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Southern Asia

The strings project: supporting young musicians in India

3 years ago


Our international sponsorship fund is open for applications to any individual, group or music organisation outside the UK and Ireland engaging in activities that inspire more people to participate in music, music teaching and learning.

The fund recently supported a worthy endeavour by Hebron School in India’s Tamil Nadu state, a co-educational boarding school for the children of Christian workers.

The strings project

The head of music at the school, Andrew Trythall, identified bowed strings as a priority development area and began the strings project, inspired by a visit from a Venezuelan conductor who has been working with the El Sistema voluntary sector music education programme. The school recruited a dedicated strings teacher, Rosemary Graham, to support the endeavour.

Now in its third year, the aim of the project is to give every Junior School student the opportunity to play a stringed instrument. The children stay with their chosen instrument (whether it’s a violin or viola, etc.), throughout their time in Junior School and by the time this particular cohort reaches their final year the intention is for the school to have a strings orchestra.

Hebron School

Providing support for instrumental provision

In the first of year of the project, violins and violas were introduced to a small class. The school had bigger ambitions and wanted to introduce cellos, but this remained considerably beyond their financial means. That’s when they applied to the ABRSM international sponsorship fund for support, as they couldn’t have continued with the project without this help.

ABRSM funding helped to pay for eleven half-sized cellos, as well as larger violins and violas for students who joined the project but have have now outgrown the smaller instruments. The smaller ones are now being used by younger students.

Hebron School

The teacher: Rosemary

Rosemary Graham, the strings teacher, described the positive impact the project has had:

"The pupils and parents have gained a real feel-good factor in the students having the opportunity to learn a stringed instrument and play as part of an ensemble.

“It has been very exciting for them (and me!) to make music together.

“The children have been introduced to playing an instrument that they might not have had the opportunity to do. It has given them a good foundation and now some of them are doing ABRSM Grade 1."

Hebron School

The student: Abigail

Abigail, who is 10, described why she and her fellow students enjoy playing the cello:

“My class and I are learning to play the cello.

“We like playing the cello because it is nice to play an instrument, and to play an instrument well is a real talent! Playing the cello can be difficult too, as it takes a while to get used to holding the bow for a long period of time.

“We do not play the cello all the time though. In one of our lessons, we play the cello and in the other lesson we work on our theory booklet, which is fun.

“We like playing the cello. We realise that it is not something everyone can do. We are very lucky!”

The students receive class music lessons, which incorporate the UK national curriculum, and are taught melody, rhythm, composition and theory through interacting with their bowed strings instruments.

The next part of the project is to introduce the double bass into classes - watch this space!

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