (below right). Graham Elliott (below left) was our resident Alexander Technique teacher.
This is the last minute of the 1812 Overture as performed in the final concert of the 2014 Cello Weekend. Everyone in the audience had their own ‘balloon cannons’ and I had my special arsenal just at the tip of my toes. This short clip is from an impromptu video filmed by an audience member…
Something’s Happening was an HEA funded, day long workshop run by NTFs at the Arts University Bournemouth. I was one of 5 NTFs involved and the event was organised by Dr. Kirsten Hardie. Here is what one of the participants said:
“The Cello session run by Laura Ritchie at the Bournemouth NTF conference was a truly exemplary instance of transdisciplinary pedagogy. What was remarkable during the session was the speed with which individuals were able to pick up the basics. This was because the session was wholly experiential. The powerful lesson for me is that we should require that our students become practitioners in their respective subject. This in itself transcends individual disciplinary conventions, and can be adapted for any subject. In addition the session reiterated the value of embodying knowledge – this, of course, is an essential of music, but it should remind us also of the recent work in Neuroscience that informs us that an embodied activity has a very strong chance of becoming a remembered one. The third key point, for me, was the fun that we all had as participants playing and making mistakes. Why can we not transfer these notions wholesale into our own disciplines? Learning is not about producing right answers at all times, it is about failing, and to paraphrase Samuel Beckett, ‘failing better.’”
Dr Nicholas Monk,
National Teaching Fellow,
Deputy Director, IATL,
University of Warwick