The Nicola Benedetti Strings Festival

On May  6 and 7 the European String Teachers Association (ESTA) and Saffron Hall joined forces with Nicola to present a weekend of activities and events devoted to the teaching and learning of stringed instruments.

Presented by ESTA in partnership with Saffron Hall, this two-day festival was the first collaboration between the two organisations, and had been designed in partnership with Nicola to bring teachers and students under one roof for a weekend packed full of inspiring ideas, provocative discussion and knowledge sharing.

The Nicola Benedetti Strings Festival was built upon Nicola’s existing relationship with Saffron Hall’s Learning & Participation programme, and her own advocacy of the importance of music and other expressive arts in education. Each season, Nicola devotes a significant part of her time to education visits and workshops throughout the country and worldwide.

Across the weekend, Nicola delivered a number of workshops, discussions and performance sessions alongside acclaimed guest teachers including Andrea Gajic, Steve Bingham, Simon Cartledge and William Bruce. Nicola drew from her personal experiences as a student, with observations that were relevant to string players and teachers of all ages and ability.

Saturday 6 May: Family Day
Music making, workshops and seminars, aimed at string learners of all ages and abilities. Nicola delivered a number of sessions looking at healthy approaches to the physicality of playing, drawing on her personal experiences as a young student. An Open String Orchestra session provided an opportunity to play in a string orchestra led by Nicola, putting some ideas into action.

Sunday 7 May: Professional Development Day for String Teachers
An opportunity to share experiences and pedagogic insights into teaching and playing. Nicola held discussions on developing strong technique whilst developing musicianship, her approach to using repertoire to combine exercise and study, finishing with a special “Question Time Panel” – a chance for teachers to ask their burning questions to a distinguished panel.