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Deputy Director of Academic Studies

Professor Laura Ritchie

Trumpet Player

Enrolment for this online course is now open, and applications are invited from teachers of String instruments

The next cohort will begin in September 2021. All students are supported throughout the course by a subject specific mentor.

This course gives you the opportunity to take a look at your own teaching technique and specific strategies and techniques you use, in addition to standing back and developing a broader perspective on teaching and learning and music education in general. The course offers a well structured programme with mentors who are all highly experienced teachers, and a blend of face-to-face and online learning that results in a level 7 qualification from a well regarded higher education institution. Being a student on this course is all about developing as a reflective practitioner; someone who is willing to stand back and look at what they are doing, and contemplate changing aspects if they need to. The awarded PG Cert is a unique qualification for the teaching profession.

You will be assigned a mentor from the ESTA mentor panel. Your mentor’s job is to guide you through the course, lead study sessions and assess the work you submit. Your studies, be they online through webinars, one-to-one meetings with your mentor or course leader, discussion groups, reading, making a video, or reflecting on practice, will focus on every aspect of your teaching with particular relevance to the context in which you work. This work will help you to question things you may have taken for granted, explore work with and without notation and develop a holistic approach to your teaching.

Your course leader will provide an overview of the whole course, lead study sessions, and also make assessments of all students’ work to ensure fairness. In order to gain the maximum benefit from your investment in this programme of study you should plan your diary carefully to make sure you have all the deadlines for completion and submission of work highlighted.


The ESTA PG Cert is designed for teachers who want to enhance their approach to teaching through a programme of study that is both academic and practical.

Successful completion represents one third of a Master’s degree.

Participants will:

  • Develop practical skills in teaching musical and technical material, fostering an engaging and student-appropriate approach to music learning and performance

  • Foster an investigative and inquisitive approach to teaching by developing skills in both research and reflection

  • Actively develop communication skills to enable effective teaching

Develop skills in curriculum planning that are highly relevant in the profession.

Who Apply
Violin Players
Heads of Department – Strings

Sarah Crooks

Sarah is a widely experienced teacher of the violin and general musicianship, working with string players in a range of contexts. Her approach as a teacher is to guide rather than to prescribe learning, encouraging self-discovery through exploration.

At the RNCM she is Senior Tutor of Young Strings, a programme with an integrated approach which aims to engage the whole child in musical learning. The methods of Dalcroze and Kodály are central to the programme’s pedagogy. Pupils move, sing, play, improvise, collaborate, discuss and reflect. This holistic, creative approach to music education underpins Sarah’s teaching in all settings, inspired by her training as a Dalcroze Eurhythmics teacher.

Sarah also enjoys working with advanced musicians and teachers, helping them to develop their teaching, research and reflection skills. She leads CPD in many settings and works regularly with undergraduate and postgraduate students at the RNCM. She was delighted to be invited to join the Mentor panel on the ESTA PG Cert and relishes the opportunities to share practice with teachers from all over the world.

In other roles, Sarah is a mother of two young children, a Child Protection Officer at the RNCM and a student of the Alexander Technique. She hopes to train as an Alexander teacher in the near future, which will add new dimensions to her work with musicians.

Violin Players

Helen has been a Mentor for ESTA’s PGCert in String Teaching since its inception in 2017. She was Lead Teacher for Strings for West Sussex Music until 2019, when she embarked on her PhD research into string pedagogy at the University of Portsmouth.

Helen has a wealth of experience of teaching the violin and viola in individual, small- and large-group settings, including Whole-Class Ensemble Tuition (WCET). A qualified primary school teacher, she has also worked as a Music Coordinator, delivering classroom Music across Key Stages 1 and 2. Helen’s current research draws on each of these experiences but focuses in particular on pupils’ progression beyond whole-class instrumental learning, the current lack of qualitative data in this area, and related problems around policy enactment and Continuing Professional Development (CPD). Helen intends for her findings to equip music hubs (and equivalent organisations) to better support their teachers, thereby enhancing both the quality of teaching and opportunities for children.

Helen addresses similar aims in her own practice: in 2015 she established String Start, a group violin-with-musicianship programme for children aged 4–7, alongside which she developed and delivered a series of CPD programmes for instrumental teachers. Helen graduated from King’s College London with undergraduate (Music) and postgraduate (Historical Musicology) degrees, gained her PGCE qualification at the University of Chichester, and also attained her LRAM at London’s Royal Academy of Music

Heads of Department – Strings

Helen Dromey

String Course Mentors



Mentor (PGC) - strings



Mentor (PGC) - strings



Mentor (PGC) - strings



Mentor (PGC) - strings



Mentor (PGC) - strings



Mentor (PGC) - strings

 Unit 1: Teaching bowed string technique to children and young people learning bowed                   stringed instruments  

  1. Posture

  2. Position of, and with, the instrument

  3. Bow

  4. Musculature

  5. Making the sound

  6. Left hand-Right hand

  7. Vibrato

  8. Shifting

  9. Tension and how to avoid it

  10. Pizzicato

  11. Warm-ups

  12. Slurred and legato bowing

  13. String crossing and legato bowings

  14. String crossing and double stops

  15. Bowing: detache, portato; spiccato; martelle; sautille

  16. Harmonics

  17. Repairs

 Unit 2: How children and young people learn to play bowed stringed instruments  

  1. How learners learn

  2. Simultaneous Learning

  3. Learning spiral

  4. My learners now

  5. Understanding, assimilating and consolidating

  6. Skills, knowledge and understanding

  7. Learning music musically

  8. Developing aural awareness/perception and acuity

  9. Pupil/teacher relationships

  10. Learning scales and studies

  11. Starting a lesson

 Unit 3: Teaching strategies for  teachers of bowed stringed instruments working with                    children and young people  

