Jamie Hutchinson

For primary school children in Oxfordshire, music education just got a little bit more fun.

Oxford Philharmonic – which regularly runs music projects in schools around the county – has launched a six-week video series of creative and innovative music-making for teachers and parents to use in school or at home.

Each video focuses on a different instrument – videos available so far include violin, flute, viola, harp and percussion – and explore rhythm, pitch, creating sound effects from everyday objects, and much more, through a range of music-making activities and related projects. 

Eleven videos are planned in total, and they will continue to be available on the orchestra’s YouTube channel indefinitely.

The OP at Home series has been curated by Jamie Hutchinson, a Sub-Principal 2nd Violin with the orchestra, and a regular participant in the orchestra’s education initiatives. 

Anxious to find out what would work best for schools, Jamie phoned around and the feedback enabled her to come up with some interesting, entertaining and varied content that would be both fun and educational for the children.

Tony Robb

“A lot of the videos include links to downloadable activities,” Jamie explains. “So in my episode there’s downloadable information about Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and the poems that he put with those. Tony Robb, our principal flute, has a downloadable quiz on his episode. 

Like many performers, Jamie and her fellow musicians are finding this new remote way of working something of a challenge.

“We’re all working very much out of our comfort zone in making these videos,” she laughs. 

“Being professional musicians, we’re very spoilt because usually we make videos and recordings with the best sound and video engineers in the country. We’re so used to working to these really high standards, so it really is interesting and challenging getting used to doing this on our own at home!”

Education work has always been an important part of Oxford Philharmonic’s mission, and a busy summer term beckoned before the pandemic struck. 

The orchestra runs regular projects at primary schools in Blackbird Leys as well as an annual week-long residential project at the Mulberry Bush School in Standlake and workshop days at Dragon School involving a hundred children from around the county.

Is that what brought the project about? “It’s hard to think of ways to get children engaging with their classroom music teachers virtually,” Jamie says. “Classroom teachers are amazing, but any outside help is quite welcome, I think.”

Bryony – viola

“And as we spend several weeks every year in schools around Oxfordshire, which our musicians really enjoy, we were really missing those schools and children.

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It’s also a welcome distraction from the fact that this should have been an exceptionally busy concert season for the Oxford Philharmonic.

“I think it was going to be our busiest ever summer season,” says Jamie. “We were meant to have our Carnegie Hall debut on May 4, but that has been postponed until June 2021, so it’s nice to feel that we’re doing something productive at a time when we’ve had all these cancellations and postponements.

Jules – percussion

“Every musician who’s contributed has said they’ve really enjoyed it and felt it’s a good way to feel they’re still connecting with an audience.”

To find out more about the OP at Home series and other Oxford Philharmonic projects, visit www.oxfordphil.com or click on the OP at Home banner at the top of our website.

NICOLA LISLE

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