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Teacher Spotlight: Helen Carvolth

Teacher Spotlight: Helen Carvolth

Teachers, schools, universities and conservatoria from all over Australia trust our team with supplying the highest quality instruments, accessories, repairs and servicing for their string programs and students.

At Simply for Strings, we are dedicated to developing the next generation of string players - hand-in-hand with the country’s most amazing teachers. 

We want to put the spotlight on some of Australia’s amazing string educators. This week’s teacher spotlight is on Helen Carvolth!

Helen Carvolth graduated from The University of Qld’s School of Music with a Master of Music in Performance in 1999. She won the University String Prize in 1996, and in 1995-1996 was Principal of the University String Orchestra and has performed with the Queensland Philharmonic Orchestra, Queensland Symphony Orchestra, Qld Pops Orchestra, Qld Festival Philharmonic, Sinfonia of St Andrews, Northern Rivers Symphony, and the Australian Youth Orchestra. Helen has been Concertmaster of Ipswich City Orchestra since 2014.

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself!

A: I’m Helen Carvolth, and I teach upper strings at Ipswich Junior Grammar School and Ipswich Girls' Grammar.  This is also where I attended school many years ago.  I teach across age levels and standards, from beginners to associate level.  I have also taught beginner cello and double bass.

Q: Why music? How and why did you start teaching?

A: My first goal on leaving school was to become a history academic, believe it or not.  But I couldn't stop playing music and performing and it frustrated me not to be in the middle of a life in music, but on the edges. When I graduated from my music degree I worked professionally in orchestras, and taught a lot.  I burnt out after a few years because I give myself 100% to my teaching.  

Q: Tell us about your teaching journey!

A: Now I have a perfect balance between teaching and playing, and I believe my playing improves my teaching. I have been teaching now for 30 years, and my advice to aspiring educators would be to never stop loving music, however you can manage that.  It's easy to do when you are struggling to earn a living.

"My goal is to give students the gift of knowing that a life with music is a better life; beautiful, exciting, disciplined, social and inspiring." 

Q: What’s the most fun gig you’ve ever done?

A: So many fun gigs, it's hard to choose!  My string quartet, Ipswich City String Quartet, last year did a six concert tour of regional centres with a program called "Taking Flight" which was accompanied by projected images of the most amazing photos of birds and Australian landscapes by the photographer Gail Bryant.  It was so wonderful to see the audience's reactions to music and images together; and I loved playing with the quartet because we just click as a group.  

Q: What’s your favourite teaching method? 

A: My favourite methods to use are the Fiddle Time series, but there are many that I use. I've also got a fondness for the Sheila Nelson works for younger strings.  

"I'm trying to keep always learning and improving as a teacher."

Q: Do you have any upcoming concerts?

A: I have two string quartet concerts coming up - we are playing first at Ipswich Civic Centre on Sunday 30 May in a concert entitled "Sublime Strings on Sunday."  This includes high tea.  We will be playing Mozart's Quartet no .14, "Spring" K387, Schumann's Quartet no.1, a viola and cello duet by Rebecca Clarke called "Lullaby", and "Berceuse" by Australian Becky Llewellyn.  We are also playing this program on Saturday 12 June, at Indooroopilly Uniting Church.  

The team here at Simply for Strings always enjoys assisting Helen and her students when we have the pleasure of helping them in-store or online.

"I am confident when I send my students to Simply for Strings that they will return with a quality instrument.  It's nice to visit a business with a student, as I have done in the past, and have Kieran or Celine or one of the other knowledgeable staff spend time with you figuring out what chin rest or shoulder rest best suits them.  It's a personal service. I also appreciate being able to say to my students' parents "Look, call me when you're in the shop and put me on the phone to the sales staff, and I'll explain to them what your child needs!" It makes important choices that much easier.  They have a wide range of everything; sheet music, accessories, and it all gets mailed to me super quickly. And it's a beautiful place to visit."

Pictured: Ipswich City String Quartet.

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