Cafe Muse Hereford

Swan in the Community

As we are nearing the start of summer, we’re taking time to reflect on our current community projects. Part of our mission as a dynamic and inclusive chamber orchestra is to continue to deliver activity that is relevant to each community in which we work. 

Across the region our players have been delivering music-led workshops, engaging with people living with dementia, pupils with visual impairment and with complex disabilities. Whilst exploring instruments, creative expression and composition, participants will find their own sound and discover diverse ways to make music with their own unique abilities, alongside improved confidence, and wellbeing.

"Through the magic of music, Orchestra of the Swan has managed to transcend barriers, opening doors to a world of beauty and expression for everyone, regardless of their abilities. The impact of these sessions on the individuals we support cannot be overstated. They have not only enjoyed the music but have also found a sense of belonging and connection in the shared experience."

Our Swan players action at Priestley Smith Specialist School 


Workshops for Visually Impaired Pupils and People with Complex Disabilities

We are currently delivering a series of workshops for visually impaired pupils at Priestly Smith Specialist School in Birmingham. Pupils are composing songs, based on author Laurie Lee and our Red Sky at Sunrise concerts. Pupils are playing instruments, percussion and singing, which will culminate in a sharing concert at the end of the project in July. 

"The children are loving it, and I am really enjoying the flow of the lessons myself. The children are getting so much out of it, much appreciated!"

We have been having a wonderful time at Sense TouchBase Pears (STBP) in Selly Oak, a centre that specialises in working with people with multi-sensory disabilities in Birmingham, particularly the Deafblind.

AT STBP we deliver Sound Seekers, an accessible session for severely disabled Sense clients on a 1-2-1 basis, in collaboration with Sense staff. We also deliver a Café Muse session, a music-led participative community café accessible for all, split into two hour-long sessions, one for children (plus family & carers) and the other for the local older community who attend the Sense community centre.

We have also been able to deliver workshops for pupils with special needs from Fox Hollies School and for children with terminal illnesses receiving respite or end of life care from Acorns Children’s Hospice

"M came really close to us in his super-cool new motorised wheel-chair and stayed there throughout the whole session! You should have seen his face! He was absolutely mesmerised by the music. He really loved watching Aisha play the harp, but watched both of us with such deep concentration! He joined in with arm movements and shakers"

At Evergreen School in Warwick, we have delivered 2 projects at both school campuses, Deansway and Brittan Lane Warwick for children and young people with Special Educational Needs. Each project was based on our Earthcycle project, focusing on the changing of the seasons. 

Each class had their own large artwork that was displayed at the final concerts. The songs were built up using Makaton, displayed on the board and by using artwork to make sure as many children could be involved as possible. Those who did not or could not sing were involved by playing handheld percussion, or expressing themselves through drawing whilst the music was being performed.

"We were amazed how students sang through the whole of ‘Wind, Thunder, Rain’ with little prompts from staff. It was great how students were given their own part and made to feel important in the group, even the quiet ones. One student even put down his book (he loves science) to ring the bell and start the rain section!"

Orchestra of the Swan flautist Diane Clark at Acorns Children’s Hospice

Care from the Community

"E loved the violin, and the school sourced one for her to learn on. The class learnt the song ‘E has an orchestra’ to the tune of Old McDonald has a farm. She performed this in the concert – despite being very nervous. Just before the concert, E broke a string on her violin, she went into Presto to have this restrung. A member of the public in the shop heard the story and paid for a full service and restring of the violin, so when her Mum went to collect the instrument, it was already paid for!"


Dementia-Friendly Music in Care Homes & Café Muse

Over the past few months, pairs of our players have been delivering participatory music-led workshops to care homes across Stratford, Birmingham, Herefordshire and Worcestershire. Our Café Muse sessions in Stratford (monthly) and Hereford (weekly) have been running successfully with joyful music being made.

With the support of music therapy charity Mindsong, 27 of our players are trained to deliver specialised activity for those living with dementia in and around our regional communities. Participants engage with the music through tapping, clapping, and singing, or accompanying our players on untuned percussion, experiencing new sounds and familiar music from the past, encouraging conversation, and the sharing of life experiences. 

“There were lots of smiles, laughter, happy faces, tapping of feet and clapping.”

The activities our players deliver help with slowing the decline in cognitive function and reducing social isolation, which then further impacts indirectly on the wellbeing of carers and family members.

“He absolutely loved Cafe Muse. It lifted his spirits and was stimulating. Thank you for all that you & your wonderful musicians do for the dementia community.”

Café Muse participants having a dance!

Swan players Philip Brookes (bassoon) and Martha Ann Brookes (trombone & accordion) 

“They played beautifully; it made their day very special. To the point a lady on the ground floor still mentions it being one of her favourite moments while living with us. She loves music"

Swan players at Café Muse in Stratford