Musician gets tech-savvy to help Chichester University student complete degree.

Before the Coronavirus lockdown, clarinettist Margaret Archibald had never considered playing her instruments on YouTube or giving a lesson over Skype. As an experienced musician, she was much more at home with traditional sheet music and face-to-face teaching.

Margaret is a longstanding member of Arundel-based period instrument orchestra The Hanover Band, which is the official orchestra in residence at the University of Chichester. Margaret and The Band were due to visit the university in April for an intensive three-day course.

But the pandemic put a stop to that, and when one of the students at the University of Chichester got in touch to ask for help with her coursework, Margaret, 71, gamely rose to the challenge.

 With the help of her son, Rob, she learnt about recording online, teaching over the internet and uploading videos so music student Kate Young could finish her studies.

“It has been wonderful to be able to help Kate with her coursework despite being on lockdown,” she says. “I recorded five separate movements for her so she could see and hear the different tone qualities.

“For me it was a real challenge because I have never had to teach in such a way before and had absolutely no idea how to do any of this just a few weeks ago. 

“It had never occurred to me to teach in this way until I had to, but I am now doing quite a few Skype lessons.”

The Hanover Band, in collaboration with the University of Chichester has put together an academic module focussing on historical performance, the first of its kind. As part of the practical course, players from the band rehearse and perform alongside the students a few times each academic year. This third workshop was meant to cement what they had learnt in previous rehearsals and build upon their knowledge of Beethoven.

However, the Coronavirus pandemic meant the final course was cancelled, which was when Margaret, who also runs music charity Everyone Matters, was contacted by student Kate. Kate, 20, who is in her third year of a Music Performance Degree at Chichester, had been learning from Margaret and The Hanover Band at the previous intensive sessions in October and February. 

Kate says: “Margaret was kind enough to record some parts for my presentation. She took time to learn the parts for my benefit which I am hugely grateful for. I have been a part of the Uni/Hanover crossover for the last three years and Margaret has always been willing to help and has taught me a lot.”

Kate adds: “Margaret has a wealth of knowledge about Beethoven and his music. She has taught me a great deal about how Beethoven’s music should be played for example, what notes to put emphasis on and to close the note off at the end of a phrase before starting a new one.” 

“If I had any questions or worries, she would always be there to help, even if it was taking time out of her break.” 

“Margaret is extremely funny and generally a terrific person to work with! As for working with the Hanover Band, it is a great experience and I look forward to working on and playing much more Beethoven’s with them.”

The Hanover Band is proud to continue helping students during the lockdown. Band Chief Executive Stephen Neiman says: “I am so pleased our musicians are able to continue to support students at the university despite being stuck in lockdown and look forward to continuing our work with them in real time next year.”

Find out more information about The Hanover Band’s educational work here.