Sheffield musicians take school students on exciting musical journey

A classic work by composer Schubert has been inspiring school students in Sheffield and beyond to get singing and creating music.

Wednesday, 20th February 2019, 5:16 pm
Updated Wednesday, 20th February 2019, 5:22 pm
Sheffield students working with Christopher Glynn on the Schubert in Schools project

The jumping-off point for the Music in the Round Schubert in Schools project was Schubert’s Winterreise song cycle.

For this project the song cycle was called Winter Journeys, based on a translation of Schubert’s song cycles initially commissioned by classical pianist Chris Glynn, who is artistic director of the Ryedale Festival in North Yorkshire.

He has also been involved in the project.

Fraser said the translations are meant to be easily understood by a modern audience, adding: “These hit you right between the shoulder blades.”

Music in the Round singer in residence, Roderick Williams, had been working on recording them.

Fraser said: “We thought, ‘what an amazing vehicle for us to continue our ongoing mission of bringing music and people together and opening it up for people to work together’.

“We’ve been taking Schubert as a starting point and enabling students to compose their own creative responses in whatever form, style or genre they like.”

Pupils at Park Academy and Tapton School in Sheffield took part and spent a day developing their ideas at Victoria Hall.

Elsewhere, school students from Barking in East London have been “spitting bars” (rapping) on a song they wrote and there was a performance by school students at Cast in Doncaster.

Fraser said: “25 lieder singers who are 12 years old have learnt it off by heart and come up with their own ideas about what it means to be lost in the snow in this voyage through grief and desolation.”

The group worked with Roderick Williams, who helped them decide how to get movement into their performance and take it to a whole new level.

Fraser said: “Cast was amazing. It was great to see the young people singing on stage and owning it.

“They were every bit professional musicians. The work they must have put into it in class really showed. 

“They really appreciated the opportunity and grasped it and you could see how much they got from it.” 

The project has also involved Sheffield Music Hub, which has an aim of getting secondary school children singing. Fraser said: “In their teenage years, young people often make a choice not to continue to do that.”

Fraser and his team went about fundraising and created teaching packs for teachers to work with their students before coming together with musicians to help their develop their ideas.

Roderick and Chris both recorded video sessions for use in schools and also travelled to work with the schools in person.

Teachers and students alike were enthused by the project. Fraser said: “We were so heartened by the response this has had and we’ve proven that it works. We are going to go on to do more of it but on a grander scale.

“We have been in all four towns in South Yorkshire, talking about how whole class singing and whole group composition at the beginning of secondary school could be more embedded in schools.

“We could show how young people are better able to be creative and have musical opportunities that could open doors for them.”

Learn more about the project at