Tuesday, 29 November 2011

A little history and a big achievement: the Jimena Music School

Author in full swing
(By David Higginbottom) Growing out of the amazing spectacle and success of the Jimena International Music Festival, from 2001 to 2008, the Jimena Music School started in autumn 2003, with only two teachers, covering general musicianship, violin, recorder and piano. Despite the recession and severe cutbacks, the school continues to flourish, now with four teaching staff and is probably the cheapest non-funded instrumental learning scheme in Europe. The cost of lessons is more or less one quarter of what it would cost elsewhere and represents great value for money. Made up of a lovely mix of nationalities, although mainly Spanish, the school is based in the Casa de la Cultura in Jimena and meets for lessons and practices on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays after school finishes, usually from 3.45 onwards.>>>
Over the period from 2007 to the present, the school has developed beyond anybody's expectations and it now has about 40 students learning a range of instruments – piano, violin, viola, cello and recorder. This coming year,>>>
those numbers are expected to increase yet again. Instruments initially can be provided on a cheap rental basis and if promise is shown and children wish to continue learning after a year, as all of them do, then they are encouraged later to buy their own instrument.In any sort of institution, setting a timetable is always a problem, and the music school is no exception.

It would be a brave man who did not take account of the Spanish love of football, so most of the lessons revolve around what matches the children might be playing on that day – and so it should be!!

Unique Children's Orchestra

Unique in this part of Spain is the Children's Orchestra, on which enormous emphasis is placed.In the Conservatories, students don't usually have the opportunity to play in an orchestra until they reach a relatively high level of accomplishment.  In Jimena School of Music, they join the orchestra after one year of learning during which they participate in a beginners' group.

A delightful balance of discipline with fun, together with attractive, carefully thought-out musical content has ensured that the regular concerts are of a high standard and very well received by the local community, and further afield. The school uses the largest of the British music examining boards, The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, widely recognised as the world's foremost examining board for young musicians.The teachers themselves are proven experts in their own fields and their success with instrumental and young orchestra coaching has been met with acclaim all over the world.

A great amount of credit for the huge success of the school is due to the wholehearted support of the Ayuntamiento, Coda Cultural Association and of course, the parents, who all recognise the difficulties of learning an instrument, particularly a stringed instrument, yet understand the deep benefits associated with this.

We believe that music should be a part of every young person's life.  Those who think it’s a chore – think again! Learning any instrument is great fun and, in the pursuit of excellence in performance, it strengthens character, builds confidence and fuels ambition. Research has suggested time and again that the study of instruments has the added bonus of enhancing performance in the twin areas of Language and Mathematics, as well as aiding learning ability in all subjects.

All this, however, is only the tip of the iceberg compared to the quality of life that playing a musical instrument can give to a person. Appreciation of music and the arts guides one towards an appreciation of all the good things in life and is a possession to be to be treasured.

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