Tuning the Concert

Gold Arts Award Portfolio

Shadowing a music-making day on a Outreach project July 22, 2010

On Monday 19 July, I shadowed an animateur and two musicians during an orchestral outreach project in a Primary school in Oxford. It was day four of the project and they were using the theme of the solar system to inspire their work.

I came in when they were working on creating compositions using graphic scores. They were using percussion instruments as well as a number of miniature violins to create compositions about black holes, red planets and asteroids. They later performed their works to the rest of the school in key stage 2 as well as performing 3 songs: 2 taught and 1 that they composed themselves.

Some interesting things that I observed:

  • I liked the way as a method of crowd control, the animatuer would sometimes call out a word and the children would automatically respond. For example, code words used included quail and shark!
  • I was impressed how keen all the students were to try the violins. Playing a so-called ‘proper’ instrument was deemed cool.
  • Each of the groups had very different method of approaching the graphic scores. I particularly liked one score in the way that it was circular.
  • It was problematic keeping the graphic scores simple as they were given so much freedom at the beginning.
  • While playing with the musicians may appear to be the highlight for the students, when watching another group’s work they were occupied by watching the professional instrumentalists.

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What’s it like working in education as a violinist? July 21, 2010

Filed under: 1B: research — concerttuning @ 8:04 pm
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I spoke to a violinist on 12 July 2010 who is very involved on the music education scene.

She took a 2 year teaching course and then got additional training from orchestras such as the Academy of St Martins and ex-Guildhall music leaders.

She teaches in schools 2 mornings a week where she gives instrumental lessons as well as running an orchestra for pupils aged 13-18. In addition she is involved in music projects such as those run by Create and the outreach work of the National Youth Orchestra.

One project that she has been involved on recently has been collaborating with a photographer with two different schools – one high achievers and one handicap. The pupils have been working together in a shopping centre to create a composition using photographs of the shoppers’ feet. The project is special in the way that it encourages interaction between the two very distinct groups of children.

I questioned her also about my issue of tuning the concert. She explained how there are not enough regional schools concerts, as it is often too expensive for a school to come into London. She also explained that on workshops it is the children’s progress rather than the end result that is important and often the least likely children are the ones that go through the most change.