BPO Cellist Matthew Forbes writes about his recent visits to local primary schools:
“As part of the orchestra’s revitalised initiative to take our music into the city, I have been leading music presentation workshops in three primary schools around Brighton in the last two weeks: Carden School, the City Academy at Whitehawk and St. Bernadette’s Catholic Primary School. These sessions were kindly supported by the Fonthill Trust, and were organised to encourage schoolchildren to come to our rehearsal of Holst’s “The Planets” on 22nd March, and to hear the strength of a full orchestra in its Sunday Best for the first time.
I showed the children many aspects of music-making, both with my cello and through rhythm games which they all participated in with enthusiasm. We explored the idea of learning music corporately, of sharing a pulse but playing different rhythms simultaneously, and also the idea of metre. Tying in with the bass line of “Mars”, from The Planets (which is one of the BBC’s Ten Pieces), we set up a 5-beat rhythm along with a more familiar 4, and saw what happened when they combined!
In addition, I spent as much time as I could playing solo cello music to them; both classical and non-classical (using Middle Eastern, traditional Irish and Texan Bluegrass pieces as well as standard repertoire) to demonstrate the colour palette of the instrument. There was always time left for questions, which ranged from “How difficult is it?” (Itself a difficult question to answer) to “Can you play the bit from Lord of the Rings which goes…?”
I wanted to engage and enthuse. Music belongs to everyone. I think it was Mission Accomplished, and I hope there will be many more opportunities to make further visits like this.”
Feedback from the children and their teachers on all six workshops was universally positive and can be summed up by a St John the Baptist Primary School teacher, who said of their workshop (presented by percussionist Donna Maria Landowski):
“A fantastic experience and opportunity for our pupils to earn more about different instruments and take part actively in a very well delivered workshop. Thank you”