Ahoy me hearties! There was a mighty roar coming from the bay of Swansea on the 19th of June, as hundreds of schoolchildren performed with pBuzz at the Brangwyn Hall.
Swansea Music Service organised the nautical-themed Buzzalong Bonanza 2023 to bring together local schools. The Buzzalong Bonanza would celebrate the musical achievements of children aged seven and eight across the region, who have learned to play pBuzz - the beginner brass instrument from Warwick Music - in the classroom.
Swansea has taken a pioneering approach to the National Plan for Music Education in Wales. Following the delivery of their pBuzzes, Swansea Music Service decided that the most effective way to deliver beginner music lessons was to work in partnership with classroom teachers. Many of these teachers had little or no musical experience.
This has culminated in a series of concerts for children in the region, ending with the Buzzalong event at the Brangwyn Hall on June 19th. The concerts were a chance for hundreds of children and their teachers to perform together and share their progress with schools across the region….along with some very special guests!
Swansea personality Kevin Johns led a chase across the city, searching for treasure…all whilst keeping an eye out for the pesky Captain Jac (that’s the Welsh spelling for fans of potential spelling mistakes), played by the swashbuckling Stefan Pejic. With the help of Pirate pBuzz (Chris Fower on behalf of Warwick Music Group) and Louise Miles from Swansea Music Service, kids and teachers were delighted by an interactive performance. Anthony Evans provided BSL to ensure the event could be enjoyed by everyone present at the venue. The pBuzz orchestrated was backed by an all-star big band, with Geoffrey Pearce conducting.
With so many schools attending, two separate sessions were needed. Both filled the vast Brangwyn Hall with hundreds of children, hundreds of pBuzz instruments and an almighty sound! The children worked their way through four fun songs that have been part of their pBuzz journey in the last school year: I Feel Good by James Brown, Shotgun by George Ezra, We Will Rock You by Queen and The Sailor’s Hornpipe.
Have a listen to the pBuzz orchestra playing along to George Ezra's smash hit, Shotgun:
Teachers and children alike had a fantastic time at the event. Theresa Hacche, a teacher at St Joseph's RC Cathedral Primary School, said "We've had an amazing time today! What an experience for these children who are beginning their musical journey. To play in such a beautiful hall and to listen to professional musicians, it's a fantastic opportunity for them. We've loved using pBuzz this year and look forward to every session!"
Pupils from Penllergaer Primary School even brought their own pBuzz to carry on their learning at home. "I loved it when the band played Under The Sea," said one budding brass player. "My favourite was the music when Captain Jack was dancing," said another, referring to the big band's version of the Pirates of the Caribbean theme.
Next year, ten schools from the Swansea area will lead a pilot scheme to make the jump from pBuzz to pTrumpet and pBone. Events like the Buzzalong Bonanza, along with the tireless work of Swansea Music, Warwick Music Group, classroom teachers and, of course, the children of Swansea, could help to create a golden generation of musicians across South Wales. If that isn't worth a mighty "argh!", we don't know what is!
Want to find out more about how we delivered musical instruments to children across Wales? Of course you do! Read our Wales case study.