The Chichester Cello Weekend, organised by Professor Laura Ritchie, brings cellists keen to develop their performing skills, technique, and musical appreciation together for a remarkable weekend of music making. All music is arranged to suit participants’ individual levels, and everyone plays in a fantastic cello-orchestra that rehearses throughout the two days. Sunday’s 4:30pm gala concert is open to friends and family.
Music includes from arrangements of popular hits to Bach to a contemporary gamified piece of music by Rebecca Askew and a special commission for the group by Bruno Newman. Participants will have opportunities to work with composers, to play solos for our guest artists: Ivana Peranic and Emma Collingham, and to participate in workshops on working with an accompanist and chamber music, where they can experience playing with a piano trio.
It seems a lifetime ago that the 2018 Cello Weekend happened. Two very full months ago a wonderful cross-section of cellists came together to play, learn, and celebrate making music and one another. The ethos of the weekend is one of inclusion and of expanding experience.
In everyday life opportunities to experience and participate in music making can be difficult to find – especially if you play a big orchestral instrument and are perhaps not in an orchestra. What about other opportunities? You may be too young, or think you are too old, or not good enough, or don’t know anyone, or don’t know where to look, or there just aren’t many opportunities near you, or…
This is my contribution to cellists at the University and in the locality. This was the 11th Cello Weekend at the University of Chichester. Read more
Assessment to develop Student Agency and Achievement
That was the title of my workshop at the SEDA (Staff and Educational Development Association) Conference on Assessment & Feedback and I had great fun. There were 40+ in the room and the plan was to talk to them for the first bit, presenting core ideas and a context for assessment. Then we broke into five groups, around tables and I gave them the brief to write an essay based on the information given so far…
What happened next was very interesting indeed. Everyone did something very different to what I expected. In my naive mind, I imagined that people would ‘get on with the task’ and just write an essay.
This was the beginning of a fantastic lesson for me. I know I was presenting, but I was learning. Read more
I did bring a suitcase of ukuleles to #OER16 in Edinburgh. It was as part of the BEST (Build Engage Solve Think) workshop I was running on learning networks. The workshop was based on the Open Source Learning Kit built by Mark Cabrinha. It was designed as a tactile tool that could represent the people, places, spaces, that were involved in learning, and through manipulating the pieces, and putting them together the user could create a representation of a learning network.
That sounds either very complex or really simple. Of course educators can design learning networks – we teach. But how often do you have the chance to really reflect on a big question and go through the different possible connections? Read more
I love this time of year. It is all go – there is a buzz in the air from the springtime as everything wakes up, but there is also that sense of drive as students prepare for exams and recitals, and people in general come out of the woodwork after the winter months. It’s then that we gather for the Cello Weekend. I have been running these events since at least 2004 (I’m not actually sure when I started them, but I found an old poster the other day) and every year we do something different. This year we had a lovely range of people who came from all over and I’m not sure there is actually another event quite like this one. The thing is that we all take part – the 8 year old beginner with the graduating music major and the retired professional. All play in the same cello orchestra and I think it is fair to say that all are challenged. Read more
I’m running a day long workshop for the HEA at my uni (University of Chichester) and in the spirit of the title of the day I thought I’d include the schedule and the info I’m using/sharing with the people attending. The schedule is below – please feel free to join in. On Twitter we’re using the hashtag #HEAOpen and there will be other ways to connect as well throughout the day. You’ll find a link to my slides HERE. I’ll be tweeting links throughout the day- so follow along! I’m @laura_ritchie on Twitter.
11:00 Twitter, websites & blogs
11:45 Listening in and reaching out: An audio interview with Howard Rheingold (part 1) Read more
Reflections on my surprise visit to the two-day Expo at Coventry’s Disruptive Media Learning Lab. I presented a session over the lunch break on day two that truly disrupted people – we did an orchestral flash mob, and although they (mostly staff) could see the instruments arranged and on display all morning, they were completely unaware that they would be the people playing them.
Throughout the morning people became curiouser and curiouser, and watching their reactions was lovely.
As I wasn’t on the printed programme, I had a sort of secret license to not follow traditional rules – this was a conference and speakers were respectfully introduced for other sessions, but it was also in a place that was actually named a ‘Disruptive‘ Learning Lab. So when Kate Green, who was coordinating my visit began discussing how I might be announced or how to let people know what was going to happen, and I said that I would just disrupt whatever people were doing and announce that there was something happening now…. *that was fun!
I walked into meetings and said ‘excuse me, please may I disrupt you?’ (good thing I have no clue who most of the people were or I am sure I would have been daunted) I invited them all to take part – invited the IT man, the cleaner, the Deputy Dean, staff, staff’s bosses, and their bosses, and the students. See, in this session, in my flashmob, we are all in it together and it’s about working together to realise yet untapped capabilities. I don’t know who you are, and I am not going to pre-judge what you can or can’t do. My job is to give you a chance, believe in possibilities, and show you that you can believe in yourself too. I hope that came across to the people there on that bean-shaped ‘hill’.
Everyday, as teachers, we put our students in situations where we want and expect them to learn, and that means they are vulnerable- vulnerable to failure (both public, and private failure). With a clear approach that fosters achievement and supports their beliefs that they CAN do what is being presented or asked, then somehow they (and we) tend to exceed expectations. In short we learn not to get in our own way. So in this very short 45 min session, I presented a full version of a pop song that we as a group would play, gave them a whistle-stop instructional tour of the basics of holding the instruments, gave them graphic scores for the song with their parts on it (we divided into sections, like in an orchestra). They were responsible for 5 different parts, and I took the remaining two parts, with the help of my loop pedal.
We only had time for one full run through of the song, but it worked! Along the way there were some supremely good ‘failures’, which after all is what happens when we learn. Don’t get me wrong, I do NOT mean they actually failed, but in music the act of creation is something that is ‘out there’, it is sound, and unlike thoughts or even typed text, that can be kept private until polished, sound is obviously exposed. Certainly in this group setting, all of the initial workings-out and explorations were very public. Those who sat there and did it, the bosses who willingly found their notes and squeaked alongside the students and their other colleagues, they deserve a HUGE well done. It takes guts, and it was exposing and it was a risk – and the joyous thing is that they all did it with a smile. There was a sense of I CAN, and there was laughter, and they were playing – both in terms of violins, violas, and cellos, but also in terms of playfulness. It is a real privilege that I was allowed to bring that in the middle of a very nice buffet lunch.
I won’t pretend we produced a concert performance, but I thought everyone did really well, and did achieve. Afterwards I told them they were both brilliant failures and brilliant successes. I sincerely hope they understood that I meant they were great learners, they allowed themselves to be vulnerable, to learn, to co-learn, and to be open, and as a result they were able to grow and achieve.
Many thanks to Crostóbal Cobo for the short video clip and the group photos.
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