Virtual Workshops for Orchestra Members
“Sheltering in place gives us an opportunity to flex our creative muscles,” cellist Titilayo Ayangade said to middle and high school orchestra students. "We're all learning new online tools. The quartet is learning how to have efficient meetings and strategize for the future. I am taking time to learn new music from living composers!"
Titi's comment was part of a virtual workshop that she and the other musicians of the Thalea String Quartet led for two dozen members of John Jay's middle and high school orchestra on May 11.
The quartet is the string-quartet-in-residence at Caramoor. Last fall, they visited John Jay Middle and High School to work alongside members of the orchestras. Because they were unable to return this spring, the quartet created this virtual workshop from their base in Austin, Texas.
Before digging into the theme and variations movement of Haydn’s “Emperor” String Quartet, the members of the Thalea String Quartet shared their personal practice tips, musician to musician.
- “Live, breathe, commit,” said Titi. “In a quartet, there are usually four different ideas. No matter who has an idea, give it your all. We usually find that, by the end, our ideas have blended.”
- “Identify trouble spots,” said Luis Bellorín, the violist. “Focus on each one for five minutes."
- “I begin with 15-second bows on open strings,” said Kumiko Sakamoto, one of the violinists. “I find it’s calming and meditative. Plus, it opens my instrument.”
- “Practice being your own teacher,” said violinist Christopher Whitley. “I record myself. It’s amazing how quickly you notice your errors and correct yourself when you watch recordings of yourself.”
“I’d like to thank the Thalea String Quartet and Caramoor for providing my students with this fantastic workshop,” said Elissa Leventhal, the conductor of the middle school and high school orchestras. “Students got a chance to hear each other play, get feedback from professionals, and simply be together for a short while."
“Especially during tough times like these, it’s more important than ever to stay connected and keep on doing the things we love, like play music.”