Ever wondered what life is like on our Education team? During our December Key Stage 1 project, our education trainee, Hannah Rankin (a postgrad student at the Royal Academy of Music), kept a log of all the things she was getting up to. From Freddie the Frog to Michael Jackson (who apparently composed Greensleaves, according to one of our participants!), here’s an insight into the exciting activities that Hannah got up to while working on the Key Stage 1 project, and what she thought about them!
Key Stage 1 concert outline:
This concert is about a Christmas tree that wants to get out of the pot and dance. The children need to help her by singing songs with suggestions of how she can get out and tapping various secret rhythms on her pot. In between attempts to free her, CLS players play various pieces of music to make up a concert for the children to listen to, with the aim of allowing the children to experience orchestral music. To conclude, the tree does get free of the pot and meets a ballerina who teaches her to dance.
During my time working on this project, I have learnt quite a few things:
1. It is possible for a group of 6 year old children to sit through an hour long concert of music and singing.
2. Never underestimate the imagination of a child, or where their answers are going to take you.
3. Children have very good memories, for people and especially in relation to music.
One of the most interesting aspects of the project was the different responses to music in all of the schools. The last school that we worked with have done projects with CLS before and we were working with the same classes as last time. The children remembered Claire as soon as she came in and when we started working on the differences between major and minor through two different songs, I was amazed to see the children had remembered those phrases and knew the words and actions that they had learned in reception. They also remembered all the words to a song about Freddie frog which I thought was amazing!
The second school had never taken part in any musical projects before and so everything was new to them. However, they were quick to pick up ideas and were really engaged.
By the end of the Key Stage 1 project, the children in all the schools had learnt about orchestral instruments, the difference between major and minor, composed a song, learnt how to find the pulse and how to clap rhythms. It would be interesting to return to the schools in a couple of months to see how much the children remember. If it was a different person leading the workshop, would they remember it as easily?
Working with Claire Bloor was brilliant! She is very enthusiastic and manages to keep the children’s attention and teach them in a fun and interesting way. I’ve learnt that it is possible to teach important information like major and minor keys just by adding a rhyme or an action. Learning is much more fun if you use a character such as Freddie our friendly wooden frog whom the children loved!
Another skill I learnt from Claire was to be quick thinking when it came to suggestions or answers from the children. The children had great imaginations! When we were learning about who composed Greensleeves, the best suggestions we had were Michael Jackson and God, which were very funny but also quite relevant suggestions. Some of the actions for the songs the children created were great as well – Gangnam style, mum and dad actions and ‘tying balloons to the tree to get the tree out’ were my particular favourites.
The whole project was a great success in my eyes as the children remembered all of their songs and actions but were also engaged during the musical interludes. Personally as a bassoonist it was very nice to hear lots of children at the end tell me ‘I liked the violin, Miss, but the bassoon is still my favourite!’
As long as the children were interested in the instruments of the orchestra, the project will be a success as orchestral concerts will no longer seem like an unknown. Who knows, maybe this project will inspire children to take up a musical instrument or attend a concert in the future…
And here are some responses from our wonderful workshop participants…