SA Mini Conference 14/15/March 20 Report by Samantha Raftery
AUSTA SA Mini Conference
Over the course of the mid-March weekend, the South Australian branch of AUSTA was fortunate enough to have Robin Wilson lead us through a mini conference, comprised of presentations, discussions and masterclasses. This provided a wonderful opportunity for young string players to develop their skills as performers. Music educators were also treated to a number of valuable presentations that offered excellent professional development opportunities. Overall, it was pleasing to see a large number of attendees and such positive responses from those who attended.
The first day’s offerings saw an excellent presentation on the development of bow arm and left hand technique. Various exercises were presented with excellent analogies that help to explain the desired movements. Examples include the ‘stirring the pot’ motion and ‘pinkie push-ups’. In addition, Wilson discussed the use and preparation of studies to assist students in the development of their repertoire. He highlighted the importance of developing character, instead of just learning the notes in the exercise, as well as a detailed discussion of some of the important skills that etudes can explore.
Over the second day, we were treated to a number of wonderful presentations from AUSTA national committee members. Louise Butler provided some wonderful advice about directing string ensembles. I particularly loved the little Count Von Count toys that she uses as a physical cue for when students are not counting the rests! Louise also presented a number of fun games and ideas to encourage the students to work together as an ensemble. James de Rozario discussed his experiences with working in schools and highlighted some wonderful strategies to help engage and be seen within the school community. He highlighted the importance of interacting and assisting other staff members, as well as putting on regular concerts to showcase the students’ development. The final presenter in this session was Karen Kyriakou, who discussed some strategies for building a set of sequential lessons for group or individual teaching. She highlighted the importance of keeping regular lesson notes and offered some advice for report writing at the end of each term, with reference to the Australian curriculum documentation.
It was wonderful to see Robin Wilson working alongside the young students in the masterclasses. Wilson bought a lot of energy and lightness to his feedback and highlighted important character traits that could be emphasised within the score. The students were attentive and responded well to Wilson’s advice. The students performed a wonderful array of challenging repertoire that showcased their fantastic skills on the instrument.
AUSTA SA was very grateful to all of the presenters and performers who helped to make this a successful mini conference, with some very helpful advice that will be utilised in future music lessons.