The project brief

This was a truly uplifting event and one that was clearly enjoyed by musicians, teachers and audience alike. The beautiful inspirational playing in the first part of the concert set the context for the super performance of the Romeo and Juliet story. It was good to see that every child had an important part to play in the production and so many were given the chance to individually shine. I know that every child will take away a life-long memory from this project.
— James Underwood, Head of West Sussex Music

As outlined in the National Plan for Music Education ‘children from all backgrounds and every part of England should have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument; to make music with others; to learn to sing; and to have the opportunity to progress to the next level of excellence if they wish to’.

This project was devised in response to reports from teachers, students and specialists from the West Sussex Music who stated that students (especially those having music lessons) required support when transitioning from primary to secondary school.  Feedback from these groups suggested that students found the demands of a secondary curriculum put pressure on their ability to keep up with practice and as a result students gave up their music lessons.  

Using Shakespeare’s play ‘Romeo and Juliet’ as a starting point and inspiration, Ensemble Reza designed a composition project which aimed not only to inspire students from Year 6 but also those who had already settled at secondary school re-enforcing their skills as young musicians. 

Students from Blackthorns Primary School and Oathall Community College worked with Pavlos Carvalho and Jane Haughton from Ensemble Reza and musicians from West Sussex Music to create their own musical score retelling the story of Romeo and Juliet.  The project resulted in a 45 minute piece created and performed by the students alongside Ensemble Reza and musicians from West Sussex Music.  This was performed twice (July and September as part of the Lindfield Arts Festival) to over 350 people in total.

Project Aims

  • To enable Year 6 students to develop a sense of self-esteem performing alongside older students at their new secondary school
  • To enable Year 6 students to become familiar with music resources and teaching at Oathall Community College
  • To enable all students to develop a sense of confidence and musical experience by working together and through public performance 
  • To work with participants to create a part composed / part improvised piece based on themes from the story Romeo and Juliet 
  • To explore the influence of rhythm and harmony in composition / improvisation and how different instruments can work together.
  • To consider the influence of different musical styles from classical to modern, world music and jazz. 
  • To encourage participants of different ages and abilities to work together to share ideas and push the boundaries of their creativity

Project Objectives

  • To work closely with music teachers, parents and the music service to ensure Year 6 students transition smoothly into the music department of secondary school and feel empowered to want to continue learning their instrument
  • To give students the opportunity to work alongside leading Ensemble Reza musicians as well as professional folk and jazz musicians who will inspire and direct. 
  • To devise a basic musical framework prior to the workshops which will help to shape the final compositions. 

Outcomes

For a full detailed project report, please email hannah.carter@ensemblereza.com. Some sample feedback appears below.

One, rather shy member of the year 6 class (a non instrumentalist) felt confident enough to play a short tune on the piano as a starting point for one of the pieces.  Her delight was tangible as in the space of just one short session a metamorphosis took place and her little tune became one of the main themes of the performance.
— Sam Davies (Flautist) West Sussex Music
...wonderful to be a small part of such an impressive piece of work. I will feedback to the Music Service in the most glowing terms – if similar projects could develop with other schools in other parts of the county, I believe that we could see an unprecedented growth in enthusiasm for music making among young people.  As a template for such work, 'Pedro and Isabella' could not have been more effective
— Gary Mackenzie (Percussionist) West Sussex Music
 
The workshop has taken the "fear" out of composing and I am looking forward to seeing the impact of this approach to composing when my Year 9 students begin their composition work next school year in their GCSE class.’ The project achieved what it set out to do and more. Inspirational and will raise aspirations in our young musicians too
— Carol MacTaggert, Head of Faculty – Performance Oathall Community College
Ted (keyboard year 7) has not only enjoyed all the workshops and performances, but he has been inspired to work far more creatively on his own at home. What an incredible artist Pavlos is! The whole team of musicians were inspirational for the next generation. Such a wonderful idea to put everyone along side each other.
— Parent of student project participant