The annual Armidale Eisteddfod is one of the many opportunities available throughout the year for our talented string students to perform. There is always an air of nervous excitement at such an event and great camaraderie evident as family and friends support each performer. The string events spread over four days in the second week of June with NECOM students involved in solo performances, duets, chamber music, school and community string ensembles. Congratulations to all the winners of each section and especially to Elinor Warwick for winning the Open New England String Championship event. The NECOM teachers were very actively involved for the duration of the string events supporting their individual students as well as featuring as directors of string ensembles for PLC, NEGS, TAS, ACPS, ASC, UNE and the Armidale Youth String Orchestra. Thanks go to the flamboyant adjudicator, Louise King, and her favourite message about focusing on the “Three Ts” when preparing for a performance: Tone, Tuning and Timing.
Alexander Technique Workshop: NECOM staff had the opportunity at the start of the year to have local Alexander Technique teacher, Janet Poulsen, give an introductory talk on the benefits of the Alexander Technique. Considering the benefits of education around correct posture, especially for young musicians, Janet was invited to return and give another introductory session specifically aimed at our high school students. The students found the workshop very engaging and were able to take away an insight into correct posture and care of the spine. Musicians have to deal with how to best support and play their instrument without creating unnecessary pain and discomfort. Through gaining an understanding of how the spine works and ways to manage good posture, musicians absorb invaluable information that should stay with them throughout their life.
Liz Layton workshops/masterclasses. Following on from the success of last year’s visit by violin teacher and Head of Strings Liz Layton from the Elder Conservatorium, University of Adelaide it was a pleasure to have her return once again to give masterclasses, individual lessons and workshop preparation of the Australian Youth Orchestra Audition Orchestral excerpts for applicants. This is a great initiative of the Elder Conservatorium as it also doubles as an audition for acceptance into the undergraduate course at Elder Conservatorium for any of our year 12 string players. Successful applicants from last year were violinist Dominique Holly and cellist Randall Bollenhagen, who both made the decision to take up the offer and by all accounts are really enjoying their tertiary studies in Adelaide.