We spoke to Maria about how she first became involved with tutoring this course,
“I first met Robert at a freelance concert and he suggested I should write to the BBC to be put on their “extras ” list. This seems like an awfully long time ago, 15 or even 20 years ago. Since then I’ve been going into the BBC National Orchestra of Wales on a fairly regular basis an extra player on bassoon and contra.
After a few years Robert asked if I would be interested in helping him on his Jackdaws bassoon course, this must have been 14 Years ago, and I’ve been tutoring with him ever since. It has always been a great pleasure to work with a wonderful musician, I’ve also learned a lot from him and his wonderful sense of humour always makes me laugh.”
Maria studied bassoon at the Geneva Conservatoire with Roger Birnstingl where she received the Prix de Virtosite in 1989. She has played with several European orchestras and has held the position of second bassoon and contra bassoon with the Gulbenkian Orchestra in Lisbon, Portugal. She taught the Birmingham Conservatoire for 11 years and currently teaches at Cheltenham Ladies College.
The weekend with Maria and Robert is a wonderful experience; relaxed, friendly and not at all competitive. Maria says, “I like to think people who come on the course can be relaxed and share in all the bassoon knowledge that everyone brings to the course, be it tutor or participant.”
“We always try and choose a theme for the course, perhaps unaccompanied pieces, cadenzas or fingerings but we also ask the participants what they are struggling with and then try and structure the various sessions around these problems so that we can all learn how to deal with them.
Ensemble work is the central part of the course and we have a wide variety of pieces that generally suit people’s different strengths so that it is not a problem if someone has a lot or a little experience of playing in ensembles. We try to make everyone feel as confident as possible within the group so that they can perform at their best.”
Asking Maria, she says that the most gratifying thing about teaching at Jackdaws is, “when people come back time after time particularly when we can hear how their playing improves year after year and I hope that perhaps, the Jackdaws course will have contributed to that, at least a little. ”