A Day in the Life
|Organisation||Apollo Chamber Orchestra|
|Programme strand||Music on Your Doorstep|
|New Audiences grant||£16,000|
Four schools in Hackney took part in the project which aimed to encourage children to become involved with classical music. The project, included school visits, educational workshops and concerts to encourage children to explore their listening skills. Opportunities to ‘adopt’ a musician were also created so the children could experience how it felt to be part of an orchestra.
about lead organisation
The ACO (Apollo Chamber Orchestra) was formed in 1989 by David Chernaik and a group of like-minded musicians. Since its formation the ACO has been heavily involved in education work in the Hackney area, including an education programme in Hackney primary schools. This was funded by the Hackney Music Service and the National Lottery through Arts Council England. ACO edit and perform undiscovered works, particularly opera but also work on new commissions such as music and poetry as with the project ‘Poems on the Underground’ at Conway Hall. There is also an annual concert series at St John's, Smiths Square, including New Year and Easter concerts.
As part of a long-term strategy, Apollo Chamber Orchestra had been aiming to develop links with their community and local schools. Strong links were developed with the Round Chapel Neighbourhood Project who provided a database of community contacts and volunteers to help with leafleting and refreshments. This project was planned to encourage local students to develop a better knowledge of the orchestra’s music by putting on workshops and several evening concerts. The workshops were co-ordinated by Children’s Music Workshop who have a longstanding reputation in the field of music education. The LEA Music Advisor helped to promote the project and Hackney Music Development Trust also provided support.
aims of the project
- To target children from local schools in an education programme to extend their knowledge of music and improve their listening skills
- To put together a Teachers’ Pack of structured lessons and repertoire lists
- To encourage a new young audience to attend the orchestra concerts
- To build on the relationship with the Round Chapel Neighbourhood Project and use their existing skills
- To establish better links with the local community
about the project
The first part of the project, A Day in the Life, consisted of a series of visits to schools and workshops at the Round Chapel in East London. Musicians from the orchestra worked with children aged between 5–14 using a string quartet, flute, clarinet and harp. The workshops covered a range of music from Haydn to Elton John. The classes focused on elements of music that included storytelling, communication and interplay between voices whilst during the workshops children were encouraged to ask questions of their ‘adopted’ player and learn about all the instruments.
Four Hackney schools took part in the programme that included music by Mozart, Mendelssohn and a concerto for clarinet and strings by Jim Parker. Those children who attended a workshop then received complimentary tickets to an evening concert.
about the audience
- Over a period of about nine months approximately 1,500 children were involved in school workshops (each class averaged 30)
- About 2,400 children took part in education workshops
- An estimated 820 children attended the concerts held at the Round Chapel
- ‘It’s like you’re walking on air’ said one of the children about Jim Parker’s concerto. Another child remarked about a Mendelssohn piece: ‘I like it because it has all my favourite instruments in it.’
outcomes and lessons learned
The project far exceeded the expectations of the organisation as it was a new pilot programme. The final concert showed that the children could listen attentively to a workshop on all three movements of Mozart’s Flute and Harp Concerto, and then confidently sing the song from ‘Titanic’ after one brief rehearsal.
The success of the programme showed that no music is beyond the understanding of children and through the project the organisers learned more about the dynamics of a class and how best to communicate ideas eg listening skills.
The children were enthusiastic and if work could continue they could become the audience of the future, but the parents were not so involved. In future it would be better to involve them at an earlier stage and put the concerts on at a less busy time.
Overall the classes and workshops were productive and stimulating for both children and players and a great deal of material for teachers was produced towards the pack.
The collaboration with the Children’s Music Workshop was very instructive and it is hoped the relationship will continue. Strong links were forged with the four schools involved. This was because the heads were keen on the whole concept, as there was no overall schools strategy. As Hackney Music Development Trust provided invaluable support it is hoped that they would play a pivotal role in any future project.