Creativity has been put at the heart of a special music residency across five East Lothian primary schools, led by The Benedetti Foundation.

It was really good because I saw and heard instruments I had never heard of before!

The work was part of a joint East Lothian Council and Midlothian Council Residency that saw the Foundation visit nine schools over three days, as well as delivering a professional learning session for classroom primary teachers. The Foundation will also return in May 2023 for a Strings Day for primary-age string musicians.

The Foundation was established in 2019 by inspirational Scottish violinist and dedicated music advocate Nicola Benedetti. It delivers transformative experiences through mass music education and aims to ensure equal access to music participation and appreciation for all. 

On Monday 31 October and Tuesday 1 November pupils from Dunbar, Law, St Gabriel’s RC, Sanderson’s Wynd and Pinkie St Peter’s primary schools enjoyed a visit from Benedetti Foundation Tutors Calum Huggan and Lucy Drever and Ambassador Freya Ruuskanen. Pupils were immediately immersed in the interactive workshops, joining in with body percussion, learning new songs and enjoying live performances from the visiting musicians. 

A lifelong love of music

Jonathan Gawn, Team Manager with East Lothian Council’s Music Service, said: “Our main aim is to inspire pupils through music, build pupil’s creative confidence and encourage a lifelong love of music. These sessions, which involved almost a thousand pupils from East Lothian schools, have definitely inspired our young people and this visit from the Foundation is something I’m sure they’ll remember for years to come. It was absolute pleasure to be able to join them at each session.”

Aileen Kelly, Principal Teacher Inclusion, Equity and Support, at Dunbar Primary School commented: “Having The Benedetti Foundation visit our school was a real joy. They provided fun and inspiration for the children on a Monday morning and really gave everyone's mood a lift. The class teachers were all really impressed.

“Being able to participate in a staff development session with the team was just as fun and inspirational. It was a great reminder of the value of bringing music into the classroom as part of everyday learning and life. As a non-specialist, I felt empowered to lead fun music lessons with greater confidence and with the understanding of how it can develop a multitude of skills including listening, focus, memory, teamwork and confidence. I can't wait to try the ideas out with the groups of children I work with.”

Really creative

Feedback from East Lothian pupils who attended the sessions was very positive, with Dunbar Primary School P6 pupil Murray saying “The body percussion was interesting – I never thought you could do music like that” while his classmate Rhuari added: “It was really good because I saw and heard instruments I had never heard of before!”

Lucy Drever, The Benedetti Foundation tutor added: “It was such a joy to visit primary schools across East Lothian and Midlothian as part of the Foundation’s Residency Sessions. The young people were really creative, they had such powerful ideas as to why we listen to music and Calum and I had so much fun making music with them. We hope they enjoyed it as much as we did.”

Published: Thursday, 1st December 2022