Here are some photos from L'Académie Camac - keep out an eye for regular additions...
The Camac team’s toughest déplacement (trip) of the year has begun: L’Académie Camac. We’re staying at the beautiful Mas de la Rabassière, a luxury B&B in Provence in the South of France. Our host, Michael Frost, is fast becoming a course living legend, as well as being possibly the best cook in the world.
Most people decide to become musicians because they love music more than almost anything else. Love and ease are not the same, because you care profoundly about what happens to those or what you love. In music, what you love needs a lot of time, quiet work and reflection to realize – and there are always a lot of demands on your time. This juggling always shouts most loudly for attention, and while it does have a positive side, if you are always only juggling you will not reach the heart of music. We therefore wanted to create a week for young artists, with the best possible teaching, and also the space to absorb it.
Love and ease are not the same, and nor is there anything magically instantaneous about the pursuit of excellence. Several of the students have come out of their first lesson looking dazed: “I’ve got more to write down after an hour and a half than in all the lessons I’ve had in my life before”, said one. Germaine Lorenzini’s teaching is very strong. You will know this if you’ve ever had it, and you’ll have an inkling of it if you’ve read her recent interview in Harp Column Magazine. It is an intense experience, for profound and real results. We'll do our best to give a sense of some of it, throughout the week.
Jesús Suárez, Jesús Medina, Rayder Alvarado, Yohander Millán performing "Momentos" by Leonard Jacome.
On March 9th, 2014, L'Espace Camac is host to Quentin Vestur and his Duo Sunstep. Quentin was our Camac Voice of September 2013, and you can read his interview here. We're looking forward to a workshop on arranging Breton and Irish music - Quentin's particular specialisms - for the lever harp. Duo Sunstep consists of Quentin on lever harp, and Glenn Gouthe on uilleann pipes. They are your chance to discover Scottish, Irish and Breton melodies, dances and airs, heard in arrangements ranging from the elaborate to the simple, and always performed with sensitivity, creativity and swing.
As ever, contact Claude to reserve your seats: [email protected], or telephone 00 33 1 40 40 08 40.
I used to learn the harp with Daphne Boden, the pedagogic genius behind 99.9% of British professional harpists of my generation. You could spot a Boden pupil a mile off: they swept the board at competitions and played with a level of polish you rarely saw elsewhere.
My mother, also a teacher, sat in on the ends of lessons when she came to pick me up. "How does Daphne do it?", I asked her one day. "Is it the minimum one hour's practice a day thing?" "It's partly that", said my mum. "You need some courage to require it, because you have to let pupils go if they don't do it. But apart from the fact all Daphne's students practise, she is absolutely clear. By the time she's been through a new piece with you, you know exactly what she wants you to do. She's also a master of choosing pieces that will stretch you, but which are not too difficult for you. The combination of good preparation, well-chosen repertoire and knowing exactly what you are supposed to do means you almost never have a bad experience with a piece of music. You never question whether or not you can do it, because if you do what Daphne says, you always can. And you are so well-prepared for a performance that you don't spend much time worrying about whether you'll wipe out on stage, because it has never happened."
We recently gave away three copies of Katryna Tan's super new book, Unleash the Musician in You. This guide also has great clarity of thought about how young students can successfully study music, and indeed there are few examples of great teaching that are not clear. Katryna's book also disproves the amateur psychology - sometimes lurking on the margins of poor teaching - that clarity, and emotional expression or intensity are somehow mutually exclusive. On the contrary, Unleash the Musician in You constantly stresses that emotional expression, and artistry in music, are not only essential, but that they can be nurtured.
It is true that exceptional talent exists, and doesn't come from anywhere we can easily explain. But music is bigger than this realm alone, and this is why it is important. It enriches the lives of all sorts of so-called levels of talent, if it is properly taught:
Many thanks to Michèle Orzan for sending Harpblog this tribute to her teacher, Jeannine Perrenin-Maublanc, who passed away last June.
It's a shame music teachers are often unsung heroes. Nobody is more essential to a life of or in music, and indeed beyond music too. As Michèle writes, a great teacher will have a profound influence on you professionally and personally. Her tribute reminds me of some more wise words from the pianist and Julliard School Director, Edward Steuermann, who said this in his Julliard convocation address in 1964:
"If you want to understand art, you have to understand the world; in order to understand the world, you have to understand human beings; then you will understand youselves, and that is the key to everything. That will make playing, composing, dancing less an exhibition of unimportant skills in a society game, meeting with more or less approval, blindly climbing up the deceitful ladder of success, but an opening of your heart to the world and the world to your heart. And that is what you came here for, this is what makes music one of the most sublime emanations of the human spirit, that is what makes it worthwhile to devote one's life to it. Looking back on my own life, I recognize my good fortune in having had as my masters some real heroes of music."
We're packing our suitcases and heading for Bordeaux, where our eighth Camac festival will take place over this weekend. From a classical "grand répertoire" concert to an exciting new harp big band project, via Celtic and Latin harp music, we're looking forward to a harpélidoskope of musical diversity. Our annual festival is also the site of our biggest touring exhibition, and, as with as many of our events as we can manage, it's a chance to have your harp regulated for free.
A très bientôt, à Bordeaux !
What better validation of your teaching methods could you wish for, than the success of Katryna Tan's Rave Harpers? Katryna's new book is out: Unleash the Musician in You! Secrets to a Successful Musical Journey. The book contains strategies based on Katryna's decade of teaching experience, aimed at helping students from the very beginning. There is particular focus on practising, developing musicality and building confidence on stage, and many real-life case studies.
Harpblog has THREE FREE copies to give away! Please email us: [email protected] with your name and address.