On Friday the 29th of September 2023, children at Beck Primary School in Shiregreen, Sheffield joined the thousands of other pupils across nine inner-city schools who have experienced playing a brass instrument. The event was live-streamed to friends and family, with parents, teachers, and even BBC Look North reporters in attendance.
Led by Andy, Helen Minshall from Brass Bands England, Beck Primary music teacher Becky Stroud, and Sheffield Music Academy, children worked their way through a number of songs. Supported by musicians from Sheffield Music Academy and Oughtibridge Brass Band, children performed the likes of Shotgun by George Ezra, The Wellerman Song, and more. Cornet players tackled the tricky Mamma Mia and turned it into a triumph, backed by their fellow students singing along.
There was also a rousing performance of Ay Caramba, an Out of the Ark tune from Sparkyard, arranged especially for the occasion by John Lyon, a Music Leader at Sheffield Music Hub.
You can check out the live stream version of the event in this video from Harmony Works:
Helen Minshall, Youth Development Brass Specialist at Brass Bands England, was delighted to see so many young people getting involved. “It has been absolutely fantastic. It's been non-stop, full of life, full of music. Every school we've visited has had between 30 and 60, sometimes up to 90 instrumentalists playing everything from pBuzzes to cornets and trumpets.”
Helen was encouraged to see developing brass players…including some who had only just picked up their first instrument! “The cornet players are doing really, really well,” she said, “And some of the kids we've been working with this week have only had two lessons.”
Coordinating events across the city of Sheffield has required a huge amount of effort and a great deal of collaboration between the partners of the newly formed Harmony Works. Gillian Hume, manager for Sheffield Music Hub, is excited to be working with organisations across Sheffield and beyond.
“It's brilliant fun because each partner brings its own unique character and identity,” says Gillian, “And it's wonderful to draw all those experiences together so that the children get the best out of it. It’s a really broad spectrum of what people have to offer. It's been great working with our partners.”
Along with some fantastic songs from Out of the Ark, and the ever-popular Shotgun by George Ezra, the event at Beck Primary also showed Gillian that some songs remain timeless.
“The thing that struck me was that I didn't realise kids knew Sweet Caroline,” says Gillian, “And at every school, they have spontaneously started singing it, and that's been a real eye-opener. That such an iconic, classic song from decades ago is a real hit with today's kids, I think that speaks volumes for the power of music.”
The Proms in the Playground project across Sheffield marks the beginning of the Harmony Works group as an officially-recognised charity, and judging by the smiles on the faces of kids, parents, musicians, and teachers, Sheffield is a harmonious place to be for the next generation of music-makers.
Adam is the Content Manager at pBone Music. This should mean that he’s the ideal person to write about himself, but he finds boasting in the third person a little awkward. He honed his word wizardry with a degree in English Language and Literature at the University of Leeds. He has since written copy for clients and businesses across the land, from awards to something beginning with “z”. He also spent a number of years as a musician. He has written pop songs and even jingles for kids, performed more first dances at weddings than you could shake a pBuzz at, and once played a gig for a pie company at The Etihad Stadium in Manchester. When he’s not reminiscing about those good old days, you might find Adam enjoying the football (although as an Everton fan, that can be difficult). He also loves spending time with his partner, Jen, and his family and friends, and sincerely hopes they feel the same way.