The Educational Programme of the London Festival of Chamber Music takes chamber music to schools, giving to children the gift of classical music and building tomorrow's audience 

Educational programme - English String Quartet - London Festival of Chamber Music
We have worked both in primary and secondary schools, but we now concentrate on primary schools in the state funded sector because:
  • as recent reports (Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, July 2000 and 1997;  Gulbenkian Foundation, 1999) have shown, if children do not receive music education when at primary school, there is a small and reducing likelihood that after the age of 11 they will either play an instrument or will ever step inside a classical concert venue; 
  • at primary school age music has clear and undisputed benefits far beyond being able to appreciate or perform a piece of music:  it develops social skills of teamwork and co-operation, as well as self-discipline and self-esteem, and, as research in the USA, Hungary and Scandinavian countries has pointed out, it contributes to improving numeracy and literacy.
  • state funded primary schools have extremely limited resources for music in general and virtually ignore chamber music.
A long way to go!The schools are given a special programme of about an hour by the English String Quartet, resident ensemble at the Festival.  The musicians introduce the instruments and perform music chosen from the mainstream string quartet repertoire of three centuries, as well as short pieces written especially for the occasion.  The purpose of the programme is to make the children interested in the sound of the instruments and in music written by composers from various ages and countries, as well as to stimulate their awareness of the basic elements of chamber music: who plays the “tune”, how this passes from instrument to instrument, how the performers interact among themselves and with the listeners.  Part of the programme is interactive, and as many children as possible are invited to put their hands, for the first time in their life, on string instruments brought by the Quartet.

English String Quartet Educational ProgrammeIt is obviously up to the Head Teacher of each school to decide which classes should participate, but we stress that the programme is suitable to primary schoolchildren of any age.   In the 8 schools which we visited last year the number of participating children was from a minimum of 100 to a maximum of 400, with a total of over 2000 children. 

Quotes from the letters of two of the schools visited last year by the English String Quartet:

    "Thank you so much for an entertaining and extremely appropriate performance at our school.  I say appropriate because quite often we have visitors who find it very difficult to pitch what they want to get across at the children's level and so retain their interest for the whole session.  The staff and I were most impressed at your skill in including so many children in a meaningful way in the performance.  The children were delighted and talked about your visit for days afterwards."
    English String Quartet - Educational Programme"We particularly enjoyed the variety of pieces selected and how our pupils were challenged to listen for various aspects of both playing techniques and the pieces themselves.  It was also great for some of those children who do not yet learn an instrument to be given the opportunity to 'have a go'."
This year we are expanding our educational programme to 16 schools, 2 each in the Boroughs of Barnet, Brent, Camden, Enfield, Haringey, Lewisham, Merton and Southwark.  Head Teachers of primary schools (state funded) in these boroughs who would like to enquire about the possibility of the English String Quartet coming to your school, are welcome to contact us

English String Quartet - Educational Programme


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