SweetWater Connects Students to Renowned Violinist through String Workshops

March 9, 2018

The SweetWater Music Festival recently coordinated three string workshops with violinist Edwin Huizinga as part of our Access Music initiative.


Huizinga did two sessions with Grades 6 to 8 students at Alexandra Community School in Owen Sound. Later that same day, he did a session with players from the newly-formed Owen Sound Youth Orchestra at East Ridge Community School.


“This kind of intensive outreach with teachers and the youth orchestra is really important, and obviously valued by students and staff,” noted SweetWater Board Chair Colleen Purdon. “I’m glad we were able to do this, and I don’t think we could have found a better person to launch it than Edwin.”


The two afternoon sessions gave students studying string instruments a chance to learn from a violinist who has played around the world, including numerous performance at past SweetWater Music Festival concerts. They also had a chance to watch Edwin in performance.


“Edwin does bridge the gap between classical - traditional folk - indie music - jazz and lots of genres in a seamless way - putting them all under a big, inclusive heading that obviously delights and inspires him,” adds Colleen.


Alexandra music teacher Heather Thompson appreciated having Edwin into her classes.


 “I know the students will be talking about him for some time. Having someone of that caliber come into the classroom inspires students to reach for the stars and see what can be possible with hard work and dedication.”


The evening session saw Edwin work with the string section of the Owen Sound Youth Orchestra providing them with some great tips as they hone their skills.


“Thank you SweetWater for providing the opportunity for the Owen Sound Youth Orchestra to work with Edwin,” said East Ridge music teacher and Youth Orchestra coordinator Deanne Hallman. “The experience was truly enriching. Edwin’s talent and gentle nature expanded our musical possibilities to play as an ensemble. The young players were genuinely touched by his expansive joy for playing a wide range of music,” said Deanne Hallman, music teacher and Youth Orchestra Coordinator.


In a front page story in the Owen Sound Sun Times, Edwin talked about why it’s important to expose these young string players to this sort of instruction.


“First of all it’s hard. You don’t really understand that until you’re terrible at it, which we all are early on,” he said. “Whether they become big Beatles fans and realize they’re lots of strings, or end up loving musicals, there is a little bit of everything in this.”


Over the coming months, SweetWater has plans for future Access Music sessions in area schools and elsewhere in the community.