Here in the CLS office, there is always at least one person humming or singing a musical phrase on an endless loop, whether it’s the office phone ring tone (we’ve recently changed it one called ‘jazzy night’ and it’s lethal…) or a piece we performed in a recent project / concert.
In this blog post we’ve collected some of these brain-melting melodies that go round and round our minds on a daily basis… You may need this ‘cure for earworms’ after you’ve finished reading!
Over the last few months we’ve been working with our newest trainee, Emma Halnan, a flautist from the Royal Academy of Music, who joined our animateur-in-residence Claire Henry for our latest Key Stage 1 project based around the theme of ‘Wacky Weather’!
We sat down with Emma to ask a few questions about her time as a trainee, including her funniest moments, biggest challenges and favourite memories.
Tell us a little bit about what you did during your time as an animateur.
Whilst working on this project, I had the opportunity to work alongside Claire Henry, a very experienced animateur. We spent three days delivering workshops in schools, preparing the children to watch and participate in the final concert: Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. In the first session I mainly observed Claire, but as the project went on, I took on a bigger role. I introduced my flute and performed for the children, taught them about Vivaldi and the Four Seasons, andaccompanied their singingand the raps they had put together, all about the weather!
What would you say was your funniest memory?
Often the children’s extreme reactions to new things – “It’s going to be AMAZING!” – although I’m not sure I’d entirely class this as funny, just really great! Claire’s outfit was also rather brilliant in the final concert.
What did you find most challenging?
In general, the children we worked with were really responsive and well-behaved. We visited one school on the last afternoon before their half term break, which affected the children’s concentration somewhat, and brought its own challenges. It is always a challenge to keep all children equally engaged throughout an entire session, but I do think this actually was a very successful project.
What was your favourite part?
Many parts! I always particularly enjoy the initial session, as so much is new for the children and they get so excited! It was also very satisfying to see everything come together so well.
Was the life of an animateur what you expected it to be?
I have worked in this field before, so I had a pretty good idea of what to expect; however, every animateur deals with things very differently – they all have their own unique ideas, strategies, games etc. It is therefore always fascinating to work with somebody new, and to draw upon their knowledge and experience.
Last week our new Patron, Dame Felicity Lott sang in several of our recent Meet the Music projects with young kids, including two concerts for Key Stage 1 children in Tower Hamlets and Harrow. Preceded by a number of workshops with our animateur-in-residence, Claire Henry, the projects were curated as an interactive introduction to the idea of the orchestra, with special activities to demonstrate different instruments and sounds.
Photographs of the culminatory concert in Tower Hamlets, December 2014 taken by Philip Maglieri
Centred on the theme of the ‘Winter Star’, Claire presented the concert as an Arctic explorer who had to navigate her way through the cold blizzards to try and find the star to put on top of the tree! Wowing over 240 children aged 4 – 7 with a heart-pulling performance of Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Felicity Lott acted as the ‘guiding light’ to help find the final piece of star Claire needed! Known to the kids as ‘the woman with the most beautiful voice in the world’, the anticipation and excitement for them to meet the famous soprano was absolutely amazing!
Feedback and drawings from project participants, December 2014
‘Last year I went to see CLS do a programme for children in a church in Shadwell. It was terrific and the orchestra looked to be having a great time playing for the children, who were wide-eyed and enthusiastic. I’ve always wanted to …do something useful, maybe, but wouldn’t know how to go into a classroom and sing for the children- they’d laugh me out of the room! This seems like a good way-in, and the orchestra is really committed to this educational work, which is vital both for building up audiences and more importantly, because music is such a civilising, beneficial art form. Singing together, playing together, without competing, can be so useful and fulfilling, and everyone should know it’s there and can be for them if they like it.’
During the last week of October, our education team went on a week-long tour of Suffolk and Essex for this year’s Lullaby Concert tour organised in collaboration with Orchestras Live. Beginning in Clacton-on-Sea and ending in Stowmarket, Suffolk, the concerts—presented by Claire Henry, animateur—aimed to bring first time live orchestral music experiences to some of the most under-served areas across England. According to recent figures, we are delighted to say that we reached over 1200 young people in 12 concerts!
Centred on the theme of ‘The Enchanted Forest’, Claire and City of London Sinfonia musicians took the young audience on a musical journey using a combination of music-making and engaging story-telling (which included instruments being stuck on the musicians’ heads, magical jars full of music and a beautiful dancing ballerina!). Performing a range of classical pieces including Debussy’s Prélude à l’après–midi d’un faune and Dukas’ Sorcerer’s Apprentice, the concert was presented in a way that encouraged lots of audience participation and interaction, after a series of workshops in the area.
As you can see, some of the kids were very cute, particularly when, at the end of each concert, there was also an opportunity for them to have a go on some orchestral instruments!
A huge thanks to everyone involved and for Paul Coghlin for taking these amazing pictures! To see all of the photos, please visit the Orchestras Live website. To read more about our Meet the Music programme please visit our website.
Following on from our previous education blog A Little Taste of Chef Claire’s Musical Soup, our trainee animateur Hannah Bishop wrote about her experience during our food-themed education projects, including some of the techniques the education team came up with to help children learn about music. From musical recipes to tasty-triads, I’m sure you’ll agree that some of the methods used were absolutely ingenious. Read on to find out more!
I was lucky enough to spend four successive Fridays with Claire Bloor, observing and supporting her work with Year One and Reception children in both Lansbury Lawrence Primary School and John Scurr Primary School. The project, entitled ‘The Fantastic Feast’, was designed around the theme of ‘food’, culminating in a concert with the City of London Sinfonia Brass Quintet.
During the workshops, each class designed a recipe to present to the chefs (musicians!) at the concert. Claire encouraged the children to be adventurous with their choices resulting in recipes such as ‘snake and crocodile soup’ and ‘insects and mashed potato’! Each class learned the chorus to The Chef Song, which Claire wrote, plus a verse incorporating their recipe ideas.
The concert involved the CLS brass quintet, dressed as chefs, playing different examples of music from all over the world. Claire was able to use this to link different food-types to different countries. These pieces were interspersed with each class making their musical recipe (with a lot of help from some amazing props!), singing their verse to the chefs and all the children singing the chorus. Multiple performances of the chorus, plus breaking up the music from the quintet, was a great way to ensure that the children were completely engaged throughout the hour-long concert.
“A major triad from one of the chefs meant that the food the children had cooked was good, and a minor triad meant that it was disgusting.”
Throughout the project, Claire had been using major and minor triads to teach the children to recognise the difference between the two. A major triad from one of the chefs meant that the food the children had cooked was good, and a minor triad meant that it was disgusting. In the workshops, Claire and I took turns to play a broken triad and the children sung it back, to either ‘yum, yum, yum!’ (major) or ‘bleugh, bleugh, bleugh!’ (minor). This was used in the concerts and each time the children were correct. It was great to see how simple and fun it can be to teach something like this to young children, without having to explain it using words.
“It was great to see how simple and fun it can be to teach something like this to young children, without having to explain it using words.”
I learned a huge amount working with Claire and she was very encouraging for me to lead
warm-ups and song singing in the sessions, allowing me to experience leading younger children with her support and guidance throughout. She had some great games and short-activities up her sleeve and it was invaluable to observe how she kept a group of thirty 4-6 year old children engaged for an hour each week. Many thanks to everyone at City of London Sinfonia for this brilliant opportunity.
If you would like to find out more about our education projects, please visit our website.