Education 2010

Schools Music Project 2010
At last – March 2010 and the sun was actually shining and the crocus blooming in Norwich to greet Chroma who arrived from London to bring, it seemed, Spring, as well as music workshops and a concert to six Norwich schools. The structure is for the schools to attend a free classical music concert at the John Innes Centre. This is preceded by a workshop in each school over a period of three days when the Chroma talk about their instruments and the music. The only cost for the schools is their transport to and from the concert. 

Chroma is a group of professional musicians well known to NCM members. They comprised their leader Stuart King (clarinet), Yevgeny Chebykin (horn), Julian Sperry (flute), Martin Cousin (piano and drum!), Emma Harding (bassoon) and Clare Hoskins (oboe plus actions for Sleeping Beauty). An additional non-playing Chroma member this year was Angie Wallis who brought her acting skills to the role of narrator in Cinderella. Schools participating this year were primary schools Eaton, Cringleford V A, Bignold, Tuckswood and Bluebell plus West Earlham Junior. Although numbers for the concert are limited by the capacity of the concert hall at 329, for the workshops in schools we were able to reach an estimated 450 children and their teachers.

The Concert programme was:
Le Tombeau de Couperin – Rigaudin – Ravel
Ma Mere L’Oye (Mother Goose) – Ravel
Sleeping Beauty
Tom Thumb
Little Miss Ugly Face, Empress of the Pagodas
The Fairy Garden
Cinderella – Rory Boyle

Feedback from the schoolteachers:
The children were amazed at the range of notes each instrument has. Lots of children want to learn one of the demonstrated instruments. You have certainly inspired them. [They] keep talking about it. An experience they would never normally get.” West Earlham Junior
Opened many children’s ideas to instruments they had not experienced before …and attending a concert. Some expressed an interest in learning an instrument.” Tuckswood Primary
The whole experience is such a great learning exercise for the children. So many different aspects of …the curriculum that can be done around the music.” Bignold Primary School

Feedback from the schoolchildren:
Many thank you cards with colourful drawings of instruments from Tuckswood Primary. They particularly enjoyed the modern Roald Dahl Cinderella with narration from Angie Wallis:
Thank you for inviting us to see you. I liked the music lots and lots. I liked the Cinderella story, it made me laugh and smile.” (Yasmin Year 3)
I liked the Cinderella story. I really enjoyed it because the lady readed very well.” (Lauren)

Alternative endings:
In our worknotes for the teachers we suggested the children might want to consider a happier ending to Peter and the Wolf, and Bignold had a go. These are some of their suggestions: “The Wolf in his hurry had swallowed the duck alive… The duck had to tickle the inside of the wolf and he got hiccups. The duck climbed out and went to the middle of the pond where no one would get her. They were all happy.” (Harry) “They heard a duckish sound from the wolf’s mouth instead of a wolfish sound… Then they heard a cough and out came the duck. Peter hugged the duck and they lived happily ever after.” (Daniel) “Grandpa bravely put his hand in and pulled out the duck… she waddled off to the pond to wash off the slime. The wolf went to the Zoo and Grandpa and Peter went back to their house to have a nice hot chocolate. 

Feedback from the organisers:
Most of the children (ages 7-11) would never have attended a formal concert before. Indeed for one of the adult teaching assistants who attended, it was also a new experience for him. The sound of amazement from the children as they entered the concert hall for the first time and found their seats was a delight. One school had been teaching ‘concert etiquette’ in readiness.
A number are learning instruments but have never seen them played professionally. Indeed their playing i.e. being part of a group of musicians, wearing a badge “of belonging” gives them an identity, something to be proud of, when their lives generally may just be a bit short of self worth.
A very satisfying if tiring few days. Great to see the children moving to the music, recognising the tunes they heard in the workshops. Chroma were terrific with the children. Personally having heard Peter and the Wolf 6 times in 3 days I felt Petered out by the end! However I was cheered by a comment from a youngster at Cringleford who asked me if I had organised the workshop, and when I said yes, his response was, ‘Nice work!’” (Susan Jack; Educational Coordinator)
Some interesting names of instruments according to the children (in fairness only one from this session):
– a ‘faboon’ ( bassoon) – an ‘elbow’ (oboe) – a ‘cardigan’ (accordion).

None of this could be achieved by NCM alone which seeks additional funding from other trusts and charities. This year we thank wholeheartedly the trustees of the following for their additional generous support for this project, namely: The Ernest Cook Trust, the Sir Peter Seaman Charity, the Foundation of Joanna Scott, the Barbara Whatmore Trust, the Paul Bassham Charitable Trust, the D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust, Archant Charity Appeals Committee, John Lewis Partnership and East of England Cooperative Society Community Dividend Fund.