Brass Bands England’s Proms In The Playground initiative has been giving many schools the opportunity to round off the school year on a positive note. Dozens of schools have taken part in the national programme, which runs 5 - 23 July, and many media outlets have also covered the story, giving a platform to both brass bands and the benefits of youth music activity.
As well as marking a return for live music, the initiative aims to inspire children to begin playing a brass instrument, and to support bands by finding the next generation of musicians.
Covering the story in Friday’s BBC Radio 4 World At One programme (40 mins in), presenter Jonny Dymond said: “For many kids last year the end of school was a pretty miserable affair, devoid of the kind of events that might make for lasting memories. This year it will be very different."
The programme featured music from a Kearsley Youth Band Proms In The Playground performance at Kearsley West Primary School in Bolton, along with an interview with BBE Brass Foundations youth specialist Helen Minshall.
"There's nothing like a brass band!" Helen told BBC listeners. "It was like Glastonbury this morning at our first school. The children were all on the field, and they got up to dance at one point! They all came out in their separate bubbles and were all able to join the show together."
The initiative has also featured in a number of popular publications including the iNews paper and School House magazine. I paper journalist, Will Hazell, said of the project: “With the coronavirus, music rooms and performance spaces have been eerily silent, hushed by social distancing restrictions. But the silence is finally coming to an end. Communities across the country will explode into glorious sound emanating from some unconventional concert venues – our school playgrounds.”
It is anticipated that up to 100 performances will take place over all, with thousands of children having benefited from the chance to experience a live musical performance. Some of those children, who don't play instruments, won’t have had the chance to hear live music before.
One school which is participating is Cherry Tree Primary School in Watford, Hertfordshire. The school’s deputy head Emma Hill says Covid has denied children many of the communal experiences that normally punctuate the year. “We haven’t even been able to have assemblies, which would be when you come together as a community… children haven’t been able to go on school trips, which is really sad.” Proms in the Playground will provide the school with “our one big event that we’ll have this year.”
With the success of this year’s project, Brass Bands England plan to run the initiative again in July 2022. Any bands, schools or music hubs needing support to organise an event should get in touch with the BBE team at email@example.com.
You can follow progress on Proms In The Playground and share your own performances on social media with the hashtag #PromsInThePlayground. To find out more about the initiative please visit our Proms In The Playground page.