Children attending special schools in South Gloucestershire and Bristol enjoyed a day of music-making thanks to South Gloucestershire Council’s Music and Arts Service and the support of the Bristol Aztec Rotary Club.
The ‘Music Rules OK’ event was held at Little Stoke Primary School on Thursday 6th October and brought together children aged 10-15 years old with a range of learning needs.
Students took part in activities included DJ mixing, Chinese dragon music, drumming, exploring the Apple Mac music software ‘GarageBand’ and moving and creating music with a ‘skoog’, a new type of instrument designed specifically for special needs music and music education.
South Gloucestershire Council teaching and learning adviser for music Christine Wright said:
“This was a very special day for students and staff. There is a great sense of camaraderie in making music and learning new skills. The whole place was abuzz with a cacophony of music and happy faces and the disco after lunch provided opportunities to sing and dance along to the latest pop music and recharge batteries for the afternoon session. We are very grateful to Rotary for sponsoring the workshops and the gift of a hat and balloon as a reminder of this wonderful day.”
The event was sponsored by Bristol Aztec Rotary Club, whose President Sue Bamber-Powell said:
“The Club is delighted to support this special music day. This is the fifth year we have sponsored the event and fundraising for it is our main activity for the year. It is a privilege to see and hear so many young people achieving so much musically in such a short time. For us music really rules OK!”
The day was supported by students from Bradley Stoke Community School and Patchway Community College, including twins Paris and Samantha Kodola. Paris said:
“The day has increased my understanding of children with complex needs and has made me think of a career in care.”
Margaret Qoura of Bristol Aztec Rotary sent The Post the following account of the day:
On Thursday 6th October, children from nearby schools for children with special needs: Claremont, Briarwood, Kingsweston, Woodstock, Warmley Park, Culverhill and New Siblands began to arrive at Little Stoke Primary School for Music Rules Ok, a music day organised by South Gloucestershire Music Service under the auspices of the music adviser Christine Wright, and sponsored by the Rotary Club of Bristol Aztec.
The children came in quietly and with an air of suppressed excitement and expectation. Their excitement was justified for they were entering a world of musical magic, consisting of richly coloured Chinese Dragons; throbbing rhythmical drumbeats; a soft huggable skoog which made soft music as it was pressed or cuddled; a fabulous soundbeam which made a variety of sounds as pads were pressed and which blended to form enchanting landscapes of sound such as under the sea; innovative Apple Mac garage band programmes which enabled the children to experience the joy of composing their own music and in a further workshop take on the role of a DJ with the opportunity to scratch, mix and record their own music.
There was magic too for the adults who were able to witness the remarkable levels of concentration in the participants who became totally absorbed in their activities. There were little milestones achieved for some of the children, for example the child who came in frightened of the noise and opted initially to withdraw from the activities but who ended up with a smile of wonder on his face as he realised he too could make music as he pressed the soundbeam pad. There was joy as Josh from Bradley Stoke Community College played the piano for the assembled children during the lunch hour and a profoundly deaf child could experience the vibrations as they passed through the piano.
Quotes from some of those present included;
“It makes you realise how music allows a level of participation from everyone that I think no other activity could.”
“The joy of the occasion was fantastic.”
“I couldn’t believe how everyone could join in.”
The day was a wonderful chance for the children to use music making facilities and enjoy great social togetherness. At the end of the day the children joined together to parade the richly coloured Chinese Dragons to the sound of the Chinese drum and they left with happy memories of when music ruled the day.
South Gloucestershire Council’s Music Service provides instrumental teaching and curriculum support for schools, performance activities for young musicians at area music centres and serves as a source of information and advice for schools and the wider community.
Live music visits are offered to schools twice a year and a primary schools carol service also takes place at Clifton Cathedral each year. The next major event is a concert of British Music given by the Youth Wind Orchestra conducted by the Service’s new Music and Arts Strategy Manager, Richard Jones, on Saturday 29th October at the Olympus Theatre, Filton College.