Nothing predisposed Ombeline to come to St Barths. Originally from Auvergne, France, Ombeline was solidly anchored in her busy life as a musician, between classes in the city of Tours, 3 to 4 concerts a week with her Irish music group, the Symphony Orchestra in Orleans and that of Loir-et-Cher, tours in France with Ez3kiel, album recordings, travelling and her friends.
One encounter and everything changed … although it took a year and a half to make it happen.
In July 2012, Ombeline met Abigaelle Leese, St Barth Harmony president, vacationing in Touraine. Abigaelle was looking for a violin teacher using the Suzuki method for her children. The first contact was excellent and Abigaelle invited Ombeline to host a week-long violin workshop in St Barths in April 2013. Ombeline knew nothing about St Barths but accepted the offer and really enjoyed the wonderful welcome, the sweetness and beauty of the island and everyone’s kindness to her. The St Barth Harmony association, with the aim of reconstructing itself, was looking for a violin teacher to assist then replace Rudy Laplace. Ombeline then came back 5 times between 2013 and 2014 for new training sessions, before finally settling on the island in September 2014.
She took the plunge, on the one hand because her musical projects in Metropolitan France had come to an end (end of touring, end of recording) and on the other hand in particular because of her decisive encounter with Shirley Dern, a pianist she formed a very beautiful friendship with and who was working on promising musical projects, including the idea of restructuring St Barth Harmony’s musical school. Everything seemed to work out perfectly and Ombeline decided to come and stay in St Barths for 1 year. Five years later, she is still here and is developing musical projects with diligence, talent and determination.
Influenced by her grandfather’s passion for the violin, Ombeline was initiated at the age of 3 by her aunt who taught her how to play this instrument using the Suzuki method.
This method is based on the principle of learning a mother tongue. One can learn how to play the violin through replicating, listening and mimicry, just like children who learn to speak before they can read and write. With this method one can learn how to play through games and emotions, without intellectual notions. The learning and transmission process is oral just as for music in traditional cultures.
Since the age of 3, Ombeline has kept learning the art of violin while pursuing her studies at school and then at the University of Musicology in Lyon (France), Montreal (Canada) and Lille (France). She has a Master’s Degree in ethnomusicology and is passionate about world music. At the age of 23, while taking the conservatory exam, she began training on how to teach the Suzuki method. She obtained a music studies degree at the Conservatory of Mont-Luçon and at Rosny-sous-Bois, and then an advanced degree at the Conservatory of Cergy Pontoise.
“Today I’m learning with both my students and teachers. My emotions, my feelings feed the music I play. ”
Ombeline has been teaching the violin since the age of 17 and finds it wonderful to see her students progress, play, blossom and express themselves. “What matters to me is the human exchange, the relationship with the other. Violins are tools making this experience possible, but it could be something else. Music is a language, a way of communicating that removes the barriers of language and social class. ”
Beyond teaching, Ombeline is above all a musician who flourishes in playing as soon as the opportunity arises, in concerts, at private parties or weddings, in cello or string trio duet, with different bands and in many different styles. For example, she played a lot this season with Robb Tito, in a band of 7 musicians (guitar, bass, drums, voice, saxophone, harmonica and violin). A wonderful treat !
In addition to events, Ombeline is nourishing the desire to compose, not only for violins, but to create a mix between electro and music of the world. To be continued…
In the 5 years she has spent in St Barths, Ombeline has managed to reassemble the violin class. With 35 students, both adults and children, her challenge today is, with the Saint-Barth Harmony association, to bring the school back to life, as the building was destroyed by Hurricane Irma and teachers have left. For this reconstruction project, initiated and supported by the Collectivity, Ombeline wishes to appeal to new teachers, open collaborations with the neighboring islands of the Caribbean and bring together 150 to 200 students as soon as possible. Finally, she has the ambition to form a Suzuki training center in St Barths for the Caribbean and South America.
A great challenge she will undoubtedly win, with the help of all the island’s friendly musicians and volunteers who work for the Saint-Barth Harmony association.