In Harmony Telford & Stoke delights 770 children with 'Musicians in the Classroom'

It has been an incredibly busy time for the new In Harmony Telford & Stoke, with input from all partners – The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Manchester Camerata, Telford & Wrekin Music, Stoke City Music Service and Staffordshire Performing Arts. All seven hundred and seventy children from both schools in the project have been in contact with professional musicians. The phrase ‘Hit the ground running’ has never been more relevant as In Harmony Telford & Stoke delivered the six-day Musicians in the Classroom project in both schools.

'Musicians in the Classroom' was designed to test a new model of musical introductions for young people. Without any prior knowledge that musicians were going to burst into their classrooms, pupils were able to get closer to the professional orchestral world than the usual demonstration sessions with ensembles in assembly halls.

Imagine sitting in your normal literacy or numeracy lesson and suddenly you are serenaded by some of the most inspiring musicians from two professional orchestras, The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) and Manchester Camerata. 'Musicians in the Classroom’ gave all pupils in the In Harmony schools, Old Park Primary in Telford and Heron Cross Primary in Stoke, the opportunity to listen to solo instruments and talk to the musicians about music.

Young people were inspired by the ten-minute performances in their learning spaces and showed this through their intense and reflective questioning, assisted by class teachers. The orchestral musicians changed their approach to suit every age group with sessions including, bringing stories to life with live sound effects on violin, to emotional listening sessions with eyes closed, creating characters, stories and scenes through imaginative listening to live performances of classical music.

Musicians from both orchestras performed at the end of the school day to audiences of children and parents on the school playgrounds, to introduce the programme to the wider school communities. Children explained what had been happening in their classrooms to their parents and siblings. Several parents have already asked: “When do we start to learn instruments then?”

Alongside ‘Musicians in the Classroom’, composer Andy Smith and visual artist Dave Hulston worked with Year 6 and Year 5 pupils to create original music and artwork, and a community performance that supported the El Sistema philosophies of team work, enjoyment, respect, achieve and create.

In Harmony Telford & Stoke is a partnership programme between two professional orchestras and two music services. Instrumental teaching and musicianship sessions that deliver a holistic music education are planned for the new term in January 2013. All instrumental provision brings together orchestral musicians and music service staff to share their skills and assist children with their learning. In Harmony Telford & Stoke will be launching their instrumental programme in January 2013 so please visit their blog for more information and some images of the work already achieved.

In Harmony Telford & Stoke is lead by Telford & Wrekin Music, part of Telford Cooperative Council. For further information please email Project Manager, Richard Shrewsbury. 

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