La Maestra Academy : Holly Hyun Choe’s master-class at Aimé Césaire College

The conducting workshop with Holly is part of a more global project, “L’Art pour grandir”, financed by the City of Paris, which sets up an artistic residency between the Philharmonie de Paris and the Aimé Césaire secondary school.

There are 10 instrumental practice workshops, plus 5 theatrical practice workshops that will take place throughout the year, with the final objective of a performance in which the pupils will play with the orchestra Les Siècles, on 2 June, in the large Pierre Boulez hall of the Philharmonie.

She says that, on its own, the baton does not make any noise. It needs the help of the musicians. So what is her job? To make the instruments talk. Very good! You heard me right.

I’ve been teaching since high school. After graduating, I taught several years in summer camps. I have always loved teaching and sharing my passion with young people. It’s important for the future of classical music that young students are exposed to this music so that they can come back to it later on.

Projects of this magnitude allow students with academic difficulties, since they are students in 5th grade, who are in great difficulty, to restore their self-esteem and to become involved in a long-term project.

The musical workshops that the Philharmonie offers them are a great gift. We are lucky to have this project. Other classes don’t have it.

This project is fully integrated into the artistic and cultural education programme. It allows the pupils to go to cultural venues. Working with the Philharmonic is wonderful. They are passionate about sharing music with young people. It’s amazing how many concerts, projects and workshops they offer each season.

The workshops took place in a permanent exchange between Holly and the students. It was very rich, and the students came out of the workshop with more knowledge than they had at the beginning.
knowledge than when they started. Sometimes we talked a lot, to give them information, with musical extracts and gestures to demonstrate things, but always involving them.

We asked them to come and conduct our little orchestra, we made them play with their bodies, with percussion and mime. We also worked on listening skills and mixed exercises to vary the rhythms, alternating between calm and dynamic moments for 2 hours.
or dynamic moments for 2 hours. Little by little, they came out of their shell, and that was great.

She really emphasised tempo, articulation, knowing whether to play loud or soft, integrating precise vocabulary, but without drowning the students. It was very interesting.

Among the activities, my favourite was conducting. To make it clear to them, you can move your left hand, if it’s joyful, dynamic. Use your left hand.

Sometimes, as a young conductor, and also as a woman, you feel certain prejudices, you feel stuck at a certain level of study, you feel that you won’t be able to get into the very big orchestras. I hope that I will always be able to combine the two, to become a conductor who will lead great international orchestras, while keeping this link with teaching, because it is very important for me.

It’s very good that she is a conductor. She has courage, because
most of them are men. It’s very interesting, because
it teaches us new things. You learn a lot.

You raise your hand if you guess what she is wearing. A handkerchief!

If, during these 2 hours, I see their eyes change, if I see that they are more attentive, that their eyes sparkle, and that they leave us with a smile, that they talk about what they did to their friends… It really warms our hearts, it’s our reward.

What I really liked was that she came for us. I feel that the students are proud to participate in this project. They really want to see it through to the end.

Report at the Aimé Césaire College in Paris during the Holly Hyun Choe‘s master class, an American-Korean conductor at the La Maestra Academy.

This conducting workshop is part of a more global project, “L’Art pour grandir“, financed by the City of Paris, which sets up an artistic residency between the Philharmonie de Paris and the Aimé Césaire College. Ten instrumental practice workshops and five theatrical practice workshops will take place throughout the year. The final objective is a performance with the orchestra Les Siècles, conducted by the students, who are now young apprentice conductors, on 2 June in the Philharmonie’s Pierre Boulez Hall.