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About the Course and Our Tutors

During the course there will be two rehearsals each day with the full orchestra.

In between there will be sectional rehearsals with professional tutors who are specialists in the particular instruments. The tutors below were the tutors for the 2023 course but we are very much hoping that they will all be available again for the 2024 course:-

The Course Tutors
Course Director Joanna Welsh
Flutes and Full Orchestra Conductor Alastair Hume
Woodwind Sarah Abbott
Saxophone James Rawlinson
Strings Becky Welsh, Matthew Fairman
Brass Toby Carswell
Percussion David Waller


Joanna Welsh - Course Director

Joanna discovered the joy of teaching quite by chance after having spent her early 20s producing two musically gifted children, James and Becky. She planned to make a career in classical singing after taking an external performers diploma. Fate had other ideas and she has been lucky enough to have been teaching woodwind and singing in and around Dorset for the past 35 years.

Over the years she has helped to nurture the love of music in hundreds of adults and children alike. She formed her own flute band - 'Magicflutes' over 25 years ago, followed 7 years later by 'Windbreaks', the wind band. We have been running 'Musical Chairs Summer School' since 2010. Thanks to my dedicated team last years 'Musical Chairs Summer School' was a greater success than we dared to hope for and we look forward to an even better summer school this year.


James Rawlinson - Saxophone Tutor

James is began playing clarinet at the age of 9 under the guidance of Christchurch based woodwind legend Alan Melly. Very soon James was playing saxophone and flute and was fortunate enough to tour with various youth orchestras around the world. Destinations included
France, Germany, Denmark, Russia, Czechia and others.
After gaining a saxophone scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music he returned to Bournemouth to begin teaching and playing in various ensembles. James was one of the founding members of the Swing Unlimited group as well as starting his own JazzSmartworkshops. James teaches woodwind in his private studio in Bournemouth as well as at various prep schools in the Dorset and Hampshire area. Current projects include The Red Fez Orchestra (1920s Dance Band), The Forza Saxophone Quartet, The Boogie Bumpers (Jump Blues Band).
James has always aimed to inspire budding musicians young and old and has a list of pupils who have gained entry at music conservatoires such as The Guildhall School of Music, The Royal Academy, The Royal Northern School of Music, The Royal Welsh School of Music and others.


Woodwind Tutor

Sarah Abbott - Woodwind Tutor

Sarah Abbott is an established local instrumental coach, having nearly 30 years experience teaching clarinet, saxophone, flute and piano in schools and privately. She has played in various bands and ensembles since the age of 10 and performs regularly with Liquorice Clarinet Quartet, Westbourne Orchestral Society and Jazzmo (a jazz quartet) as well as playing in the pit for local theatre companies. She also runs her own training band, No Strings Attached, which rehearses weekly and performs as well as putting on their own concerts twice a year.


Alastair Hume - Flute Tutor and Full Orchestra Conductor

Chorister and Head choir boy Christchurch Priory 1968-1974. Conducted Gli Amici Della Musica Choir and Orchestra 1976-1982. Trained at Guildhall School of Music and Drama 1976-79, and Homerton College, Cambridge. Played in the 1980 Footlights, Cambridge. Peripatetic music teacher 1982-1986 in Flute, Clarinet and Saxophone at Hurstpierpoint College, Ardingly College, Great Ballard School, Littlehampton Community school and Edgeborough School. Head of music 1980-1982 at a) Slindon College, b) 1989-2001 King Alfred's, c) 2001-2014 St Michael's. Helped form the Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra in Gulf of Arabia, for Sultan Qaboos from 1986-88. M.D of Littlehampton Community Big Band 1981-1986 and Shaftesbury Swing Band 1990-2001. Played in the Taverner's Big Band 1989-2018. From 1990 to the current day has been Musical director and/or musician/pianist for Dramatic societies; ASDS, Theatre 2000, Milton Musical society, Phoenix Theatre Co, Swish of the Curtain, Big Little, Wimborne Musical Theatre Co, BOS, HCP, BBLOC. RMDS and Poole and Parkestone Productions. Currently is a freelance musician playing, directing, arranging/orchestrating and transcribing music for shows, singers, bands, orchestras and cruise ships. Adjudicated at Salisbury Music festival, Bournemouth Music Festival and New Milton Music Festival.


