An inspiring, shared experience at the Royal Albert Hall for young people from neighbouring authorities
This blog is part 7 of a series of case studies about the work of hub partners in reaching more young people with music in Gloucestershire. Case studies are taken from our most recent annual report so some programmes will have ended, but they are representative of the work of the hub that is ongoing.
Gloucestershire Music (GM) has had a close relationship with Music for Youth (MfY) for seven years, hosting and providing support for its regional festival at Cheltenham Town Hall, and taking invited groups to it’s National Festival and Schools Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, London.
The Festival has featured performers from Gloucestershire Music, Bath and North East Somerset music education hub, and South Gloucestershire music education hub for many years, and being based in neighbouring authorities, it seemed only natural for the three to work in partnership. They began discussing how to showcase many of their top musicians and singers and an idea formed to create a massed ensemble which would perform at the 2016 MfY Schools Prom.
Gloucestershire Music was the lead organisation, commissioning a 10- minute piece suitable for a 150- piece wind orchestra and a 450- strong choir from local composer Philip Harper. Funding was provided by the three music hubs and by contributions from participants.
The choir was formed from existing secondary-aged pupils chosen by the three participating hubs/services. Students were chosen from school or community groups (e.g. the Beauregard Youth Choir and Chamber Choir who had participated in MfY in the past) on the basis of their commitment, drive and passion for singing at a high level. Recordings as well as notation of the piece were available online, ensuring that all singers – from those who had learned traditionally to those who were self-taught – could learn the music.
The collaborative nature of this project, in bringing together three music hubs, MfY and the National Concert Band Festival, was a driving factor in its success.
Cllr Paul McLain, Gloucestershire County Council’s cabinet member for children and younger people, said at the time: “What a venue and what a mightycollection of musicians! This is such a great opportunity for Gloucestershire Music and the young musicians that it represents. Gloucestershire Music has won a number of national awards in recent years, and to now be playing at the Royal Albert Hall really is outstanding.”
You can read more case studies in our Annual Report
This blog is part 2 of a series of case studies about the work of hub partners in reaching more young people with music in Gloucestershire. Case studies are taken from our most recent annual report so some programmes will have ended, but they are representative of the work of the hub that is ongoing.
This year saw the trial of a different way of delivering Gloucestershire Music ’s weekly whole class ensemble/instrumental teaching (WCET) programme.
Historically in Gloucestershire, schools have tended to buy in whole class tuition on one instrument for one or two classes, for 10 weeks.
However, at Castle Hill Primary in Brockworth, all 90 year 4, 5 and 6 pupils have been able to take part in 20 weeks of mixed brass (baritone horn, trumpet/cornet, trombone) and clarinet, followed by another 10 weeks of more focused, smaller-group lessons on a chosen instrument.
During the initial two terms of weekly 45-minute WCET sessions, each class of pupils learned the key building blocks of music, notation and instrumental technique. A performance at the end of the 10 weeks provided a chance to celebrate and showcase their skills, and then each child who wanted to continue, picked an instrument to learn for the next 10 weeks in smaller groups during the Summer term.
Sue Broadhurst, Headteacher, said:
“The children were really excited about learning a new instrument. It enabled every child to be involved, and when they played in a concert at the end of the 10 weeks it was clear how much their confidence had grown. One boy was overheard telling his friend about the time he played for a jazz band.”
This final 10 weeks allowed for more detailed learning in 20-30- minute lessons in smaller groups of around 10 pupils. This is something that parents would usually pay for, but which many may be cautious about, in case their child doesn’ttake to the instrument.
Sue continued: “The next term, the children were able to demonstrate more resilience to cope with more difficult pieces. And by learning individual instruments in practice sessions and then joining to form an orchestra, the children grew their responsibility to practice andcontribute.”
Hopefully, having been given this chance to demonstrate their skills and interests, they will continue with paid-for lessons in or out of school 12 and join one of Gloucestershire Music’s music centres to support their progress. FAME academy, for example, which takes place in the centres, is open to students who have knowledge of just the first few notes on their instrument.
Following the success of this trial, the school plans to enter these 90 pupils into the Music for Youth Regional Festival held at Cheltenham Town Hall in March. Most importantly, it has committed to continue for the full 30 weeks of the academic year 2017-18, with an option to put in place small group tuition from Gloucestershire Music for those students who show a further interest. Several more schools in Gloucestershire are now buying in tuition for more than one class or in some cases whole key stages.
“We are now looking forward to taking part in our first inter-schools event”, says Sue. “They have the support of their classmates who now understand that without practice and determination, you can’t improve. One child has unexpectedly shown real talent which has been recognised by her classmates. I was proud to tell her parents of her success, and this opportunity has made them think about lessons at secondary school, whereas before, this wouldn’t have been a consideration.”
You can read more case studies in our Annual Report