Brass festival to enrich children’s lives throughout the year

Youngsters at Annfield Plain Junior School try out new techniques with support from Durham Music Service.

With the new school year now in full swing, youngsters have embarked on a potentially life-changing musical adventure.

Children at Annfield Plain Junior School are receiving a year of brass tuition as part of the legacy of this year’s Durham BRASS festival.

Organised by Durham County Council, the ten-day musical extravaganza was enjoyed by more than 40,000 people in July, with an action-packed programme of concerts and parties taking place across the county.

This included concerts and workshops at 82 schools, where more than 16,000 children were treated to energetic performances from street bands from all over the world.

To build upon the excitement surrounding the school visits, Durham Music Service, working in partnership with the council, will deliver a year of tuition at Annfield Plain Junior School.

Over the next three terms, year five pupils will be taught the skills and techniques needed to be a brass musician using pBone plastic trumpets and trombones, which have been provided to the school for free. The lessons will culminate in a concert at next year’s Durham BRASS festival, while extra-curricular rehearsals and small group sessions will ensure the benefits last a lot longer.

At a special workshop to launch the programme on the last day of the summer term, the children were given a brief introduction on how to play the instruments by Backchat Brass, one of the talented street bands performing at the festival. The band delighted the youngsters with their interpretation of hit pop songs and spoke of the difference playing a musical instrument from a young age has made to their lives.

Trombonist Tom l’Anson said: “I have been lucky enough to play the trombone from a young age. So many opportunities open up to you when you play a musical instrument and you get to meet people from so many different backgrounds.

“Music truly is a universal language that has taken me all over the world and led to many amazing experiences.”

Cllr Joy Allen, Cabinet member for transformation, tourism and culture at Durham County Council, said: “I was lucky enough to attend some of the school concerts during this year’s festival and it was wonderful to see the children so engaged and excited not only about brass music, but about other cultures and traditions.

“The team at Durham Music Service is so talented and I’m really looking forward to following the children’s journey over the next year.”

Michael Summers, manager of Durham Music Service, said: “We are thrilled to working with youngsters at Annfield Plain Junior School on such an exciting project.

“Having the opportunity to perform at an internationally renowned music festival like Durham BRASS will be such an amazing experience for these children. We are passionate about the benefits music brings to young people and can’t wait to see what these lessons lead to.”

Music and singing are already an integral part of the curriculum at Annfield Plain Junior School. The children have been learning to play the ukulele as well as brass instruments and showcase their talents at the annual singing picnic.

Headteacher Inez Burgess said: “Learning to play an instrument helps our pupils to build confidence, improve memory, feel a sense of achievement and work as a team. Just as important as that, whilst they are learning and performing, they have fun. Music, in all its forms, improves wellbeing.

“To have the opportunity to be a part of Durham BRASS Festival and to work with Durham Music Service adds another dimension to our pupil’s musical journey.

“For pupils to become music makers alongside professional musicians is both exciting and inspiring; it may even encourage pupils to choose this as a career path. It is most definitely going to be a fun-filled year.”

To find out more about Durham Music Service visit www.durhammusic.org.uk/durham-music-service1

For more information about Durham BRASS, visit www.brassfestival.co.uk or follow ‘Brass International Festival’ on Facebook or @DurhamBRASS on Twitter and Instagram for the latest news.

BRASS is one of an unprecedented number of cultural events taking place in County Durham in 2019. To find out what else is going on and how to get involved in the #Durham19 campaign, visit www.thisisdurham.com/19

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