• Keyboard Camp 2017 A Huge Success
    10 Years Of Keyboard Camp! (Photo: Will Jones)
    10 Years Of Keyboard Camp! · Will Jones

    The first time I’ve got ’round to sitting down to write about it, even though it was now three weeks ago… (After Keyboard Camp finished, it was straight into four gigs over three days that weekend; an exhausting four-day studio refit; another weekend of gigs right down in the toes of Cornwall; and a day of PA system setup in readiness for new ventures this summer… More on all of that soon enough!) But I am delighted that the tenth anniversary of the (by now) famous NKO Keyboard Camp was such a success!

    With music drawn from the material we have learnt as an orchestra over the previous nine residentials (plus some new music thrown in especially for this year) – as well as party games, birthday cake, a nostalgic photo slideshows from Keyboard Camps gone by – and culminating in an evening performance showcasing all the hard work and preparation over the past four days, the tenth Keyboard Camp was a true celebration of what makes it special, and exciting.

    Sectional rehearsals in The Big Room at How Hill
    Sectional Rehearsals In The Big Room At How Hill

    I have always been proud to be associated with a residential music course which is always evolving and improving, and where the students keep coming back year after year (for nine years in a row, in some cases!), and still want more…

    As well as sectional and full orchestral rehearsals covering a wide range of musical styles, students at Keyboard Camp are treated to workshops which allow them to be more creative, and work with music in other formats; this year’s Keyboard Camp workshops touched on arranging music and songwriting techniques – and, for the most advanced students, a technology-rich session on creating a remix of a hit song.

    Remix workshop at Keyboard Camp (Photo: Hannah Brigham)
    Remix Workshop At Keyboard Camp · Hannah Brigham
    Remix workshop at Keyboard Camp (Photo: Hannah Brigham)
    Remix Workshop At Keyboard Camp · Hannah Brigham

    Non-keyboard based musical activities have formed a larger and larger part of Keyboard Camp as the years have gone, and this year saw us attempt some of our most ambitious projects yet – our ‘Tin Can Orchestra’, taking on the Heinz Can Song Challenge, and our ‘Rain Choir’ singing in four-part harmony – with great success.

    It is the ever-increasing focus on providing this well-rounded musical experience which helps to make Keyboard Camp unique; giving our students the opportunities to express themselves and make music in different ways ensures that they are not only developing their keyboard skills over the four days they are with us, but also their overall musicianship, cooperation and ensemble skills, and general understanding of what being a musician is really all about.

    'Tin Can Orchestra' rehearsals
    ‘Tin Can Orchestra’ Rehearsals

    And of course, no Keyboard Camp would be complete without the team Quiz, and our world-famous Talent Show (which, this year, saw the Staff team enter a cover of The Bangles’ ‘Walk Like An Egyptian’, to universal acclaim).

    Quiz night at Keyboard Camp
    Quiz Night At Keyboard Camp

    Since the course ended, we have had all kinds of lovely feedback from the students who attended this year’s Keyboard Camp – showing once again what an incredible difference this yearly event in music education, and what a positive impact it can have on the students who come back time and time again.

    Remix workshop at Keyboard Camp (Photo: Hannah Brigham)
    Remix Workshop At Keyboard Camp · Hannah Brigham

    And it is never too early to register your interest for next year’s Keyboard Camp! In 2018, we will return to How Hill for the sixth time (it will be the eleventh Keyboard Camp, in total) for more musical fun (on keyboards and off them!); more games; more whacky talent show entries; more late-night hot chocolate; and more opportunities to enjoy learning about music, and progressing as a musician alongside other like-minded young keyboard and piano students.

    Conducting the Keyboard Camp 'Rain Choir' performance, outdoors in the sunshine! (Photo: Will Jones)
    Conducting The Keyboard Camp ‘Rain Choir’ Performance, Outdoors In The Sunshine · Will Jones
  • Ten Years Of Keyboard Camp

    Ten Years Of Keyboard Camp

    Keyboard Camp – the exciting four-day residential course for keyboard and piano players, held every Easter in the heart of rural Norfolk (first at Wymondham College, and subsequently at Whitwell Hall and now the How Hill Trust) – is turning ten years old this year! First held in 2008, this year’s Camp marks the ten-year anniversary of what has become the highlight of the musical year for many young keyboard players and pianists in the area.

    Sectional rehearsals in The Big Room at How Hill
    Sectional Rehearsals In The Big Room At How Hill · Kerry Marsden

    Organised and run by the team from the Norfolk Keyboard Orchestra, Keyboard Camp is a great opportunity for students of piano and keyboard of all ages and stages to come together and enjoy making music in a fun and social environment. As well as sectional rehearsals (with parts tailored to suit different playing abilities), and full orchestral playing, there are a variety of other workshops (on topics ranging from different styles of keyboard playing, to using technology in music and writing your own compositions), and opportunities to have fun learning and making music together – plus games, quizzes, ‘tuck shop’, and the inevitable talent show.

