A week of Ethno music in York – Ethno Research
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A week of Ethno music in York

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A week of Ethno music in York

Last week, students at York St John University really felt the benefit of the Ethno Research project being based at their institution, when they were invited to take part in workshops and two performances across the week, led by talented folk musicians from around the world.

On Tuesday 15th October, third year Music: Education and Community BA students were introduced to the Ethno concept by Lauren Spiceley and Maya McCourt from Oxford-based Tandem Collective, both organisers of Ethno England and with experience of many Ethno music camps around the world, either as participants or Artistic Leaders.

Lauren Spiceley and Maya McCourt (Tandem Collective) workshop

Their full-day workshop encouraged students to reflect on the pedagogy of the Ethno model through practical experience of the teaching and learning that often takes place on a camp, with particular attention paid to the peer-to-peer learning approach. After a morning of reflective discussion and learning songs that Lauren and Maya themselves had picked up at Ethno camps, the pair invited students to take the lead and teach a traditional piece to the group, following the Ethno process.

Catherine Birch, Lecturer in Community Music, said: “The students responded really positively to the Ethno-style facilitation methods and found it a great opportunity to develop new skills, especially for those less familiar with learning by ear and improvisation techniques.” 

Later that evening, Lauren and Maya presented a short concert on campus with tunes and songs from Ethno camps across the world, and were joined by the Music: Education and Community students to perform one of the songs they had learned and arranged that day.

Varldens band perform at York St John University
Världens Band lead a workshop

On Friday 18th October, the university was lucky enough to receive a visit from Världens Band, an ensemble of 13 musicians from 7 countries and 3 continents who first met on an Ethno camp back in 2010. Since then, they have toured as a band, performing a mix of folk and roots music from all members’ native countries in a style self-branded as ‘Transglobal Roots Fusion’.

20 students participated in an open workshop led by the ensemble, enabling them to play and sing as part of the band and, taking direction from the various sections of the ensemble, to create a new arrangement of a Senegalese song in Världens Band’s repertoire. The band rounded off their visit by performing an exceptional one-hour concert in the Chapel that evening, showing off the uniqueness of the band’s sound characterised by a “collision of cultures”. Joining them in their finale were the workshop participants from earlier in the day, for a performance of the piece they had prepared in the session, undeniably a fantastic opportunity for those students.

York St John students perform alongside Världens Band

Lee Higgins, Director of the ICCM, said “it’s great to see the Ethno Research project play a part in enriching the learning of the undergraduate music students”

Sarah-Jane Gibson, Post-Doctoral Researcher at the ICCM, said “The concert was absolutely outstanding, and opened the students’ eyes with regard to what is possible to achieve musically as a large ensemble. Whilst we are mainly here for the Ethno research, this concert was a way to reach out to the students at the university and give them a chance to engage with top class musicians.”

Millie Raw Mackenzie
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