Schools Music Project 2013
The sun shone in Norwich and the crocuses were in abundance for the Club's 15th Schools' project for local primary and junior schools over 5-7 March 2013.
The aim of the project is to give young children between the ages of seven and eleven the experience of a live classical music concert in a special venue away from the school environment. In preparation for this concert the musicians visit each school for a workshop to introduce themselves, their instruments and the music they will play.
This year the concert was on Thursday 7 March 2013, with the schools' workshops in the preceding two days. The participating Norwich based primary schools were Bignold, Bluebell, Tuckswood, Eaton and Cringleford V A, with West Earlham Junior and Yaxham V A Primary from other parts of Norfolk.
CHROMA, the London based professional classical music ensemble, is well known to Music Club members. On this occasion Clare O'Connell was the lead on cello, Dave Le Page on violin, Katie Pryce on French horn, Tamara Young on harp, Massimo di Trolio on clarinet and Katie Bicknell on flute for the workshops. They were joined by Steve Gibson on percussion for the concert.
In Britten's centenary year it was appropriate for our very own East Anglian composer's music to be the basis for the theme this year. As Yaxham noted:
- Great Britain
- Great Briton
- Great Britten
- Benjamin Britten!
Chroma introduced their instruments in the school workshops using Britten's Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra after demonstrating how each instrument was played. Massimo brought out his "grumpy" grandfather Bass Clarinet and Katie showed off her "very expensive" and "special" horn: 12 feet of hosepipe with a huge filter on the end which she played - much to everyone's amusement - thus enabling the children to see how long the brass tubing on her French horn is in fact.
The concert programme included Steve on a variety of percussion instruments after a rhythmic clapping session for all the children. Then followed a performance of Britten's Sea Pictures of "Dawn", "Sunday" and "Storm". Bignold school had made some lovely pictures of their impressions of the music. Finally we all sang Britten's arrangement of the folk song "O Waly Waly" or "The Water is wide".
We had 311 children and adults in the concert (restricted by the hall's capacity) but in the schools we were able to hold workshops in assembly halls enabling us to reach about 750 children.
Some comments from the teachers:
“...the Concert gives a sense of occasion - something special.” (Eaton)
“I was enjoying the music I forgot why I was there, but didn't need to watch the children because they were as captured by the music as I was.” (Teaching Assistant at Cringleford)
“Would like to say a big thank you for organising such a wonderful experience for the children” (Eaton)
“The musicians were very effective at getting the message across and there was a good level of interaction” (Cringleford)
“The children loved the harp. They were very moved by the music/musicians and when writing about it used words like “beautiful” and “brilliant” to describe it.” (Yaxham)
From the children - “brilliant”, “I loved the hosepipe”, “inspiring”, “moving”
One girl asked her teacher if they were going to a “posh” place as the idea of a musical concert was viewed as something that “posh” people do!
The concert is free to the schools and financed and organised by the Music Club with funds donated by members and various charitable trusts. This year we were particularly grateful to The Woodroffe Foundation, The Barbara Whatmore Trust, The Ernest Cook Trust, The Paul Bassham Trust, The Joanna Scott Foundation and Aylsham Music Society.
Additional workshops at the Hewett School on Monday 25th February 2013
Following their concert at the John Innes Centre on Sunday 24 February the Elias Quartet agreed to stay over and take part in two education workshops at the Hewett School which the Music Club funded as part of its Education Projects programme.
The first of these at 9:00am was a session with a small group of A and A/S level students from Hewett School with their Director of Music, Peter Jay. The Elias played movements from quartets by Purcell, Haydn, Beethoven and Schumann, a Britten divertimento and an extract from a piece by a living composer, Dutilleux, showing the progression of music through the centuries. The Beethoven piece was influenced by the trauma of his life at a time when he was going deaf and suffering an unhappy love life. The music of Schumann and Dutilleux reflected the colours and emotions of the art world of their periods.
Then, right up to date, the quartet played a composition by Donald Grant, the second violinist of the Elias Quartet. This reflected his Scottish background - a foot tapping medley based on Gaelic folk songs, the earliest of which would never have been written down but passed from father to son over the generations.
Finally we had a very recent composition, a rondo by Lewis Wolstenholme, a student at Hewett, which the Elias were happy to perform and the students recorded.
The Second session was for Sistema Norwich, a new and independent programme based on the Venezuelan El Sistema music education approach, made famous by the world renowned Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra. More information about Sistema Norwich is available on the Sistema Norwich website. There were about 22 youngsters from Catton Grove and Larkman Schools with their music mentors. In part they were listening to Elias playing but there were also fun lessons for them involving recognising tempi, questions in music (ascending) and answers (descending), the importance of following/listening to each other and recognising when the theme is passed between the instruments in a fugue. They had all brought their violins and cellos so were able to participate in a rendering of Scarborough Fair with the Elias.
In the general Q & A session one child asked whether the Elias had ever played with anyone famous. Had they played with Julian Lloyd Webber? The answer from Elias was "No" but the children had! ( He was patron of the In Harmony project which preceded the current Sistema Norwich and visited Norwich to meet the children).
It was a very successful day - all the students would have taken something of value away with them. For those of us watching from the sidelines, it was fascinating to see how the Sistema teachers involved and encouraged the children in the rudiments of music.