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.