Upcoming Events

Education

OOTS works with local music hubs at each of its residencies to ensure access to and participation in professional high-quality musical and performance experiences for those in Primary, Secondary, SEND Schools and in Universities.

OOTS activities enhance cross-curriculum study whilst supporting and encouraging the holistic development of healthy individuals.

All activity can be tailored towards a school/college’s specific requirements, year groups and abilities, fully supporting the National Plan for Music Education and an organisation’s own Improvement Plan.

To find out how your school, college or university can take part in this or other OOTS projects linked to composition, improvisation and performance skills, or to book a one-off masterclass, please contact our Director of Impact and Learning Sue Pope on: education@orchestraoftheswan.org

BBC TEN PIECES

BBC 10 PiecesOOTS offers masterclasses and/or workshops in schools linked to the BBC Ten Pieces initiative which encourages pupils to develop their playing and improvisatory skills at any level using the resources provided by the BBC.  The project could include up to four 90-minute workshops exploring the selected piece and relating the music to other art forms or curriculum subjects, culminating in an in-school performance supported by soloists & players from Orchestra of the Swan.

Outcomes:

  • Increased music skills including composition, performance, vocabulary
  • Understanding of the value of collaboration and co-operation
  • Increased levels of confidence and self-esteem
  • Increased social skills

In February 2020 5 OOTS players and 112 children from schools working with Forest Arts Music Hub came together to share their interpretations of several works from the BBC Ten Pieces repertoire. Feedback was great and we look forward to the next event in 2022.

Since September 2018, OOTS has worked with over 2,300 children in mainstream schools in Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Warwickshire to provide access to fun, engaging and immersive high-quality musical experiences, led by our wonderful team of professional musicians. From delivering whole-school assemblies to bespoke string and wind workshops and masterclasses, OOTS’ player adaptability and enthusiasm for music in education shines through. Feedback includes:

“The music workshops with Year 5 were excellent. They were pitched at the right level… were engaging and got all children involved. It was great to have a workshop that involved a whole class, rather than a select few. The music played was outstanding with a range of instruments to show the children. – brilliant!”

“The staff and children who were in the performance loved it. They listened attentively to the pieces they played but also loved the interactive rhythm work they got to experience. It was an excellent afternoon and we can’t wait for the next.” Abbey Park Middle School

“Students from King Edward VI School attend rehearsals and concerts, speak with professional musicians and take part in workshops which all help to bring the music alive. They benefit enormously from the partnership we have with Orchestra of the Swan.” Debbie Madden,  Director of Music, King Edward VI School, Stratford-upon-Avon

We look forward to returning to schools soon.

HEREFORDSHIRE - Musical Journeys

From January 2019, OOTS players have worked with 50 pupils from 4 Special Education Needs Schools in Herefordshire; Blackmarston, Barrs Court, Westfield and Hampron Dene. At each school, OOTS players have worked with pupils to introduce them to orchestral instruments, work with them to compose new songs and perform with them at sharing events held at Hereford Courtyard Theatre.

The sessions themselves have been extremely rewarding for all participants, with feedback from teaching staff including:

  • “These wonderful sessions provided children with the experience of handling and learning about a variety of musical instruments. Many of the children in this groups have problems with processing sensory information and these sessions provided the children with the opportunity to explore a variety of musical compositions at a level which was comfortable for them. They also gained confidence in order to perform in front of others. 
  • As a teacher I have learnt so much from watching the professionals in action! Music is an area which not explored in great details in my general teaching practice, so it was really valuable for me to see the different ideas and techniques used to deliver good quality music sessions.
  • Thank you to all involved for the effort and energy you out into this project. It was an absolute joy to be a part of it and we look forward to further potential opportunities to work together again.”

We look forward to working with everyone again soon.

BIRMINGHAM

Bringing the orchestra to Priestley Smith School for Visually Impaired Children, Perry Barr, Birmingham

During September and December 2019 and January-March 2020, 4 OOTS musicians and 2 OOTS staff delivered an exciting and very rewarding project for primary and secondary visually impaired children attending Priestley Smith School in Birmingham. Matthew Forbes (cello), Louise Braithwaite (oboe), Robyn Lund (viola) and Martha-Ann Brookes (trombone/trumpet) offered initial instrumental lessons to all 19 upper primary phase children and this phase of the project culminated in a sharing performance to parents on 16th December 2019. Secondary pupils were working on developing short composition when the COVID-19 outbreak brought our activity in school to a sad end – for now. Instruments were provided on loan to OOTS by Services for Education, the music education hub for Birmingham and our supporting partners in this project.

The project idea was developed from conversations with Lisa Marie Houghton-Reade, a member of the OOTS staff team who herself is living with a visual impairment. Lisa is passionate about her work, raising thousands of pounds each year in support of our Learning and Participation programmes of which this new project is becoming an exciting and popular addition.

