EDGAR WILLEMS MUSIC CENTRE (GCEW, institute) is a private music school with its own publicly validated education program, which is based on the pedagogical principles of Edgar Willems. The mission of the school is finding the paths to reach the goal of enabling all children the total and quality musical education, since music is one of the most beautiful and richest heritages of mankind. Our viewpoint is that every child has the right to musical education, regardless of his innate skills or his social standing. Good musical education contributes greatly to genereal child development and the ear for music can be greatly improved with appropriate pedagogical tools. Developed musical skills and assimilation of basic musical knowledge are the foundations of building the total musical education of learning to play the instrument. We are aware of our responsibility and with our educational work, we want to enable every pupil to find his own path to the world of music and sound together with us and perceive it as one of the most direct possibilities for communication, which are available to him. The beauty of the music art can not be replaced by anything else.
EDGAR WILLEMS (1890-1978), famous music pedagogue, Belgian by birth, founded his education concept on paralells which exist between the human being and music. He derived from the fact that the sense of music is potentially present in every man and that it is possible to awake and develop it from early childhood on with the appropriate education. In all areas of his pedagogical activities, he used only musical means in a very natural way. He strived for versatile active musical education, which importantly contributes to the balanced physical, emotional, perceptive and social development and to the wider and total personal growth. He also philosophically, psychologically and pedagogically argumented his concept.
Willems International Federation of Musical Education
Our school acts under the patronage of the Willems International Federation of Musical Education, which has an extremely rich 40 years old history in the European culture in both musical and pedagogical field. In 1968, the association was founded in Lyon by Edgar Willems together with his co-worker Jacques Chapuis. The association deals with spreading the effective didactical concept, education and teacher qualifications and with publishing Willems’ professional works.
Status of our school in Slovenia and in the international area
Our education is based on our own two educational programs – the Edgar Willems Musical Introduction program and the Egdar Willems Musical Education program. Both programs have received public validation by the resolution of the Council of Experts of the Republic Of Slovenia on 18th November 2004.
The institute GCEW is registered in the registration of performers of validated educational programs. This means that the certificate that we issue is equivalent to certificates of public music schools.
In August 2005, we also gained the certificate of the Willems International Association of Musical Education, which acknowledges our school as the Willems School of Musical Education and Qualification.
The founder and headmistress of GCEW Institute is Mateja Tomac Calligaris, which came across Willems’ methodological system abroad and adjusted it to the Slovenian cultural area after coming back to her homeland. She started the work of the institute in 1995. In time, she was joined by teachers of instrumental lessons, academic musicians who upgraded their knowledge by educating in the qualification programs for Willems’ teachers. Slovenian philharmonics and other successful musicians, who appreciate the values of Willems’ approach, teach at the school regularly. We also cooperate with excellent external co-workers, academic professors, which in different ways contribute to the school’s quality.
THE BASIC ACTIVITY OF OUR SCHOOL is musical education and education of children in pre-school and school years. We accept children mostly aged 4 to 7 and offer them the program of musical introduction.
Musical introduction – until the age of 7
This program has three stages and is meant especially for musical impregnation and intense development of musical skills. Lessons include the following basic activities: educating the hearing perception, rhythmical education, singing and natural physical movement in connection with music. We are attentive that children actively and creatively participate and create a positive relation to sound and music.
The lessons are carried out in homogeneous age groups.
Musical education – after the age of seven
In this program we usually register children who have finished the program of musical introduction.
It involves two subjects:
Lessons of music and solfeggio, which focuses on the total musical education and involves sound recognition of the elements of musical language, reproduction, invention, improvisation, singing, learning about musical literature, playing on little instruments, musical theory and solfeggio. The subject is performed for eight years, the lower level encompasses the first six years and the upper two years of education.
If he wants, the child can decide to learn the following instruments in our school: piano, violin, viola, violoncello, block flute, flute, clarinet, horn, saxophone and bassoon.
Our school puts a lot of energy into connecting all activities which are performed at the school and emphasizes the importance of individual approach and good mutual understanding between teachers, students and parents. We organize two annual concerts – the Christmas concert in Cankarjev dom and the final concert in the Slovenian Philharmonic.
Besides the elementary activity we also conduct a number of additional activities, with which we enrich the school life.
Students of the school successfully take part in state and international music competitions. More than competitiveness, our school emphasises the search for the beauty in music, the joy of learning new knowledge, self-discipline, responsibility, companionship, successful communication and similar values that the modern society too often overlooks. Despite this, we are aware how important it is for the young musician to participate in competitions in order to prepare for challenges, which most definitely wait for him in his future professional life.
Summer musical workshops
Every year we organize summer music workshops for students of elementary music schools, mostly in Piran or in Bled.
The support of versatile musical activities of our protégés
The school supports and enables with adapting lessons the musical activities of students outside school frames. We are aware of the importance of the connection of the school and the life environment, since new horizons open to students as well as teachers in this way.
Hence, for several years, many of our students sing in a children’s choir in the opera Carmen, a production of Slovene National Theatre Opera and Ballet Ljubljana and thus opened the doors to a wonderful artistic experience for themselves.
Education for music teachers
Our activity also involves preparation and seminar organization for music teachers. The most important of them is the qualification program for Willems’ teachers, which is run at our school in cooperation with Willems Slovene Association and under the patronage of the Willems International Federation.
We regularly cooperate with The Academy of Music and students of musical pedagogies regularly attend our lectures.
- From the letter by Mrs. Željka Ulčnik Remic, who is responsible for preparing the children’s choir in the opera Carmen, to Mateja Tomac Calligaris:
”… I write to you after a long time but with great gratitude, because you sent me ”like an angel” such wonderful little singers for the opera Carmen! They are 100 % reliable, intone pure, musical … in short, I am extremely pleased with them and hope that the conductor who is going to start to work with them from 10th January onward, is going to be, too…”
- From the expert opinion by Darinka Bole, lecturer of musical education at Pedagogical Faculty in Ljubljana:
”… From all that was mentioned, I can make an assumption that, in the proposed programs of basic musical education by the methodological concept of Edgar Willems, what is the case is the integral concept of musical education which is performed firstly by playing games and throughout with carefully planned contents and activities, systematically performed in the sense of horizontal connection and vertical upgrading. All this enables the child the optimal musical and personality development. With this, I give my positive opinion to the suggested programs.”
- From the recommendation of Tibor Kerekeš, senior trumpet university teacher at the Academy of Music and the member of the Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra:
” … I have personally encountered the work of Mateja Tomac Calligaris when I enlisted my son Albert in the beginning course of musical education with the mentioned method. As a musician and pedagogue, I positively evaluate the method and program, which is performed at these courses. The method is adjusted to pre-school children and offers them an active introduction into the world of sound and music. The program is versatile and encompasses all the most important musical areas (rhythmic, singing, playing instruments, getting used to listening, motor skills, etc.)”
- From the recommendation of Marko Vatovec, senior university teacher of choir conducting at the Academy of Music in Ljubljana:
”… The most precious thing about it is that learning stems from the direct child’s experience of a tone or different tones and relationships between them. Many times, these beginning steps are quite unpleasant for the child, because they are too theoretical or they are founded merely on constant repetition of the same material, therefore, learning by the method of Edgar Willems means an important freshness for the Slovenian musical pedagogies.”