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OPO Outreach: Wind and Brass ‘Come-and-Play’ Day!

4 months ago   |   Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra   |   Outreach, Primary Education

Last month, we held our annual ‘Come-and-Play’ open day at the Dragon School. Around 100 schoolchildren from eight Oxfordshire schools took part, with this year’s workshop focused on wind and brass instruments.

The day-long session was led by OPO musicians Tony Robb (flute & project lead), Heidi Bennett (trumpet), Danny Scott (trombone), Dave Ayre (bass) and Julian Poole (drums).

The workshop day was held on Tuesday 20 February at the Dragon School in Oxford. It began with an introductory workshop with all the schoolchildren, opening with the OPO quintet performing Duke Ellington’s jazzy piece called ‘Take the A Train’.

The performance was met with great enthusiasm from the students, who were then invited to form a circle in the centre of the hall for some warm-up activities – this was stressed as a very important part of the process, as of course playing an instrument uses your whole body! The students played different games to learn more about dynamics, tempo and rhythm, such as repeating back different clapping phrases.

Everyone was then split into three groups, with each group led by a different musician to be taught some brand new pieces. They had three sessions to workshop the new piece, as well as all learning a different section of Duke Ellington’s ‘C Jam Blues’.

The students learned not only the notes of these new pieces, but also about different timbres, phrasing and articulation to improve the musicality of their performances, with some groups even trying out a bit of improv! They also had opportunities to ask the OPO musicians about their instruments and careers, including a demo of all the different mutes a trumpet can use and all the different sounds they can make.

After lunch it was time for all three groups to reunite, and put all their hard work together. It was a jigsaw puzzle to piece together all the parts each group had learned of the ‘C Jam Blues’, giving the students a chance to hear their classmates’ performances too and see what each other had learned during the day.

Finally after the rehearsal, it was time for the concert, attended by teachers, friends and family of the students. Everyone really gave it their all, resulting in a fantastic performance of the ‘C Jam Blues’, followed by each group’s individual piece. In fact, it was so wonderful that the audience requested an encore of the group piece at the end of the concert!

After this performance, everyone was treated to tea and biscuits, courtesy of the Dragon School, to whom we are very grateful for their hospitality. Overall it was truly an amazing day, with all students showing such enthusiasm and word ethic that really shone through in the final performance! Well done to everyone who took part.

‘Such a great day for the children. I think it was one of the best yet, with the arrangements being just the right standard, and plenty of scope for real improvement during the day. It’s always such a lovely opportunity for them to play with professional musicians.’

Visiting school teacher (St Andrew’s)

‘Such a wonderful experience… children excitedly came to tell me how wonderful their musical day was! I’ve also had a lovely message from a parent expressing how super the concert was.’

Dragon School teacher & parent

A huge thank you to all involved in making this day happen, including the Dragon School staff, visiting schools staff, OPO musicians and OPO Education Officer William Emery, as well as the John Thaw Foundation for supporting the project.

You can learn more about our Education & Outreach schemes here.