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A Journey from Student to Fellow Teacher

James McBeth - Cellist/Teacher

To begin, a short(ish) background about myself: I began studying the cello with Alida at the tender age of 12, before the existence of ChromaMusic and the community branch it has recently developed. After a few years, I then picked up the piano. I spent six years progressing through the grades with both instruments, working my way up through the challenges of technique and music.

For those who don’t know me you may be wondering, which instrument became “the One”?

I graduated from the school of Alida and studied with another teacher, before beginning my BMus in Music Performance at Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. Following on, I successfully got a place at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where I am now a Junior Fellow. My instrument of choice was the cello due to its versatility and luscious tone (I may be a bit biassed here!)

Alongside studying, I grew a passion for teaching from the opportunities and support that Alida had given me throughout the years. I have been giving lessons for around 6 years now. Teaching has been a crucial part of my understanding of playing and music itself, and people often hear me say that teachers learn just as much from the student as the student may learn from the teacher. Alida and I often joked about when “the student becomes the teacher”, which proved true as I have begun giving lessons to Alida to impart the knowledge gained during my time at Conservatoire training.

Eventually this led to Alida asking me if I’d like to participate in giving workshops and providing support in ChromaMusic’s community projects, Cello Club and Community Orchestra. These groups are a vital part of music-making that needs to be generously cultivated. It has been wonderful to be a part of them, and watching the learners grow and develop. I’m not always able to attend rehearsals due to work, but when I do, I eagerly look forward to seeing how everyone has progressed since my previous time!

I was fortunate to perform alongside the Community Orchestra back in March for their inaugural concert, playing a commissioned work by Jacob Smith which reflected on the emotional effects of the initial COVID Pandemic. It was the first time that many of the orchestra members had performed with other people, and they even accompanied soloists (which is quite a tricky skill as us soloists often like to do whatever we want!) This project brought together a melting pot of musicians from different backgrounds, which provided both a unique atmosphere of excitement, and a range of obstacles to overcome. I’m glad to say the concert was an astounding success! The next two concerts in October and December will not disappoint and will show how far the orchestra has developed. The October concert will feature a variety of works from the Classical and Film worlds, whilst the December one will provide plenty of festive cheer! I look forward to performing in them, and I hope to see you there too!

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