Music Workshops

As we prepare for our final week of workshops on this project, I’m so pleased with how well it has gone. Visiting each school with violinists Alison and Rachael, it has been so lovely to get to know the children and staff, share Menuhin’s music with them and have so much fun helping them to play, compose, conduct, try out violins and other instruments. We focussed on snippets from Menuhin’s repertoire: a Mozart rondo, Bach double violin concerto, Bartók duos and the sonata he wrote for Menuhin. These became our starting points to get the children to create their own musical responses.


In South Brent Primary the children have formed a huge string orchestra and we’ve created a lovely filmic piece using dramatic cello arpeggios and viola glissandi. In Pathfields School the children have performed group rhythms, solo cadenzas and duets on violins, weaving in some delicate Beethoven piano solos from K and N and fantastic dancing to Bartók folk pieces!


At Grove School an array of violinists, percussionists and ukulele players have used Turkish rhythms from Mozart’s concerto to create a dynamic group piece. Pilton Bluecoat students have made beautifully intricate pieces of music, full of dialogue and changing textures, even competing with some loud drilling one week!


Highlights of working with a group at Bidwell Brook School was their intense, eyes-closed listening to Alison and Rachael’s performances, and then joining in on their own instruments conjuring up a ‘dancing peacock’. Last week we were treated to O’s astonishing conducting, bringing in and out layers of Bartók violin phrases, drumming and keyboards, with changing dynamics and speeds. Her clear sense of pulse and enthusiastic conducting technique rivalled many a pro!


Richard Barnard