Lower Strings Tutor

Becky Welsh - String Tutor

Becky studied double bass at Trinity College of Music, then completed a Postgraduate Diploma at the Royal Academy of Music in 2006. Since leaving college Becky has built up a busy and varied freelance career in London. She works very regularly with many of the major orchestras including the London Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic, BBC Symphony and Philharmonia Orchestras.

Becky is lucky to have had the opportunity to tour extensively with these orchestras including North America, Europe, Japan and China. She has had the wonderful experience of touring with Sting and the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra in North America and Europe in performances of "Symphonicities". Becky also enjoys teaching and currently teaches at the Centre for Young Musicians in London.


David Waller - Percussion Tutor

David studied with Paul Brodie, of the BBC Radio Orchestra, and started his career as drummer and percussionist with "Musical Starlights", a three-month tour of city theatres throughout Germany, Austria, Denmark, and Italy. Shortly after, David joined "The Best of Musicals", another three-month tour of European city theatres. Soon after, he became a theatre and dance-band drummer onboard 'Celebrity' and 'Saga' cruises, playing seven nights a week, whilst seeing many parts of the world. David is now a freelance musician working with several top bands, including Five Star Swing, the Bournemouth Jazz Orchestra, Prohibition Jazz, and 'deps' with the Joe Loss Orchestra. He also plays in local theatre shows, projects, 'deps', and other bands throughout each year. In pantomime, he has worked at the Poole Lighthouse, the Harlequin Theatre in Redhill, and the past two years at the Crewe Lyceum Theatre, Cheshire, working with Gareth Gates (from ITV's Pop Idol), and the comedy-duo legends Cannon and Ball. David teaches drums and percussion at Talbot Heath School, Parkstone Grammar, Durlston Court, and Castle Court, and is delighted to be back at MCSS as a tutor for another year.


Course Administator

Norman Cox - Course Administrator

Norman hails originally from Yorkshire (though his mother was Norwegian) and took up the flute aged 12, having previously from the age of 7 had piano lessons. After taking a degree at Leeds in Agriculture he worked for the then Ministry of Agriculture all his life in the Advisory Service for farmers, holding posts in various parts of the country, culminating as manager for the southern area based at Winchester. Because of the pressures of work his flute playing had to take a back seat. On his retirement 24 years ago he was active in the community in the village where he lived outside Winchester being on the Parish Council and Chairman for a time, editing the Parish Paper, Treasurer of the local Village Show and Gardening Club, and helping his wife run the Meals on Wheels service in the locality. After the death of his wife some 7 years ago, he moved to Bournemouth to be near his family, and decided to take up the flute again, taking lessons with Jo Welsh. Apart from the flute, his main hobbies are walking and swimming, and helping Jo work her allotment! He has also recently taken up the piano again, and does the administration for his son-in-law’s photographic repair business.


Brass Tutor

Toby Carswell - Brass Tutor

Toby Carswell is a London based musician. His wide skill set includes composing, arranging, piano + lower brass playing and conducting. A recent graduate of Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, Toby has written for solo musicians as well as a wide variety of ensembles, whilst regularly performing in venues across London.


String Tutor

Matthew Fairman - Upper Strings Tutor

Matthew Fairman studied Violin and Piano at the Royal Academy of Music in London on an Open Scholarship. From 1990-98 his full time job was sub-Principal first violin with the Bournemouth Sinfonietta. Since 1998 he has been working as a free-lance player and teacher. He has played in many of the finest UK orchestras including the Philharmonia, English Chamber Orchestra and as guest co-leader of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic. More recently he has been working as part of a duo and trio with the Russian composer/pianist Tamara Konstantin and cellist Michael Wigram. They recently gave a recital featuring works by Tamara at the Reform Club in London. Matthew has always had a keen interest in playing the piano. From 2013-15 he was the official accompanist for La Nova Singers. Although trained as a classical musician he loves jazz and this has led him to explore the language of improvised music. He has played jazz gigs on piano with the pianist and bass player Nick Weldon and the saxophonist Sarah Bolter.


There will be more details of our tutors on this page soon, so be sure to bookmark it and check back.