In the eight months since Stringbabies for Viola was published,such a lot has happened and being asked to write an update for the BVS provides a wonderful opportunity to take stock and reflect.
Regarding the viola book; sales were quite enthusiastic to begin with and I was particularly encouraged by a modest order from the USA. Needless to say, we don’t sit on our laurels and there is always the need to keep working on spreading the word about Stringbabies and especially the version for Viola!
So to turn to events since publication; one of my long term aims has been to recruit the most experienced Stringbabies teaching colleagues as Stringbabies teacher trainers. This process started last year with one colleague setting up a workshop day in Somerset last year, which was repeated this year. I led a training day in Poynton, near Manchester and in July and October, two colleagues will be leading days in Kent and London.
Teacher training by SKYPE has proved quite successful and a few weeks ago we were thrilled to gain our first partner school in the USA, following SKYPE training. I have more SKYPE training to the USA coming up over summer. There has been a marked up turn in interest in Stringbabies from individual teachers, schools and music services in recent months, so Jenny (my assistant) and I have our hands full!
If any BVA members are attending the ESTA summer school in Cheltenham (9-14th August), I will be talking about Stringbabies as well as leading the daily sessions on lower strings basics. Do come and introduce yourself to me!
One very important development has been establishing a relationship with the Soundpost Ltd. Stringbabies is endorsing their range of student instruments (the Primavera range) and we had our first date together at the Music Expo in the Barbican in March. Their instruments are absolutely beautiful and they have a super range of violas in all sizes! Do take a look on their website www.thesoundpost.co.uk
When time has allowed, I am pulling together a collection of additional repertoire pieces called Stringbabies Zoo…all the songs are about animals of one description or another (of course) and some of the lyrics are quite zany.
My 83 year old father (who has grown old disgracefully and still enjoys the odd ride on supermarket trolleys) has provided some lyrics. Others have come from myself, my pupils and a dear distant cousin who wrote the 60th anniversary Noddy book. The frustrating thing is that everything is all nearly there and it is the last 5% which takes up the time!
In addition, there are trials of a version for recorder going on and we have just started trying out some ideas for classroom application to KS1 pupils. A piano version has been under development for some time and a few Stringbabies colleagues are trying out the ideas. Stringbabies for Double bass was completed about 18 months ago, and is awaiting some serious road testing before publication.
One very important lesson has been brought home afresh this year and that is that word of mouth counts for a great deal. I firmly believe that the viola can be started at an early age and the Stringbabies approach exists to help make that process easier and immense fun for beginners of all ages,(but particularly the very young). Please do spread the word amongst your teaching colleagues about it and I hope we will see some of you at the training days or may be the ESTA summer school.
Stringbabies teacher training day in Kent is on Saturday July 18th.
Please visit www.stringbabies.com for the latest information and details.
11 June 2015