Tower Hamlets Arts and Music Education Service and Lansbury Lawrence Primary School

Year 2 of the Programme

We hosted an all-staff training day here at Wigmore Hall in September. The day focused on learning new skills and developing ideas for creative music making, providing time for teachers from each year to plan together, with music leaders on hand to support. Using inspiration and ideas from the day, each year group of teachers planned a music project as part of their curriculum. Themed learning, where topics are explored in a cross-curricular way, is embedded in this school, and this day allowed the school to include music in their creative curriculum.

We have worked with each year group to deliver their ideas. In Reception and Nursery classes (age 3-5), we have led bespoke music-making workshops relevant to the pupils’ needs (including Special Eductional Needs and Disabilities). The Year 1 pupils (age 5-6) visited Mudchute Farm and created a farmyard piece with recorded sounds from the farm, as well as a graphic 3D score from which they performed the piece. Year 2 (age 6-7) visited the Cutty Sark in March, and wrote songs in response to life at sea, focusing on what emotions the sailors might feel as they set sail.

Percussionists O Duo led a workshop with the Year 3 pupils (age 7-8), creating pieces of music linked to the students’ Iron Man topic. We worked alongside InspireWorks and the Year 4 pupils (age 8-9) on an African drumming workshop, to link with their topic of Ghana. Each group performed their compositions to the rest of the school. Another local Tower Hamlets school also took part in the African drumming workshop, as their curriculum topic aligned with Lansbury Lawrence and this offered the schools the chance to share.

The school wanted to find a way to create their own end of year show for Year 6 (age 10-11), instead of purchasing a set product. Through our partnership, the school worked with a music leader to create a new opera, working with the Year 5 classes (age 9-10) to write the text and music, and with the Year 6 students to bring it to life on stage. The music leader worked with the art and drama teachers and an opera design consultant, ensuring that the production involved students from across the school in creating the set, props, costumes and music. We gave Year 5 complete creative freedom on the topic of the opera, and their overwhelming response was that the opera should explore the themes of racism, inequality and the will to power.

The finished opera Recharged focused on the story of a society in which power or ‘charge’ is unequally distributed across a kingdom of robots, with the words coming from writing and drama activities held over the year with the children.

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