Put 141 children from 12 different prep schools into a school concert hall. Make sure they each have some experience of playing a stringed instrument: some may have 5 or 6 years’ experience but less than a year is absolutely fine too. Give them excerpts from five well known pieces from various eras; bring them together early in the morning; feed them delicious food throughout the day and give them 10-minute bursts of running around in the sunshine and by 4 o’clock you’ll have an orchestral concert to perform to parents that is worthy of any secondary school. Won’t you?
It sounds incredible but that’s exactly what happened when Banstead Prep joined the other schools at Epsom College for their strings day. We took 11 of our young musicians to take part in the rehearsals and final performance and every one without exception said how much they had enjoyed the day. The satisfaction of performing in an ensemble is undeniable but for children as young as Year 3 to be able to participate with such a large group of similar minded peers is a golden opportunity.
There was a point during the afternoon when one side of the room was playing Vivaldi at a different speed to the other side, and there was possibly a time when many children in the room had not heard of the word dynamics but both these things were long forgotten by the end of the day. The concert, led by their enthusiastic conductor, was quite astounding. A cultural and social experience to be remembered by all and a musical education not to be forgotten.