We were delighted to hold another of our regular ‘orchestral’ open days for local primary schools – this time for wind and brass – in collaboration with the Dragon School in March 2020. Pupils from six local primary schools, all beginner brass and woodwind instrumentalists were invited to the Dragon, and the day focused on the theme ‘Jazz Café and Blues’.
The children – 85 in number – enjoyed a day filled with workshops and exercises, led by OPO musicians Tony Robb (flute), supported by Olly Galletta (bassoon), Stuart Essenhigh (trumpet), Julian Poole (percussion) and Dave Ayre (double bass), teachers from the Dragon, and OPO staff Laura Davies (trumpet) and Bethany Wright (clarinet). Following an active warm up, the children were split into three groups and throughout the day, worked on their individual pieces as well as a group piece based on Duke Ellington’s C Jam Blues. The children learned about idiomatic jazz techniques including improvisation and swing and syncopated rhythms.
At the end of the day, teachers and parents gathered to watch a concert performance of what the children had put together in just one day. We were treated to a wonderful showcase of jazz and a riveting group performance of C Jam Blues.
We would like to thank the Stavros Niarchos Foundation for their support, allowing us to provide what was altogether an excellent day for children from many different primary schools across Oxford to have fun by playing music. The children gained in confidence throughout the day, being encouraged and inspired by the OPO musicians and Dragon music teachers, and were rewarded with their brilliant concert performance in front of an audience of delighted parent s and teachers. Formal evaluation from staff and children was (as usual!) overwhelmingly positive, and scored elements of the feedback averaged over 9 out of 10 on all aspects.