The British violinist speaks to Peter Somerford about launching her mass education project for string players of all ages 


Nicola Benedetti © Andy Gotts

The following is an extract from The Strad’s September 2020 issue in which British violinist Nicola Benedetti speaks about launching her Benedetti Sessions for string players of all standards and ages in the time of Covid-19. To read in full, click here to subscribe and login. The September 2020 digital magazine and print edition are on sale now.

Reflecting on launching her Virtual Sessions, Benedetti says: ‘The most shocking thing was just how close you can feel to people when you’re not seeing any of them physically in front of you. Certainly it’s possible to do a lot more through a screen than I ever imagined, although there are many ways in which we can improve our video materials in the future. I think we’ve demonstrated, albeit in a very condensed and rushed form, the endless potential of online learning and content, but it will never replace getting together physically.’

While the commitment to mass live events remains as strong as ever, online is the only option for now. In June the foundation began offering interactive After School Sessions, and in July and August it ran its first Mini Virtual Sessions, a series of short, focused online workshops concentrating on various aspects of technique, physicality and well-being.

Read: The fear of making mistakes stops violinists from playing with resonance and character – Nicola Benedetti
Watch: Virtual Benedetti Sessions: Grand Finale

Along with teaching across these new workshops, Benedetti has found her attention inexorably drawn to the seriousness of classical music’s plight amid the Covid-19 pandemic. ‘We cannot just be fighting for the survival of this period and then a return to life as it was before,’ she urges. ‘Instead we need to retrain our focus and look for opportunities to change and grow, addressing the things many of us have been bemoaning as part of the stagnation in classical music.’ She says she doesn’t know the answers, but if a more holistic approach to music education is part of the route forwards, she is already leading the way.