Situated near Chicago’s cultural epicenter, British International School of Chicago, South Loop, frequently plays host to many professional artists. We recently had the honor of welcoming Rachel Barton Pine, an internationally acclaimed concert violinist, for a workshop with students.
A Chicago native, Ms. Pine made her professional debut at age seven with the Chicago String Ensemble. She holds prizes from several of the world’s leading competitions, including a gold medal at the 1992 J.S. Bach International Violin Competition in Leipzig, Germany. Today, Rachel tours the world with prestigious orchestras, has an active recording career and runs The Rachel Elizabeth Barton Foundation to promote classical music education and performances.
The workshop gave several of our student violinists an intimate peek into the hard work and resiliency required to become a professional musician. Ms. Pine was a committed student of the violin from an early age, practicing up to eight hours every day by age seven. In her teens, she played gigs on top of her rigorous musical and academic studies, and her dedication over the years led to several international awards and festival appearances. In 1995, Ms. Pine’s decorated career was put on hold after she sustained serious injuries in an accident on a commuter train. She took a two-year hiatus to recover and undergo physical therapy, and eventually resumed her career more committed than ever. The students were engrossed in Ms. Pine’s story and said it left them feeling inspired. “It was motivating to think about how young she started on the violin and how invested she was from the start,” said Katie, Year 7.
Following the discussion of Ms. Pine’s career, the group explored how music conveys emotion by listening to a range of pieces and describing the mood. Then, Ms. Pine showed the students how to change the mood of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” with minor tweaks on the violin. “The pieces that Ms. Pine played were very cool,” Zoe, Year 7, said. “It was interesting to see how many different tunes and melodies the violin can play.” The students really enjoyed this exercise, which helped them relate the various interpretations to what they’ve been practicing in class.
The session closed with a big group performance that included many different musical styles, like Baroque, Romantic, Classical, Scottish, Funk and Rock. The students especially loved jamming out with Ms. Pine to the “12 Bar Blues".
It was an inspiring session, and the students left excited to mirror Ms. Pine’s dedication as well as try her techniques on their own instruments.
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