Professional musicians perform alongside Inverness pupils
The Scottish Ensemble musicians, with two of their guests playing percussion and harpsichord, visited Dalneigh Primary School recently as part of their Inverness Residency. One shorter workshop with Scottish Ensemble earlier in the school year had introduced the pupils to a newly-commissioned piece, ‘Tempest’, by James Redwood, and this whole-day workshop last month was designed to put the piece together, leading to two public performances by the end of the afternoon.
There were strings pupils involved from both Dalneigh Primary and Inverness High School, ages ranging from P5 through to S2, with some pupils in their 4th year of lessons while others, so far, had only had 2 lessons ever.
The morning started with some warm-up activities and rhythm games, followed by a more intensive rehearsal spent working out how all the various sections of the piece, and the different instrumental parts, worked together. Time was given to discover how to produce a wide range of sounds, from the calm and peaceful to the utterly tempestuous. After a morning break the rehearsal took a different turn as the improvisation and singing required for part of the piece got pupils experimenting with their instruments and really feeling free to make up whatever music they liked. Needless to say, much fun was had by all.
While this work continued in the school hall 3 of the Scottish Ensemble musicians visited other classes around the school: Daniel and Andy (violin and viola) visited the P6/7 classes, performing repertoire for their respective instruments, while Johannes (percussion) visited the P4/5 classes leading percussion workshops with the pupils.
After lunch the strings pupils, alongside the Scottish Ensemble musicians, gave their first performance of ‘Tempest’ to the rest of the school. It was greatly enjoyed and heartily applauded. The Ensemble musicians then performed a selection of their own repertoire definitely giving the strings pupils something to aspire to while the percussion and harpsichord provided a perhaps less-familiar but very engaging sound to the audience.
Before the second performance for family and friends later in the afternoon, strings pupils remained in the hall with the Scottish Ensemble musicians, playing more rhythm games including some multi-part samba with body percussion.
At 3:00pm the public performance started and went even better than the first time. All the pupils were thoroughly exhausted but inspired, and very proud of their achievements. All feedback was positive: the pupils had happily spent a fun day learning a lot and looked forward to the next time.
The Highland Council’s Music Development Officer, Norman Bolton said: “This long term relationship between the school and Scottish Ensemble has been of great benefit to the strings project we run there as part of our Instrumental Tuition Service and it is wonderful to see the development of the pupils involved and the relationships they have established with the professional musicians.”