Inspiring a new generation of singers and players in Bournemouth

27 May 2024

Wow, what an amazing week! Four days, five schools, 760 children taking part in 19 separate concert and workshop sessions in our residency for SoundStorm Music Education Hub in Bournemouth.

Jon, Hannah, and Paul visited two secondary schools and three primary schools, with Jon leading. Here’s how the week went …

At Bournemouth School for Girls, we worked with 60 Year 8 girls all day in four sessions – 30 were instrumentalists playing their own instruments and 30 were singers. All 60 students were at a high standard.  We introduced them to folk material and new songs in the folk style. There were five repertoire pieces – two pieces for singers, two pieces for instrumentalists, and one piece where they all came together. The day finished with a concert of the five pieces. Michael Whiteside, head of music at the school, said: “This was a fantastic and inspirational visit by Wren Music.”

At Bournemouth School, a secondary boys’ school, we worked with 180 year 9 pupils in 12 workshops across three days. We had shanty singing, folk songs from other cultures, and folk songs in harmony. There was fantastic engagement form all the youngsters, who participated in singing and playing a range of folk instruments provide by us – dulcimers, guitars, ukuleles, mandolins, fiddles, accordions and melodeons. The students were introduced to local and regional songs and tunes, and folk songs with an international connection. We had excellent support from staff and a wonderful reaction from young people, such as the singing sessions being “awesome” and “it’s amazing to play these instruments”. Paul said: “They no longer have music as a standard part of the curriculum, so these sessions provided opportunity and boosted confidence across the year 9 group.” Clare Whitehead, head of music at the school, said: “Some of the young people’s engagement and achievements made me cry with joy! We will be taking on the Wren Music approach and repertoire in our music work through the year.”

We also visited three primary schools: Moordown Primary School, 200 Key Stage children; Malmesbury Primary School, 200 Key Stage 1 children – reception, year 1, year 2; Queens’ Park Academy, 120 year six pupils. At all three, the Children participated in singing and dancing, and the Wren Music team demonstrated a wide variety of folk instruments – fiddle, guitar, accordion, bodhran, bass and flute. Paul said: “We had inspirational assemblies at the three primary schools. We played tunes from Devon and Dorset, and the kids loved the singing and dancing, they were brilliant. And they got to learn about all these amazing folk instruments. We’ve had great feedback, and it would be lovely to do it again.”

You can catch some footage of the Bournemouth School for Girls on their X (formerly Twitter) account: