Music Outreach – the show must go on!

Community News |

We are delighted that this year a record-breaking 200 children from primary schools across Oxford were able to take part in an annual music workshop run by the Dragon in conjunction with Oxford Philharmonic.

Founded in 2013 by the Dragon and Oxford Philharmonic, this outreach programme brings together young children from across the city for a day of music making. It aims to encourage a love of music in young people, and be accessible to all – some of the children involved are already learning instruments, whereas for many others it offers their first-ever encounter with live music.

Despite not being able to get all the children together to use the Dragon’s Music facilities due to the restrictions of the pandemic, the team were determined to find another way to continue the initiative and help address the limited access children have had to live music this year. Together they conceived the idea of an online group performance; a series of individual recorded sessions with small group workshops held at each of the primary schools involved combined into a wonderful music video.

The instrumental family selected for the workshops changes every year, and 2021 was all about Strings. The outreach team wanted a theme that was fun and uplifting, and so chose Carnival and Circus and called the programme Stringmasters! The remote workshops allowed them to double the number of children involved in the initiative this year and the music professionals were able to teach over 200 children to play ‘This is Me’ from the hit musical The Greatest Showman and Sabre Dance by Khachaturian, in a matter of hours! The schools involved were Orchard Meadow, Pegasus, Wolvercote Primary, St Barnabas’ Primary, St Philip and James’, West Oxford Primary, St Andrew’s Primary, Windmill School and The Dragon.

The final audio pieces were then layered together by the Dragon’s talented visiting music teacher, Jonny Race, and accompanied by a visual montage of photos from the workshops and artwork by the children.

David Haenlein of the Oxford Philharmonic is thrilled with the result: ‘The process of working with 200 children at our 9 Stringmasters schools was the most important and rewarding aspect of this project. However, we wanted to make a video to showcase the recordings and to celebrate the full range of string instruments which the children would usually see and hear at the traditional DragonPhil workshops.’

David Stuart who runs Music Outreach at the Dragon is also delighted with the project: ‘An incredible achievement in very challenging times, and a reminder that with inspiration, determination and collaboration anything is possible! A huge thanks to the team from the Oxford Philharmonic, the Dragon music department and all of the children and schools involved.’

We hope you enjoy watching the film.