Making music with a national orchestra Summary This inner-city boys’ school has been working with the London Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO) for three years. In this project, the school was keen to raise the self- esteem and aspirations of a group of talented year 7 musicians. The boys spent three workshops working with musicians from the orchestra, writing short melodies using the C major scale and developing skills in playing, listening and performing as an ensemble. They then took part in a final sharing session in a professional concert hall, where they came together with other schools and musicians to listen to others play and perform their piece. The pupils gained confidence as the project progressed and, by the final session, were happy to play and dance in front of an audience. They learnt to work together as a team, listening to and supporting each other. Their concentration improved and working with professional musicians raised their self-esteem. Both the teacher and LPO saw clear improvements in the boys’ rhythmic skills, understanding of melody and ability to perform accurately and sensitively. This project highlights the benefits of arts organisations establishing long-term links with schools in terms of continuity of learning and impact on pupils’ arts education. Since starting to work with the LPO, the school’s music department has become much higher profile and results have improved dramatically (from 21% of pupils achieving A* to C in GCSE Music to 57%). Deutsche Bank’s commitment to three years’ funding has played an important part in enabling the LPO to establish long- term links like this. What did the school want to achieve? School improvement The school wanted to broaden pupils’ experiences by giving them an opportunity to find out about orchestral music, mix with musicians from the orchestra and perform in a concert hall. In doing so, it hoped to raise pupils’ aspirations and introduce them to a world outside their everyday lives. In particular, the school wanted to increase pupils’ self-confidence and self-esteem by encouraging them to perform and enabling them to achieve musically. It was also keen to develop pupils’ language skills, ability to think independently and team working skills. In this way, it hoped that the project would lay the foundations for improved learning across the curriculum. By encouraging pupils from different classes to work together at the start of year 7, the school hoped to engender a sense of community across the year group. It also felt that composing and performing a piece of music together would give boys from diverse cultural backgrounds a positive shared cultural experience. Pupils’ arts education By working with the LPO, the school wanted to give pupils an opportunity to share a musical experience in school time that was beyond what it could normally offer. It targeted the project at gifted young musicians, hoping to build their understanding and raise their aspirations. In particular, the school’s specific objectives for music were to develop the pupils’: level of performance; musical sensitivity; accuracy of playing; listening skills; understanding of the basic principles of the C major scale and its use in melody writing. By achieving these objectives, the school hoped to speed up the pupils’ progress in national curriculum music. What did the arts organisation want to achieve? This project was the latest stage in developing the partnership between the LPO and the school. The LPO is committed to forging long-term links with schools so that it can get to know their individual needs, build good relationships with staff and make a real impact on the quality of pupils’ musical experience throughout their school life. In this case, the school had already taken part in a ConcertLink project leading up to one of the LPO’s five annual schools’ concerts. In the future, the school and orchestra are planning to work together on developing melodies for a James Bond theme tune to be performed at a schools’ concert at the Royal Festival Hall. The LPO hoped that working with professional musicians would give staff and pupils new ideas and enthusiasm for music. As with all of its projects, it was keen to show how different approaches could be used within the national curriculum and the schemes of work. From its own perspective, the LPO wanted to break down traditional stereotypes about classical music and consolidate the orchestra’s place as a community resource. In the long run, it hoped that some of the pupils would feel an affinity to the orchestra and become regular concert-goers. The LPO also wanted to learn from this project and use feedback and findings to improve its work with schools in the future. It is keen to extend its work in education and evaluated the project as part of a wider evaluation of its education programme. What activities took place? Getting started The school attended one of the LPO’s schools’ concerts two years ago and has been working with the orchestra ever since. Initially, the school took part in a ConcertLink workshop, which involved key stage 3 pupils playing with musicians at the Royal Festival Hall. Keen to develop the relationship, the LPO’s education manager wrote inviting the school to take part in the PlayerLink scheme. To apply for a PlayerLink project, the school’s Head of Music fills in a form outlining information about the type of project required (for example year group, number of pupils, scheme of work coverage). In this case, the teacher suggested a project based on melody writing and the C major scale. The LPO accepted the proposal and assigned a workshop leader to the project. The workshop leader – who is one of the orchestra’s full-time musicians – rang the music teacher to talk through practical arrangements. They then met at a PlayerLink training session, which brought together teachers from the six schools involved in the scheme that term, along with workshop leaders and players. The whole group shared ideas and learnt a song that all of the pupils would perform together in a sharing session at the end of the project. The group then split up into project teams (in this case the teacher, the workshop leader and a cellist from the orchestra). The teacher explained