Axolile at the Raffaele Trevisani Summer Flute Course, Italy

Before Italy:

The week before I had to leave was very stressful, as it is for anyone doing something similar. Traveling on your own is very exciting but at the same time also very scary. One realises how things could easily go wrong due to the fact that one is basically left alone to arrange all these things.

I experienced some problems with late flight bookings and also arranging my visa appointments, which obviously made things a lot less simpler than what I would have expected.

I have been to Europe before with the University Choir and luckily that time everything was arranged for us. This time it was quite different. I had to deal with everyone and everything on my own. From arranging flights, accommodation and transport for getting myself to the summer school and back to the airport. Fortunately I was somehow prepared for all of this.

So I had booked my flights and it was time for my visa appointment. The embassy can be quite difficult when it comes to forms and documents that are either incorrect or missing. I tried getting as much as I could from my host and provided as much as I could with regards to documents and letters that were requested by the embassy and in this way it gave me more security that whatever would happen at my appointment I was already prepared for it.

That saved me a lot of time because indeed when I was there, they requested a document which initially I thought was not of any importance but since I had brought it along, all went smoothly. My other fear was for not getting my visa and passport back in time since my flight was the following Tuesday, fortunately they did not take too long and I could collect my visa two days after my interview.

If there is one thing I am very happy about, was the fact that I started doing online courses in Italian. Acquiring a language or even the basics of the language of the country you intend to visit, is of high importance. Once I had arrived in Italy I had to look for a shuttle which was booked for me by the hotel where I was to stay in.

Communication was quite a problem since many of the Italians did not really want to speak any English or German for that matter. Luckily I was equipped with some of the basics in this foreign language and this literally meant the difference of missing a bus to my destination, had I not asked someone in Italian (they nodded to me clearly that they do not speak any other language).

I personally think it helps to be extra prepared and not always expect that help will come as if sent from some special realm. One never knows what the people at the embassy might want more and also the people in a different country might not always be as helpful as we expect them to, unless we step in to their world, culture and their language.

In Italy:

Once I have arrived in my hotel room I could not help but notice the beautiful surroundings and the vast Lake Maggiore surrounding me in the small hill of Premeno. The first night I was in shock in the way they bombarded me with food. A three-course dinner!

The following morning I was to meet with the Grand Maestro Raffaelle Trevisani and his lovely wife Maestra Paola Girardi. These are the organisers of the summer school and the festival.

It was initially such a surreal experience and I could literally not believe my own eyes. He spoke to me with such great admiration and asked me about my teachers and what I was to perform for the duration of the course. A couple of us that were the early birds helped with setting up the timetable for the week and immediately after that we started performing.

I was second on the list, which gave me little time to prepare, but I guess I was already prepared from the previous weeks coming. I did not even get to the end of the phrase and he had already stopped me. I have never in my life experienced someone who could decipher my playing in such a beautiful manner.



All aspects of my flute playing were broken down and in such a way laid in front of me to realise the technical problems I have in my playing. By doing so I could perfectly understand what I was doing and why I did it.

This course was for me a new way of rebuilding myself with more understanding of what it is exactly I was doing. Everyday started with a technique class, in which most of my questions were answered, followed by the masterclasses consisting of students of all levels and ages from all over this world.

What I experienced to be a beauty in this class was the fact that Maestro Trevisani could work with each student as an individual. His teachings to each were never based on the previous student but rather on the personal needs and flaws of the current student.

Even though he might have taken down a lot of one’s playing, it was never meant to be demotivating or insulting in any manner, it was all meant to build the student up and to give them a better understand of the mechanics of the instrument and to justify his manner of teaching, his school.

We explored the small town on a daily basis and with the very hot summer of Italy the weather just allowed all sorts of fun activities which also meant more time to get to know everyone on course. I never got the feeling that I was not home or that I was at a place where I was supposed to prove myself and my playing in any way rather than everyone helping each other and always congratulating the performers of the day. I really felt a great sportsmanship during this course, which in my own music department lacks most of the time.

After Italy:

The last day always gets to be the saddest one as everyone says their goodbyes and return to their respective countries, so I had to return to beautiful South Africa. First my flight was delayed at Malpensa airport due to heavy storms that approached us. After that it was a safe journey back home.

After the course I had a lot of time to think and to try and make sense of every little detail I was bombarded with during the duration of the course. I returned, so to say, a new-born flutist. My entire technique had changed and I literally felt like a baby; I couldn’t play the same way or same music anymore, I realised how much of a gap there was in my playing and how it influenced everything I did. I wished I had met Trevisani at an earlier stage of my playing or that I was more in contact with him on a regular basis.

I am currently looking for a place to do a post grad qualification at and I cannot help but feel that the only place or the only teacher I would now want to go to is Maestro Trevisani. With his knowledge I feel I would be able to reach my full potential and fix most of my technical problems which some of them are still not fixed after returning back to Stellenbosch.


However, I do feel that I can be very grateful for the time I have spent here and all the lessons I have received during my studies. All of this would certainly not be possible if it was not for my amazing professor who introduced me to this style of playing and opened my eyes to what can be achieved and what other possibilities lie outside this place.

Our music industry in South Africa is often looked down upon, but what I actually experienced is that we have some of the most talented musicians out there and all they need is a helping hand and a little exposure to what lies outside these boundaries we have.

We have indeed some of the greatest teachers to be thankful for, for all they have made some of us to be and for bringing us to an international level and standard of playing. I am definitely looking forward to going back and learn more or rather as much as I can.