Euan Murdoch is travelling Around the World in 60 Days meeting some inspiring people and asking them to share their music stories. Today’s post is from Director of Learning at Wigmore Hall, Ursula Crickmay on how they work to facilitate a musical interaction between children and musicians…
In the Learning Programme at Wigmore Hall we look for opportunities for people to engage with chamber music and song: in London we’ve got a broad community on our doorstep, so we need to think equally broadly about how we can present our core repertoire in innovative and varied ways so as to keep engaging with that community. It’s important to keep what is special about Wigmore Hall at the centre of our work – so the vibrancy of hearing and making chamber music and song at its best will be found across the programme. But moving that away from the concert platform we encounter a whole range of different contexts, so the presentation of that experience can be very varied.
When Euan Murdoch visited as part of his trip ‘Around the World in 60 Days’ we discussed one of our schools programmes that has been running for a number of years. The project grew out of the question of how to give school children a meaningful experience of string quartet music – how can we enable the quartet players to interact creatively as musicians with children and staff at school, and how can we facilitate a musical interaction between the players and the children?
We decided to offer primary schools a ‘Chamber Challenge’ – as a class they have to write a piece of music for the quartet: after developing some ideas with their teacher, and also in workshops with a visiting music workshop leader, they have a day with the quartet in which to finish developing their piece, rehearse it and then perform it to the rest of their school. In return, it ‘challenges’ the quartet to respond creatively to the material that the children present them with and to draw on their musical resources as an ensemble: the response of imagination and engagement from the children is inspiring, and players often describe the depth of what they gain from the project as musicians as being one of the most positive aspects of taking part.
As well as our work with schools we also offer a study programme for the evening concert audience and concerts and workshops for babies, toddlers, families and young people at Wigmore Hall, we work in nursery schools across London, we work in hospitals, family centres and with other community groups, we work with people living with dementia and with those who care for them. We offer training for teachers, early years practitioners and professional musicians. We take part in research and work with conservatoires and universities. Find out more about our programme at www.wigmore-hall.org.uk/learning
– Ursula, 07.04.2013