that his aim was to get a group of 15 year 7 pupils to write short melodic ideas using the C major scale. Together, the team discussed possible approaches and agreed on instrumentation and an overall shape for the project. They decided to focus on encouraging pupils to build a melodic shape before using rhythm to liven it up. The first in-school workshop The teacher chose 15 of the strongest musicians from across year 7 to take part in the project. The workshop leader began with simple, achievable ice-breaking activities, including vocal warm-ups and movement to music. These allowed the boys to relax and began to break down barriers between both pupils and adults. The workshop leader then introduced the song for the final sharing session – ‘Tsena, Tsena’. Some of the pupils already knew this and enjoyed helping to teach it to others in the group. The boys were then divided into three groups of five – one led by the teacher, one by the workshop leader and one by the cellist. To ensure inclusion, the teacher had decided the groups in advance, taking into account the pupils’ behavioural needs, confidence and abilities. Each group worked with xylophones and metallophones loaded with the notes of the C major scale. The group leaders began by shuffling a pack of playing cards and telling the pupils that they were going to use them to compose a melody. With the cards face down, the boys were asked to pick one from the pack. From a starting point in the middle of the scale, they were told to go up a note if they picked a red card, down a note if they picked a black card, and to stay on the same note if they chose a picture. To add an extra dimension, if they picked a jack, they could jump a note. The pupils were enthusiastic about exploring different combinations of notes in this way and enjoyed the physical activity of playing percussion. The group leaders encouraged them to experiment with making different types of sound by using a range of beaters. As new melodic shapes emerged, the boys started to add rhythmic ideas to suit the tunes. At the end of the workshop, the whole group came together to share its achievements and to talk about how different melodies and rhythms worked together. The second in-school workshop After vocal and movement activities as before, the second workshop continued the work on developing melody and rhythm. At this stage, three clear responses to the same brief emerged, which the whole group then talked about how to bring together into a single piece. Some of the boys acted as conductor, bringing in different groups and exploring a variety of arrangements. Gradually, they began to develop the ability to isolate bits of music and listen to each other. They discovered that not everyone has to play at the same time and began to learn the value of silences. The third in-school workshop In the third workshop, the group chose a final arrangement and rehearsed the whole piece. The group leaders wrote down the composition for their own benefit, but the pupils worked from memory, achieving tremendous results in a short time. They also worked on ‘Tsena, Tsena’ and produced a dance/movement to accompany the song. The sharing session The final sharing session – which brought together all of the pupils, teachers and musicians involved in the PlayerLink scheme – took place at Henry Wood Hall, a professional orchestral rehearsal space. The session began with the workshop leaders and musicians introducing different instruments and performing together, which inspired the pupils and gave them something to aspire to. Some of the project leaders also played a string quartet, demonstrating the skills in ensemble playing and listening that the pupils had been developing through the project. Each of the schools then performed in turn, listening to one another and valuing each other’s performances regardless of age and ability. Although the boys were very nervous, they performed their piece confidently and convincingly, impressing the audience. The session finished with an uplifting rendition of ‘Tsena, Tsena’, complete with movement and dancing. The boys got back to school at lunchtime, but the teacher kept the group together for the whole afternoon to capitalise on their excitement and enthusiasm. He encouraged them to evaluate the project and they spent two hours sharing their views and making constructive observations, showing high levels of interest and concentration. Teaching strategies, time and resources Teaching strategies The workshop leader used physical activities – vocal and movement exercises – to encourage the pupils to relax and get to know one another. When it emerged that some of the boys already knew ‘Tsena, Tsena’, he capitalised on the opportunity to break down the traditional pupil/adult barriers by encouraging them to teach the song to the rest of the group. One of the school’s aims was to develop the pupils’ teamwork skills. The project achieved this by ensuring that the boys had plenty of opportunities to work in both large and small groups. The group leaders actively encouraged the pupils to listen to one another and value each other’s contributions. The project began from the unorthodox starting point of a pack of cards. The group leaders fostered this experimental spirit throughout the sessions, encouraging the pupils to improvise and explore. Project work was confined to the three in-school workshops and the sharing session. This ensured that the pupils stayed fresh and focused – the project never lost its excitement and appeal. Use of time and resources The project itself consisted of three workshops held during school time, each lasting 1 hour 45 minutes. These took place over a month, to allow development and thought between workshops and to fit in with the school’s timetable and the LPO players’ diary. The sharing session was an hour long. The three workshops took place in the school’s music department, with the school’s instruments and facilities. The sharing session was held at Henry Wood Hall, a professional rehearsal venue that was an impressive, inspirational environment for the pupils’ performance. As well as the music teacher, workshop leader (an LPO musician) and another player (a cellist), three other members of staff from the LPO were involved