Lucie Bernard: AV Sophomore leads workshops for middle school musicians

Mandy Wong, Page Editor

Lucie Bernard has been playing the violin since fifth grade. Last December, she was accepted into CODA (California Orchestra Directors Association’s Honors String Orchestra) at UC Santa Cruz.

Sophomore violinist Lucie Bernard leads virtual workshops for young string students. The free, one-hour sessions are part of a program Bernard created called Bow Buddies.

“Bow Buddies is a free, peer-based workshop series and blog aimed at students grades 5-8. The goal of the workshops and blog are to build a community of string musicians of all abilities and nurture their skill building and confidence while making friends,” said Lucie Bernard (‘23). 

In workshops, participants take turns playing a piece while the others listen. The player gains experience with performing in front of an audience, which makes them more comfortable in future auditions and concerts. Those listening benefit as well.

“Instead of being in a competitive environment, they can take this chance to learn from each other,” said Bernard.

The relaxed workshops offer unique opportunities to young musicians. Compared to in music classes or lessons, they have more creative freedom.

“I liked that Bow Buddies had low pressure…we could all play what we wanted,“ said Bow Buddies member Yun Soh.

Bow buddies has brought violinists, cellists, and violists from different areas together and forged meaningful connections.

“My favorite part of Bow Buddies is introducing other kids who might not have met each other from other schools. They all have something in common: that they’re all learning to be their best at their instrument and can support each other through this program,” said Bernard.

Starting Bow Buddies has opened new doors for Bernard, too. 

“Leading Bow Buddies has helped me to learn a lot about marketing and presenting my ideas to an audience,” said Bernard. “This has helped me develop my leadership skills, and maybe if the pandemic hadn’t happened, I might not have pushed myself in this area.”

Bernard, who began playing the violin in fifth grade, currently plays in Amador’s orchestra, which has also been meeting virtually.

“I’ve always loved orchestra, and Amador’s orchestra has been no exception. Even though it’s online this year, I still have a good time at our practices,“ said Bernard.

Mandy Wong

Like most other high school musicians, Bernard juggles her rigorous course load while also working on perfecting her instrument.

“It’s a real challenge this year because I’m taking harder classes,” said Bernard. “I’m doing longer practice sessions on the weekend and I always try to practice in the evening on the weekdays, even if it’s a shorter time.”

Still, Bow Buddies is going strong. Post COVID-19, Bernard hopes her Bow Buddies can meet in person.

“I would love to gather safely outdoors if conditions allow,” said Bernard. “But, for now, I’m focused on building up the Bow Buddies community online.” 

Part of this focus includes filling her blog with helpful bits of advice for her Bow Buddies. Currently, she is looking for strings players and teachers to interview. Contact her on Bow Buddies’ website if interested.

The next workshop is set for September 27th. Visit her website to register.