In addition to their extensive performing c.v., the members of the London Klezmer Quartet have much experience of teaching klezmer and Yiddish dance to instrumentalists and non-musicians/dancers of various levels and backgrounds. Whilst their klezmer workshops and lessons focus on repertoire and include attention to melody, accompaniment, and appropriate ornamentation, the band will often introduce elements of dance to a lesson for musicians – ensuring that participants understand how the vast majority of the repertoire works in real life. They will also incorporate oral/aural ways of learning to increase the speed with which people are able to play in what is generally regarded as the traditional style. Historical context and colourful stories about musicians of the past and present will be part of any session, as the LKQ draw their students into the wonderful world of klezmer. Working with live music, LKQ's dance workshops focus on steps and style of traditional Yiddish dances, as well as other dance repertoire from Eastern Europe associated with Jewish communities.
The musicians of the LKQ have a close association with the Jewish Music Institute (JMI - www.jmi.org.uk), a UK-wide institution which supports the performance and teaching of klezmer and other Jewish musical genres: the band’s members are regulars on the faculty of the JMI’s annual KlezFest, and are part of the teaching and performance team for the Institute’s Klezmer Caravan initiative, which is bringing klezmer to communities around the UK.
The members of the LKQ also have a continuing association with the University of London’s specialist School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), and have taught or are currently teaching at intra- and extra-mural courses within SOAS and the Junior Department of the Royal College of Music. Other recent projects include development work with Aldeburgh Young Musicians.
In a typical 3-hour workshop session with a multi-level group of mixed instruments (up to 20 people aged 8+, with minimum ABRSM Grade 3), the minimum the LKQ expects to achieve is having the group learn a klezmer tune by ear; that the musicians understand how to accompany the melody they have learned in a traditional way; and for the session’s participants to be aware of any rhythmic ‘groove’, song or dance steps associated with the tune. The ability and expectations of participants are gauged on the day to ensure that the class goes at a pace all participants are comfortable with, and that everyone learns something.
The LKQ’s members also produce resources for students to help their understanding of klezmer. These range from downloadable lists of useful source recordings to pdfs of transcriptions of tunes not available elsewhere. Ilana Cravitz’s book, Klezmer Fiddle – A How-to Guide (published by Oxford University Press), is the most comprehensive handbook available internationally for students of traditional klezmer style, and is widely consulted for teaching and performance tips by amateur and professional players of various instruments.
Below is a summary of the variety of didactic contexts in which the LKQ has engaged musicians to bring them an understanding of traditional klezmer music. Other individual musical specialisms – reflected in the band’s repertoire to some extent and brought into their teaching as necessary – include Balkan and Gypsy repertoire and style, and Celtic & English folk music.
The London Klezmer Quartet:
The LKQ is also proud to have been selected to perform on behalf of Music in Hospitals (MiH), a UK-wide scheme. The group is regularly asked by MiH to bring interactive concerts to a range of audiences not only hospitals’ general, post-operative, in-patient and locked wards, but also in care homes and drop-in centres for older people; respite centres and hospices for children; and residential centres for those with special needs.