Feedback from teaching staff includes:

“Wow. What a wonderful morning we have had here at Priestley Smith exploring a range of instruments. Big thank you to Orchestra of the Swan for applying for a grant… to fund all our Junior pupils in Primary to receive a 6-week program of lessons each with their choice of either a cello, trombone, trumpet, oboe, recorder or a violin”

The impact upon our players has been equally as profound:

“I just wanted to say that the project between us at OOTS and the students at Priestley Smith school stands out as being the most profoundly rewarding work I have done in this calendar year…I am going to miss those children deeply, as I know I have got more from them than they have from me. I hope the relationship between the orchestra and the school is one that continues for a long time”. Matthew Forbes, cellist.

Everyone at OOTS is eager to return to school and work with the pupils again in the very near future.

During the 2019 – 20 season, 4 OOTS players and 10 students from The Royal Birmingham Conservatoire took part in a groundbreaking co-creative project.

The Project, titled Burning Swan, offered improvisatory, compositional workshops that enabled students and professional players to work together on an equal footing. These workshops brought together classical Western orchestral instruments with examples from other cultures’ traditions including tabla and erhu.

The project was warmly received by players and students alike:

“I really enjoyed the Burning Swan sessions and felt that I, personally benefited from them. One thing I learned was to allow time for thoughts/ sounds/ ideas to develop… I enjoyed the interaction with all the players (and) I gained in confidence……. I was really thrilled with the way my own composition developed…” OOTS Principal Flautist – Diane Clark

“I most enjoyed meeting new musicians with different experiences and backgrounds in music, even others from different cultural styles of music. I also loved experimenting with a group that were all good musicians and very open to ideas. I was very much looking forward to the gigs that were to be approaching. I hope the project continues if not I would love to be involved in similar ones. “ Alexander, Student at RBC.

Unfortunately the project was brought to a close by the Covid-19 lock-down, but we hope to continue as soon as we are all able.

Past Projects

BBC Ten Pieces

Whole day Masterclasses and workshops in partnership with Forest Arts Music Hub, Walsall

In February 2019, 5 OOTS players led sectionals and workshops linked to the BBC Ten Pieces repertoire. Working with over 100 staff and pupils from several schools in the area, pupils were encouraged to develop their playing and improvisation skills and share their musical journey with their parents at a performance later that day.

Shakespeare Week

In March 2018, OOTS musicians led music workshops as part of Shakespeare Birthplace Trusts’ Shakespeare Week initiative at the Guild Chapel, Stratford-upon-Avon. Throughout the day over 150 pupils from schools in Warwickshire experienced several activities at historic venues around the town and learned songs about Shakespeare’s plays – composed and arranged by Matthew Forbes, OOTS Cellist. Shakespeare Week is delivered in March every year.

A pilot project with Barrs Hill Secondary School. Funded by Coventry Performing Arts.

Three OOTS musicians led four 2-hour cross-curricular workshops in Barrs Hill School, Coventry relating to Key Stage 3 History, Music, English and Maths.

Working with thirty Year 7 and 8 pupils, 3 musicians used themes from Ralph Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending to inspire young composers to develop their own creative responses through poetry and music. Working with a mixed group of instrumentalists which included cornets, saxophone, steel pans, keyboards, tuned and untuned percussion and voice, OOTS musicians explored the George Meredith poem of the same name, the inspiration behind the work and the political landscape of the time.

Each session began with various ice-breakers and warm ups to get the group working together and were followed with improvisations and composition practise based around the D Major pentatonic scale, as used in “The Lark”.

“What an amazing experience this has been for our students. This has not only provided them the opportunity to work with professional musicians of such high calibre but has also challenged their creativity in so many ways. To produce such a fabulous final performance with the addition of profound poetry and beautiful haikus written completely by the students themselves gives them, their parents, their teachers and the school something to be extremely proud of.” Detta Edwards, Head of Music at Barrs Hills School

“I enjoyed when everyone joined in together with their instruments because it sounded great – as if it was building” year 8 pupil

“All the things we did in our session were incredible and really inspiring”  year 7 pupil


SEND Projects

Between 2011 & 2015, OOTS delivered 3 successful opera projects in partnership with Talking Birds including ‘Troy Story’ and ‘Ant and Cleo – The Musical’, which enabled children to reach their full creative potential, supported collaboration between SEND and mainstream schools and helped to break down prejudice.

Troy Story – An intergalactic opera 2013: A unique partnership between OOTS and Talking Birds in collaboration with Welcombe Hills (Stratford upon Avon SEND), Bray’s (Birmingham SEND), Thomas Jolyffe Primary, Wilmcote Primary, St Edmund’s Primary (B’ham), and St Patrick’s Primary (Walsall)

Ant and Cleo –  (2015) in collaboration with Welcombe Hills, Brays and Bridgetown Primary School, Stratford-upon-Avon.  This re-telling of the classic story used a sweeping orchestral score and stunning design, and featured 100 extraordinary young people alongside Orchestra of the Swan and four soloist; Sam Fox of Kiln Theatre, Jake Oldershaw of Untied Artists, Louise Wayman and Themba Mvula.