Behind the lines – local children get to know Ravel

Behind The Lines Early Years Workshop 07.12.13Last Saturday, Westminster Music Library played host to more exciting and successful Behind the Lines* workshops for Early Years and Primary Age children.  Led by the talented musicians of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, 27 lively children from 2 year olds to 10 year olds took part in the workshop based on the music of Maurice Ravel; a Romantic, French composer who was particularly influenced by early composers such as François Couperin.

After a few fun games to wake up our bodies and an introduction to the cello, violin, flute and trumpet, the children in the Early Years workshop started creating music to represent animals of the jungle; elephants, monkeys, and there were even some worms!  Some of the children may even have a future career in conducting as they took on the role as music leader, instructing everyone what to play and on which instruments!

The children in the Primary Age workshop were extra enthusiastic and excited about the wide range of interesting instruments which included a marimba, African drums, and lots of other percussion – some even brought their own instrument.  As an older group, the children were able to discuss composers and different genres of music, looking at different types of scores taken from the Music Library shelves. 

They were then introduced to Ravel’s Fugue from Le Tombeau de Couperin, excellently demonstrated by the RPO musicians.  This piece is a six movement piano suite written between 1914 and 1917, each movement in the style of a Baroque movement.  Ravel then orchestrated the suite in 1919 and dedicated each movement to a friend who had died in WW1.  Taking the theme from the second movement ‘Fugue’, the children then set off to creating variations on Ravel’s music, splitting into groups of keyboard and percussive instruments.  At the end of the session there was a show-stopping performance, with excellent solos from some of the children, singing from the whole group, and lots of fun had by all!

Behind The Lines Primary Age Workshop 07.12.13

Many of the children in the workshops on Saturday demonstrated their skills, talent, and knowledge of music, which was very impressive to see and hear; from improvising to knowledge of composers, to describing different styles of music.  These workshops are an excellent opportunity for children and adults to explore, exhibit, and develop their knowledge of music further, as well as learning about the musical output of some great composers of the 20th Century as a result of World War I.

There are lots more workshops to come, check out our website: to find out more.

Behind the Lines: The music and composers of the First World War*Behind the Lines is a year-long programme of participatory events run by Westminster Music Library in partnership with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, to encourage local communities from across Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea to engage with the Library and its collections. The programme uses the centenary of the First World War as inspiration for a series of interactive workshops and creative projects designed for adult, family and school participants.



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