    Synthesis and technology workshop
    Synthesis And Technology Workshop · Kerry Marsden

    This year, we return to the How Hill Trust in Ludham, to enjoy a selection of brand new repertoire and old favourites (all especially arranged for keyboard ensemble) in this beautiful country setting.

    If you, your children, or your students are interested in Keyboard Camp, please contact Rory Marsden for more information, and to book your place on this amazing ten-year anniversary edition of the much-loved course – or download the application form here to ensure you don’t miss out.

    Composing and using technology
    Composing And Using Technology · Kerry Marsden
  • At La Scala with SEYO and Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolívar (photo by Jana Svobodová)
    At La Scala With SEYO And Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolívar · Jana Svobodová
  • Teaching On SEYO 2015 In Milan

    Teaching On SEYO 2015 In Milan

    Working with SEYO percussionists in rehearsal (photo by Jana Svobodová)
    Working With SEYO Percussionists In Rehearsal · Jana Svobodová
  • A video (and Spanish language interview!) of the Side-By-Side concert, featuring players from the Sistema Europe Youth Orchestra alongside El Sistema’s Sinfónica Juvenil de Caracas (and me) playing Ritmos Ciganos at Milan’s famous La Scala.

  • SEYO Photos

    SEYO Photos

    My photos (edited on the plane home!) from an absolutely amazing time in Milan working with with the Sistema Europe Youth Orchestra.

  • SEYO Day 3: Tutti Rehearsals

    SEYO Day 3: Tutti Rehearsals

    We’ve now been in Milan at the SEYO Summer Camp for three full days (and when I say ‘full’, I really do mean that – they have been three long, intense, full-on, exhausting days!), and it really is a fascinating experience.

    A few things have mainly struck me so far…  The standard of the students participating is very high – in the advanced orchestra, where I am working with the percussion section, we have been able to focus on little details, points of technique, performance advice, and other minutiae, almost right from the start.  The students are all excellent players already, and this makes for very interesting, dynamic sectional rehearsals with a lot of ideas being thrown around and a real rehearsal process being very much in evidence!

    The incredible passion and enthusiasm of all the teaching staff is also plain to see.  Given the number of different countries participating, and the fact that as a team of tutors, many of us had never met each other before and we have just been thrown together from different Sistema-inspired projects across all of Europe (each with their own, slightly different, customs and ways of doing things!), I think we have gelled pretty well.  From my point-of-view, I feel privileged to be working alongside a fantastic percussion tutor in sectionals, and under conductors in full rehearsals who really know what they want from a piece of music and have a vision for the performance.  I think this mix of nationalities and backgrounds is perfect for an experience like this, and means that we (the tutors) end up learning lots too.

    The full Sistema Europe Youth Orchestra playing together for the first time in Teatro degli Arcimboldi
    The full Sistema Europe Youth Orchestra playing together for the first time in Teatro degli Arcimboldi

    Finally, it is abundantly clear what an amazing opportunity this is for all the students who have come on the course!  The chance to learn from some top professionals from all over Europe, and to play big, exciting orchestral music, is enormous.  As is the chance to be inspired by the National Children’s Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela (part of the El Sistema programme, with some children as young as six), performing in the breath-taking setting of La Scala.

    Thanks to the hectic schedule here, this is the first time I’ve been able to post any updates – bar uploading a few iPhone pictures ‘on the fly’! – and I don’t know when I’ll be able to write anything properly about it again.  I shall try to post more details when I get an opportunity, though.  So after another very long day of rehearsals, and with another early start tomorrow morning…  Goodnight!

  • Behind the stage at Teatro degli Arcimboldi
    Behind The Stage At Teatro Degli Arcimboldi
    Massed wind, brass and percussion of the SEYO
    Massed Wind, Brass And Percussion Of The SEYO

    Day three, and we’re all rehearsing onstage in the Teatro degli Arcimboldi this morning, except the strings! They’ll join the rest of us later this afternoon for the first tutti rehearsals.

  • SEYO Day 1: Percussion Sectionals

    SEYO Day 1: Percussion Sectionals

    Sectional rehearsals in the auditorium
    Sectional Rehearsals In The Auditorium

    Intense first sectional rehearsal in Milan, working on Shostakovich’s Festive Overture (Op. 96).

  • Sistema Europe Summer School In Milan

    I am delighted to have been chosen to be one one of the tutors going to this year’s Sistema Europe Summer Camp, which is being held in Milan, Italy; a colleague from Sistema in Norwich and I will be going with a delegation from Sistema England, to work for eight days with students and other tutors from Sistema-inpired projects based across Europe.

    This is a very exciting opportunity for me to work with some fantastic music professionals and to learn from them – and to be more involved with the Sistema movement as a whole, to just here in Norwich but throughout Europe.

    Keep checking back here after 21st August for more updates on my time working with the Sistema Europe Youth Orchestra in Italy, and all the wonderful activities we get up to!

Kit Marsden // Musician