  1. Understanding my teaching now

  2. Preparation for teaching

  3. Expectation of teaching outcomes

  4. Diagnosis of learners’ needs

  5. Audio-Visual-Kinaesthetic learning

  6. Aptitude for learning

  7. Motivation for learning

  8. Simultaneous learning (P Harris)

  9. Assessment

  10. Exams/Festivals/Competitions

  11. Tutors/methods

  12. Teaching whole classes/small groups/individuals

  13. Proactive and reactive teaching

 Unit 4: Developing a bowed strings teaching curriculum for children and young people 

  1. Understanding what is meant by a curriculum and a syllabus

  2. Preparing and implementing schemes of work

  3. Short/medium and long term planning

  4. Personalising learning

  5. Becoming a reflective practitioner

  6. Communicating as a musician

  7. Playing and performing

  8. Chamber music

  9. Special Needs

  10. Rolland – Suzuki – Colourstrings

  11. Alexander Technique


In Unit 1, students work towards presenting a short, live presentation focused on a specific aspect of playing technique and a video recording of the opening ten minutes of a first lesson, introducing a student to the instrument.

For Unit 2, students submit an abstract of their written work and receive comments from their mentor before their final 3,500 essay is submitted.

In preparation for the final assessment in Unit 3, students analyse the content of a lesson and provide a brief written discussion of their findings. This leads on to a case study of their own (recorded) teaching. Students reflect in writing and specifically consider the impact on learning, contextualising and supporting, with references to relevant teaching literature.

For Unit 4, students first critique the published schemes of work or tutor methods of others, before constructing their own one year curriculum appropriate to a specific category of learner which includes a scheme of work/short term plan and an example of a detailed lesson plan.

Grades, rather than percentages, are given for assessed work. Students receive detailed written, video, or verbal feedback for all assessed work.


The course is timetabled over a period of one calendar year with the next intake beginning in September 2021.

There are four units of study which must all be completed in chronological order and, in addition to online working, students are expected to attend specific study days as indicated in the timetable.

A further three additional units focus on: safeguarding children and young people in music education; equality, diversity and inclusion in music education, and promoting children and young people’s positive behaviour.

The course is delivered 100% online with the option (this is not compulsory) of a 4-day residential study held in August 2022 at the University of Chichester, UK*

*Travel costs from the student’s location to Chichester are not included in the course fee


  • £3,495.00 UK Residents

  • £4,495.00 Overseas Residents

  • £2,995.00 ESTA members (within Europe)
    £3,250.00 for members of the following UK organisations

  • ISM (UK residents only)

Fees include full board and accommodation at the ESTA Summer School*.

Bursaries are available to UK resident ESTA members.

*Travel costs from the student’s location to Chichester are not included in the course fee. The summer school is not a mandatory element of the course.

Course Layout


What you need

Students will need online access (at home) before, during and immediately following participation on the course. They will also need the facility to make simple audio and video recordings throughout the course (most smartphones and laptops will have this facility). These will be needed for:

  • Webinars: These will be prepared and delivered by the course leader, members of the mentor panel and invited guest presenters. Webinars will take the form of pre-recorded video presentations with accompanying audio-visual and reading material, each coupled with setting of follow-up work for students.

  • Videos of teaching: Students are required to submit up to 4 videos of themselves teaching. It is the student’s responsibility to obtain written permission from: the student they are teaching; the student they are teaching’s parent/carer or responsible adult, and the school or institution, where appropriate.

  • Follow-up work may include student discussion online (synchronous or asynchronous) or completion of questionnaires or submission of brief written statements.

Time commitment

Online classes take as much time as regular on-campus classes. You need to set aside sufficient time for study. Plan to spend at least as much time working on the assignments and studying as you would with a traditional course. We recommend that you need to set aside 12-15 hours for study per week in order to get the maximum benefit from the ESTA PG Cert course.


  • Students enrolled on the ESTA PG Certificate course are expected to attend and participate fully in all study sessions set out in the course documentation and Handbook.

  • We understand that musicians are often reluctant to turn down playing opportunities but it is unacceptable to use last minute playing engagements as an excuse to miss study sessions.

  • Please refer to the course website for details about computer literacy, levels of engagement and our student code of conduct. The course is delivered in the English language.

Entry requirements

  • Applicants must hold a degree (which does not have to be in musical studies) that was taught or researched in English and is equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree or above, or be able to demonstrate performance skills at licentiate diploma level (level 6) in music on the instrument they plan to study, alongside teaching experience.

  • Alternatively, they may hold an appropriate English language qualification that must be acceptable to the University of Chichester.

  • Applicants are expected to be proficient as musicians, demonstrating a performance level of a minimum standard equivalent to Grade 8 ABRSM or Trinity College London.

  • All applicants must have access to an online working environment. Skype will be used for mentor/student interaction on the course.

  • All applicants will be interviewed face-to-face in their own country or via Skype.

University of Chichester In-House Test. The University of Chichester also offers a FREE TESTING service to students applying to Chichester. The test is an IELTS equivalent, and is for students who are already in the UK or who are applying through one of our authorised agents in country.

More Info





The Music programme is one of the largest and liveliest in the UK, and focuses on music as an applied art, one that is engaged with the musical world in all its diversity and excitement.

This means that courses are focused on practical work, from performance, composition and improvisation to musical theatre performance, training in instrumental or vocal teaching, music business, music therapy and community music, as well as traditional music analysis and critical theory.

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