The Sheila Nelson Stringwise Fund

Sheila Nelson

The purpose of the Sheila Nelson Stringwise Fund is to promote and disseminate the art of teaching as practised by Sheila Nelson through the creation of an archive of her work which will support string teachers.

Bursaries may also be awarded to members of ESTA(UK) teaching in the UK wishing to further their knowledge of the methodologies of Sheila Nelson and Paul Rolland and those with a special interest in group teaching.

If you are interested in supporting the creation of an archive of Sheila’s work for the benefit of string teachers please click here to find out more, and also how you can donate to the project.

What inspired the Sheila Nelson Stringwise Fund?

Sheila Nelson workshop in Hendon
Sheila working with children in a workshop

The Sheila Nelson Stringwise Fund was originally endowed as the Stringwise Charitable Trust. In 2016 the Trustees of the Stringwise Charitable Trust decided it was time to look to the long-term future of the charity to ensure that the work of Sheila Nelson and the training of string teachers continued to be supported in perpetuity.

Given the close relationship between Sheila Nelson and ESTA it was not difficult to envisage entrusting the Stringwise Charitable Trust to ESTA(UK) as one of ESTA(UK)’s bursary funds. Typically modest, Sheila would not hear of her name being used when Stringwise was founded but the trustees of the Stringwise Charitable Trust and the trustees of ESTA(UK) wanted to recognise and celebrate Sheila’s inspirational and tireless work with both teachers and children and so the Sheila Nelson Stringwise Fund came into being.

How did the Stringwise Charitable Trust come into existence?

Sheila in 2012 with pupils working out a tune from her book Spin-a-Tune, published by Boosey & Hawkes.
Sheila in 2012 with pupils working out a tune from her book Spin-a-Tune, published by Boosey & Hawkes.

Stringwise was founded in 1992 after the Inner London Education Authority (ILEA) was abolished and the ‘Tower Hamlets String Teaching Project’ ceased to exist. This Project pioneered group teaching in strings and other instruments in Primary Schools in the 1970s and 1980s and had a significant Teacher Training component built into its structure. The team of teachers was led by Sheila Nelson who pioneered the team-teaching approach to group teaching after working alongside Paul Rolland in the USA. The aim of Stringwise was to continue sharing the considerable expertise gained by the Tower Hamlets Project teachers in group teaching methods.

Stringwise was made up of a company, Stringwise Ltd, running holiday courses for children and professional development courses for teachers plus the Stringwise Charitable Trust which provided bursaries to attend the courses. When it was set up, the Stringwise Charitable Trust benefitted from a large donation from the Driver family in memory of Christopher Driver. Subsequently it benefitted from other donations and an annual gift of the profits from Stringwise Ltd.

Sheila in the late 1970’s acting the ‘Bad Violinist’ in an East End Primary School
Sheila in the late 1970’s acting the ‘Bad Violinist’ in an East End Primary School

The company, Stringwise Ltd continues to organise children’s holiday courses in North London. In line with the philosophies developed by Sheila Nelson and the Tower Hamlets Project, these courses for children aged 4 to 14 are without audition, emphasise the development of musicianship skills with and without the instrument, build chamber music skills from the start and promote team teaching. Every course ends with a piece for a large multi-level orchestra with every child on the course playing. The profits from Stringwise Ltd originally went to the Stringwise Charitable Trust and are now donated to the Sheila Nelson Stringwise Fund.

From 1992 until 2010 Stringwise Ltd organised Teacher Training Courses based on the principles of Freedom of Movement in Playing. Sheila Nelson was always the lead teacher on these courses, supported by the team of Stringwise teachers. These courses were attended by teachers from the world over while members of the Stringwise team also travelled widely delivering workshops and courses based around Sheila Nelson’s inspirational work.

If you would like to support the Sheila Nelson Stringwise Fund in the creation of an archive of Sheila’s work and to help us to award much needed bursaries, you can make a donation using the form below.