in documenting and observing the project. How was evidence collected? The school collected evidence to evaluate the success of this project by: monitoring attendance figures for the workshop sessions and the final sharing session; carrying out a baseline assessment based on vocal and movement exercises in the first workshop, then running the same test in the final workshop; teacher observation; assessing pupils’ work (making qualitative judgements); collecting comments from staff, parents and LPO musicians. After the sharing session, the pupils took part in a supervised review of the project, during which they identified the main elements of the project and recorded their individual responses to these. They filled in feedback sheets and showed that they were able to assess how the project had affected both their level of musicianship and their wider social skills. The LPO also evaluated the project as part of its wider evaluation of the education programme. What were the outcomes? From the school’s perspective The school was delighted that the pupils seized the opportunity to try something new and enjoyed their first encounter with orchestral music. Initially, they were reserved with the LPO musicians and cautious about looking stupid in front of their peers. However, with the help of ice-breaking activities and encouragement from the group leaders, their hesitancy disappeared. Whereas they performed the baseline assessment vocal and movement exercises quite sheepishly in the first workshop, they joined in with enthusiasm and energy in the third. By the end of the project, they were able to perform their piece confidently in front of an audience and, much to everyone’s surprise, performed dance movements for the group song. Their achievements surpassed their own expectations and their self-esteem increased as a result. The music teacher was particularly impressed by the levels of concentration that the pupils showed when taking part in a review of the project back in the classroom. The school now hopes to build on this interest and enthusiasm across the curriculum. One hundred per cent attended the first two workshops, falling to 66 per cent for the third, and 72 per cent for the sharing session (a religious festival affected attendance figures for the later sessions of the project). By performing together and supporting each other in a team effort, the group got to know each other well and developed a strong team spirit. Feedback from teachers suggests that this has had a positive effect on relationships across the year group. The boys are now much happier about working in a team for other projects and are showing a new ability to cooperate and listen to others. During the course of the project, the music teacher and LPO musicians saw clear improvements in the pupils’: rhythmic skills; understanding of melody; understanding of the basic principles of the C major scale; ability to perform accurately and with musical sensitivity. From the LPO’s perspective The LPO was pleased with the obvious enthusiasm generated by the project and with the quality of the group’s final performance. It feels that an excellent relationship has now been established between school and orchestra, which it looks forward to building on in the future. What people said ‘Working with the LPO opens pupils’ eyes to all sorts of opportunities in the music world. It is a valuable, unique experience that enriches their academic, personal and social development. From a personal point of view, working with an arts organisation like the LPO is motivating and good for my professional development.’ (music teacher) ‘Projects like this enrich the arts curriculum, broaden pupils’ experiences and help to raise their self-esteem. Parents are impressed by our links with the LPO and enjoy having the opportunity to hear their children perform. During a recent Ofsted, inspectors rated our out-of-school activities as very good and highlighted our work with the LPO as an example.’ (headteacher) ‘We cooperated very well, followed instructions and by doing that we could produce some very good results. I think that the project was useful because working with the London Philarmonic made my confidence grow.’ (pupil) ‘I think that the project was useful because it gave us information about how musicians play. It helped us with our confidence and made us cooperate with our school mates. It was a good day out and I am hoping that we go there again some day.’ (pupil) ‘The project was good because it helped me concentrate, got me out of school, helped my anger, helped me work with other people and built up my confidence.’ (pupil) ‘It taught me how to play music better in front of people, so in the future I won’t be shy to sing songs or play music in front of people.’ (pupil) ‘I think the whole group played well. We conducted ourselves properly and all went in the same tempo. I really was happy and in timing with the rhythm. We had really great professionals teach us and that is something not everyone gets.’ (pupil) ‘Forming an excellent working relationship with this school has been one of the many very positive outcomes of our growing partnership with Deutsche Bank Citizenship. The energy in the school is inspiring.’ (acting development director, LPO) ‘This project gave the pupils a valuable opportunity to not only work with professional musicians in a creative environment, but also to grow together as a team. This had a positive, and let’s hope lasting, effect on their overall behaviour. The reliability and dependability of the school’s management contributed greatly to the success of this project.’ (education manager, LPO) ‘The surprise for me was getting the wood block players to play quietly and think about the different use of volume.’ (workshop leader) ‘Being involved in the project was an extremely valuable experience for the workshop team, as well as the children.’ (the cellist in the project team) What went well? What could have been improved? The school’s view Selecting the group to take part in this project from across several classes posed practical difficulties, with some boys having to miss lessons. However, the pupils benefited from learning to work with different people and have formed new friendships as a result. Simply being chosen for the project boosted their self-esteem. The pupils really enjoyed the workshops and loved the novel approach to composition. Having a final performance to work towards was extremely motivating. Being invited to perform in the impressive surroundings of the Henry Wood Hall was a real confidence boost for the boys and helped them to value what they had achieved. We’re planning to build on this in the future by giving them the opportunity to perform their piece to their own year group at school. The fact that the final part of the project took place on, or around the festival of Eid meant that a number of pupils couldn’t take part. When planning dates and times in the future, we need to make sure that we take into account these significant cultural celebrations. Overall, the project was very successful. We feel that we could not have achieved the same outcomes without the input of the LPO and its musicians. The LPO’s view Bringing together teachers, workshop leaders and players at the start of the project was a useful exercise. However, a second planning meeting (perhaps at the school, so that the workshop leader and player could check out the facilities) would have been helpful. This would also have given the team time to develop a more imaginative brief – the C major scale was quite a difficult topic to use as the starting point for a structured learning opportunity. It might have been better to have focused on strands such as ostinato or drones. Although another planning meeting would inevitably require more time and money, it would make the workshops all the more useful. The final bringing together of all the schools went particularly well and each performance was of a consistently high standard. The music teacher at the school is a wonderfully inspiring and motivating influence for the boys and is clearly held in high respect by them. We are looking forward to developing our relationship with the school in the future. This project is just one in a series that would not have been possible without the great support – in terms of funding, time and inspiration – provided by Deutsche Bank. We have been working with them for a while now and have learnt an enormous amount from each other. They have very clear ideas about what they want to achieve, which has helped us to make the most of our partnership. Regular meetings with other partner organisations provide an invaluable opportunity for us to share ideas and approaches. Being part of a network like this has given us the confidence to try new things, helped us to develop cross-curricular projects and enhanced our work with schools. About the school This inner-city comprehensive school for boys aged 11 to 16 has 537 pupils on roll. Most of the boys come from the immediate area, which has a high proportion of social housing. Over half the pupils are eligible for free school meals and more than 200 are on the school’s register of special educational needs. The school attracts pupils from a wide range of cultural backgrounds and has been recognised as a school ‘in challenging circumstances’. Over 100 pupils speak English as an additional language, with most of these coming from Bangladesh, Turkey, Somalia, Vietnam, Iran, Iraq, Sri Lanka, India and Africa. In the last few months the school has experienced an influx of pupils from Nigeria, South America and Lithuania. Last year, a quarter of pupils achieved five GCSEs at grades A* to C, with 80 per cent achieving five GCSEs at A* to G. Arts in the school The arts play a central part in the school and arts teachers are given the freedom and resources to work creatively. Each arts subject has its own arts policy, but there is no overarching statement for the arts. Last year, 50 per cent of pupils took at least one arts-related qualification in key stage 4. The school has a well-resourced music department and working with the LPO has helped to raise its status and success. The year before the first LPO project, just 21 per cent of pupils who took GCSE achieved grades A* to C. This leapt up to 57 per cent the following year and has stayed at this level. This is well above the school’s GCSE results across all subjects and represents an enormous success in terms of moving pupils on from the start of key stage 3 to the end of key stage 4. A year into life as a Creative Partnership school, the school has developed partnerships with a wide range of arts organisations. One highlight last year was a major cross-curricular project based on creatures and myths, which spanned drama, music and the arts. Plans are underway to run a similar project this year. Peripatetic staff teach guitar, drum kit and keyboards. The school’s out-of-hours programme – which includes a range of clubs for music, art and drama – was recognised as a strength in a recent Ofsted report. The school aims to ensure that pupils have plenty of performance opportunities each term, whether through school assemblies or more formal events (these have ranged from an annual winter showcase for parents to a performance of the opera The Barber of Seville). Facts and figures National curriculum test results at the end of key stage 3 Percentage of pupils at level 5 and above in: English 34% Mathematics 45% GCSE results across all subject areas Percentage of pupils who achieved 5 GCSEs at A* to C 25% Percentage of pupils who achieved 5 GCSEs at A* to G 80% GCSE results in music last year Percentage of pupils who achieved A* to C 57% Percentage of pupils who achieved A* to G 100% About the arts organisation The London Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO) is one of the UK’s oldest and most highly respected symphony orchestras. The orchestra has an active schools programme. It holds five schools’ concerts each year that are open to all schools in the Greater London area. Thanks to the LPO’s partnership with Deutsche Bank, tickets to these concerts are now free of charge. The orchestra also runs a series of ConcertLink workshops that introduce schools to how an orchestra works and are tied in with a specific schools’ concert. Schools that have already taken part in ConcertLink workshops are invited to apply for the PlayerLink scheme, which involves a school working closely with musicians from the LPO on an ongoing basis.