The Swan in Schools

The Swan Education

Orchestra of the Swan 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.

The Swan’s 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 and projects are always co-developed and created by and with school staff and above all, pupils, providing lots of opportunities to perform, compose and improvise. All activity fully supports the National Plan for Music Education the Model Music Curriculum and an organisation’s own Improvement Plan.

Warwick Schools Foundation Partnership

Warwick Schools Foundation and the Orchestra of the Swan are delighted to announce their ground-breaking new partnership, aimed at creating a centre of musical excellence across the county, at Myton Road, Warwick. This will involve taking instrumental workshops and masterclasses into local primary and secondary schools in partnership with the Warwickshire Music Hub. 

It will provide access to talented children across Warwickshire to the Foundation’s outstanding music facilities, giving young people regardless of socio-economic status the opportunity to discover and experience the joys of music. Currently the Warwickshire Youth Wind Band and the Warwickshire Youth String Orchestra enjoy the state-of-the-art facilities for their rehearsals, and it is planned to broaden this.

To find out how your school, college or university can take part in this or other The Swan’s projects linked to composition, improvisation and performance skills, or to book a one-off masterclass, please contact our Orchestra and Education Manager Megan Matthews at:

Education Videos

Watch our videos aimed at primary school children including the brand new Earthcycle: Nurture Nature videos for primary school children with downloadable lesson plans led by instrumental quartets in partnership with author, trainer, and educator Felicity Robinson of Landscapes Naturally.

Educational Projects:

View our previous educational projects below:

BBC Ten Pieces

Orchestra of the Swan 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 Swan 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.

You can read the feedback below: 

“This experience was simply life changing for our students. Having the ability to listen and learn from world class musicians will have a lasting effect in the years to come. The staff helping to organise could not have been more friendly and helpful throughout the weeks prior and throughout the day. I really hope that we can work with the orchestra again as they were simply incredible. Could not have asked for more from the whole organisation.”

“We wanted to say a HUGE thank you for coming into school yesterday - what a wonderful morning we had. You could really feel the atmosphere of the school buzzing, even after you'd gone, from hearing and being involved in live music throughout the morning. The workshops were fantastic - pitched perfectly to the talents and needs of our children and they came away with a sense of achievement as well as thoroughly enjoying themselves. Particularly through the first workshop we all noticed the change in sound as you got children to focus on the sound they were producing, and they loved the tunes you chose. One Year 4 girl said to me 'That was the fabbest thing ever!' The recorder group came to talk to me, and many have been inspired to take their recorder work further and may well be pestering their teacher to teach them more notes! A group of girls is now thinking of starting their own recorder group, so we shall endeavour to find time to fit that in for them. The teachers absolutely loved watching the children's faces as they listened to you playing your different pieces - which were perfectly judged to appeal to all and show a range of styles and tempi. It was really magical watching their faces light up and so many of them were completely enthralled. One girl said it was 'divine'.”

Assemblies and Workshops

During 2019-2020 season Orchestra of the Swan 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, the Swan’s 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.”

“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.”

SEND Projects

In January 2020 four Swan 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.

Swan 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, The Swan 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 The Swan 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)

visually impaired student of Priestly Smith playing harp with the Swans


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.

Burning Swan

During the 2019 – 20 season, four Swan 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…”

-The Swan’s 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.