Case study: Working with Music Education Hubs creates new musical experiences for all ages

Jacky Fisher, chair of member group Djanogly Community Orchestra, explains how trying something new and working with their local local Music Education Hub has brought musical enjoyment to people of all ages in the community.

Background

Djanogly Community Orchestra was founded 31 years ago, based at the Djanogly City Academy. Sir Harry Djanogly, who had very successfully run a textile business in Nottingham, supported the founding of the orchestra as well as many educational institutions in Nottingham. Originally the orchestra was set up to include pupils from the Academy, though few stuck with it. 

However Djangoly Community Orchestra has come to thrive as an amateur orchestra in Nottingham. There are no auditions but potential members are encouraged to attend four rehearsals, and then both sides can decide whether it is the best orchestra for them. We have now managed to re-establish working with pupils of the school, and have two sessions a year when pupils play alongside members of the orchestra with suitably adapted music.

Challenge

We were approached by the CEO of the Nottingham Music Hub, Ian Burton, who had previously played the horn in the orchestra. He asked if the orchestra would be prepared to support pupils from Nottingham City schools, by taking part in two concerts with them in the Nottingham Albert Hall. As roughly half the orchestra members are working, (the other half are retired), it was not going to be possible to do this during school hours, so discussions took place to find a solution to this.

What we did

The music hub and the orchestra worked out that we could arrange sessions for a Monday and Tuesday evening (Monday is the normal orchestra rehearsal day). We would rehearse from 6pm, with the concert at 7pm on both days. A very few orchestra members did not wish to take part, and a few could not make a Tuesday evening, but there was still a very viable orchestra for both occasions. 

There were large numbers of children, most of them aged 8-11, who had not played their instruments for very long. They were in a large group, playing at ground level in front of the stage, with teachers involved as well. There was also the Hub’s intermediate orchestra, mostly aged 11-15, who played as a complete orchestra, sharing the stage with the Djanogly Orchestra. All groups played various pieces adapted to the required level, some together, and some on their own.

Results

The sense of commitment from the players and the appreciation of the parents was amazing. It would have been the first time many of the children had ever played in a large group, and also listened to any pieces played by an adult orchestra. Djanogly players were thrilled by the success of the concerts, and the experience we had created for the children.

What we learned

The orchestra members proved more adaptable and willing to change their normal routine than I had anticipated. It certainly shows that it is worth giving this kind of cooperation a go. The orchestra members have also said how much they appreciated being able to give their time and enthusiasm to help inspire a large group of inner-city children. 

The Music Hub have said how successful it was from their point of view, and expressed great appreciation for us engaging with them. We will certainly be willing to consider a similar kind of involvement again in the future.


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