•What We Do: Our primary aim is to encourage an interest in and love of classical music in young people, working in conjunction with professional musicians playing for the Wye Valley Music Society and other local music organisations. At the same time, we wish to help counteract the cuts in music education and to enable children in local schools, many of which are in the more deprived parts of the Wye Valley, to experience the excitement of live music played by top quality professional performers. We also want to provide young musicians with performance and work opportunities. We provide local schools with one-off music programs ranging from workshops to concerts and lectures by professional musicians already performing for Wye Valley Music and by performers specialising in introducing musical instruments to school children. We have also supplied three local schools with a young, recently graduated local pianist to help establish and support their school choirs. So far, we have worked with 16 primary schools and over 2,000 children.
• Why We Do It: Although Gloucestershire and Monmouthshire are wealthy counties, certain parts of them are not: the Forest of Dean, particularly Cinderford, Lydney, and the smaller village schools, as well as towns in the Wye Valley just over the Welsh border such as Chepstow, include some of the more deprived areas of the county and their school budgets reflect this. In addition, national austerity cuts have hit “non-essential” subjects hard including music. The schools we target do not have the resources to provide their pupils with exposure to much, if any, live music, let alone classical music. Even our short introductions to classical music can have a positive effect on the children participating in them. Music—listened to and performed—has been shown to contribute to mental wellbeing. Our programmes can do that, while providing children with exposure to music by top quality classical musicians and to the instruments they play. This not only provides a short-term benefit but a potential long-term benefit as well, introducing the idea that music can be learned and played by anyone and that it can even be a profession. Learning about a range of instruments and a little of what those instruments can do can ignite a spark in children which some may pursue later in life either as amateurs or professionals. We can enhance what local schools are doing with something they cannot afford to do themselves. And we can do this by offering aspiring, professional young musicians a chance to conduct community outreach with their art in a most immediate way—by working with pupils at our local schools when they come to perform for the Wye Valley Music Society.
• Benefits: The many schools with which we have worked have shown their appreciation and their interest in follow up workshops and performances. We have been able to move though the sections of the orchestra, from strings to brass and piano; several schools have had three visits from WVMiS. Three of them have also had a full term of piano accompaniment for their choirs, culminating in end of term concerts, with another term already fully funded, beginning in September 2022. This will mean the children will have a had a full year’s worth of live piano music. One of these schools, St Briavels Primary School, said at its recent concert that they feel “lucky to be part of this outreach programme” and that it has “enhanced our music provision and experiences for the children.” The children’s responses have also been uniformly positive both towards the workshops and the choir accompaniment. After one piano workshop held by the well-known pianist Clare Hammond, several children were fired up with enthusiasm for learning the piano and one, already taking lessons, said she was “so inspired” by what she saw and heard. We firmly believe that we have made a difference at the schools we work with.
• 2022 and Beyond: We hope to reach even more schools, enhancing and building on what has worked best in previously; follow up with the schools we have worked with already, rotating our programs to meet the changing needs of our target schools; continue to fund music classes where feasible and explore additional ways of using the wonderful musicians we attract for our concerts for the benefit of local children.
2018 (Funded by an Anonymous Sponsor):
‘The Astaria String Quartet’
Ellwood (KS2) 35 pupils
Clearwell (KS2) 24 pupils
St. Briavels (KS2) 50 pupils
2019 (Funded by The Lark Trust)
‘Travelling by Tuba’
Ellwood (KS1,KS2) 68 pupils
Clearwell (KS1, KS2) 45 pupils
St. Briavels (Nursery, KS1, KS2) 95 pupils
The Lark Trust also partly funded the concert given by students from the Royal Welsh College of Music
2020 (Funded by the Lark Trust)
Clare Hammond - Pianist
Pembroke, Chepstow (KS1, KS2) 200 pupils
The Dell – Bulwark, Chepstow 200 pupils
Thornwell - Bulwark, Chepstow 200 pupils
'Travelling by Tuba’
Heart of the Forest Special School, Coleford
St. John’s Academy, Coleford (KS1, KS2) 200 pupils
St. White’s School Cinderford (KS1, KS2) 180 pupils
Registered Charity 1092645