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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 educational activities enhance cross-curriculum study whilst supporting and encouraging the holistic development of healthy individuals. All activity can be tailored towards a school or 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 at: education@orchestraoftheswan.org

BBC 10 PiecesBBC TEN PIECES

OOTS 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.

The benefits of this include:

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

Case Study: Forest Arts Music Hub

In February 2019 five 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.

ASSEMBLIES & WORKSHOPS

During 2019-2020 season, 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 leel… 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.

SEND PROJECTS

In January 2020 four OOTS players began the second of our Musical Journeys projects, with 50 pupils from four Special Education Needs Schools based in the Herefordshire area including Blackmarston, Barrs Court, Westfield, and Hampton Dene.

OOTS players met with and supported pupils from all selected schools, introducing the pupils to orchestral instruments and working with them to compose and perform new songs. Unfortunately due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdown in March 2020, the project has come to a halt, however, feedback received from the schools, up to this point, was all incredibly positive and plans are afoot to return in spring 2021.

Between 2011 and 2015, OOTS delivered three 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)

Birmingham

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

During September and December 2019 and January-March 2020, four OOTS musicians and two 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 schools to a sad end. However, we were able to continue working with schools by supporting two older students, Vinicius and Millie, to professionally arrange and record two of their pieces, ‘The Evening Falls’ and “I don’t want no kisses’.

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:

“The benefits [of this project] are that they [students] have contact with real life, professional orchestral instrument players with vast experience. It engaged the pupils in different ways via listening, touch, playing, and attending concerts.”

“This project was an excellent experience for our pupils to engage with the players and instruments of the orchestra. Over a period of time where pupils enjoyed engaging in 1:1 and group learning.”

John McGonagle, Head of Music

The impact upon our players has been equally as profound:

“I joined this wonderful project with students at Priestly Smith Schook only after lockdown had begun. Despite this I think we managed to find a way to work together and the results speak for themselves. John McGonagle, Head of Music at Priestly Smith, clearly has a special ability to inspire and nurture the young people and I was really impressed by the level of engagement shown by the students, particulary V who arrange the songs and real imagination and care. The singers also sang beautifully – each student should be really proud of their work: I think the recordings, despite the limitations imposed by the need to work from a distance, are great!”

Chris Allan, Cellist and composer/arranger

The pupils feedback was also complimentary:

“Thank you very much for all the attention and support! Being part of the project with Priestly Smith and the OOTS was really enjoyable! It was lovely to work with all the muscians and it has definitely helped me with becoming more aware with writing for some instruments.”

Vinicius Motta, Priestley Smith student who recently began his composition studies at The Royal Birmigham Conservatoire .

We look forward to working with School again in Spring 2021.

You can view both videos below:

'I don't want no kisses' by Anastasija Kudrjavceva

'The Evening Fall' by Vinicius Motta

BURNING SWAN

During the 2019 – 20 season, four  OOTS players and ten 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

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.