Education 2009

Schools Music Project 2009
This, the eleventh Schools Music Project, took place on March 4-6 and involved the following seven Norwich schools: Recreation Road Infants, Bignold Primary, Tuckswood Community Primary, Eaton Primary, Cringleford First, Little Melton Primary and Bluebell Primary. The Chroma Ensemble (a professional group of musicians based in London), through their leader Stuart King, not only prepared the programme of music but also arranged the pieces for the Ensemble and provided useful source materials for the teachers to use in preparation for the visits. These materials included details of the music, the composers and useful websites for further background research.

The music featured was Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite (‘Morning’ and ‘Hall of the Mountain King’), excerpts from Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite, Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition (‘Hut on Chicken Legs’ and ‘The Witch Baba Yaga’) plus Night on a Bare Mountain. So with trolls, witches and firebirds to spark the children’s imagination, the teachers could also work on other related activities in art, drama and creative writing. Some of the schools have been involved in the project for a number of years, but those which had not were visited by Susan Jack to discuss the programme and source materials with the teachers prior to Chroma’s visit to each school. This gave an opportunity to introduce Chroma and their instruments to the children in advance, as well as extracts from the music. The ensemble comprised Stuart King on clarinet, Tom Hanky on violin, Claire O’Connell on cello, Roderick Chadwick on piano, Ian Watson on accordion and Evgeny Chebykin on horn.

The schools were then invited to a concert at the John Innes Centre, when Chroma played all the music in the repertoire. Although numbers were limited to the capacity of the venue, the visit to the schools enabled much greater numbers of children to be involved – often restricted only by the size of the school hall. In total, over 600 children were involved in the project. There was no cost to the schools other than transport to and from the John Innes Centre.

The musicians were excellent. They had the children fully captivated throughout.” Tuckswood re the visits
What a wonderful experience, especially for children who don’t get given this sort of experience by their parents ” Tuckswood re the concert
The sense of anticipation in school prior to the concert was immense. Many of the children had never listened to classical music before and had no idea that it could convey a story.” Bignold
We listen to music while we work and the children now regularly request ‘Morning’ or ‘some Stravinsky’.” Bignold
It was a good idea that the children met the same musicians – it felt as though they were meeting friends.” Eaton re the concert
Please let us know of any future events in which we can participate.” Eaton
And these comments came from one set of schoolchildren who all wrote to the musicians and sent them drawings of firebirds and huts on chicken legs:
You guys are so tallented [sic] and one day I wish I can play like you.
“When me and my best friends got back to the coach all we could think about is you playing because you’re amazing.
Your music really inspired me to play like that when I’m older because I play the piano.
Your music is wonderful. Thank you for your wonderful insterments [sic]. The concert was brilliant!

The event was supported by NCM’s Development Fund and donations and grants from individuals and charitable trusts, to which we are indebted for enabling this project to continue for another year. The trusts supporting this project were the Chivers Trust, Anguish Educational Foundation, Town Close Estate Charity, East of England Cooperative Society and the Norman Foundation.