Mozart Workshop

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Professor John Irving and Jane Booth

On Friday 6 May, music students in Years 7, 8, 9 and 10 were joined by a group of Year 7 and 9 students from Eskdale School in the Normanby hall to attend a workshop on the music of Mozart by two very special visitors: Professor John Irving, who is Professor of Performance Practice at Trinity Laban Conservatoire, London, and Jane Booth, who is Head of Historical Performance at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London. They both specialise in ‘period instruments’ – copies of instruments from the 18th century, on which they explore and perform music from the time of Bach, Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven.

They delivered some captivating performances of the different movements of an arrangement of Mozart’s clarinet Quintet. They also spoke to the students about Mozart’s life and how he was influenced by his surroundings. What they emphasised most though, was that whilst Mozart was clearly talented, this only got him so far, with John saying that, “Talent is not enough for anyone to go far – talent may help in the first instance but what matters most is hard work”.

Both John and Jane also spoke about performance practice and how it is not necessarily the length of practice sessions that is most important but how you practice: “You need to identify what you are doing wrong or what precisely needs work and focus on just that. Your practice should be really focused”.

The two musicians were impressed with how well the students listened and said that this is just one of the many important and transferable life skills that we can learn from music, adding that, “Listening is just as important as doing”. Practice towards a performance also develops one’s resilience and determination and they encouraged students to always think about how they could push themselves further, in any situation, and to consider what effort they are going to have to put in to do that – as Professor Irving said, “There are no shortcuts to becoming expert at anything”.

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