Posts Tagged ‘Mars’

As part of Westminster Music Library’s Behind the Lines programme, we are delivering no less than six creative projects in schools all over Westminster and the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea. The second of these projects took place last week, with the final performance on Friday 28th February. Working with a group of pupils aged 7-8 from Westminster’s St Matthew’s C.E. Primary School, workshop leader Tim Steiner and three musicians from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) explored the works of English composer Gustav Holst, focusing on the famous Planet Suite, which produced lots of inspiration and ideas for themes from outer space. Planets

The group visited Westminster Music Library for an introductory session, where the pupils were able to discover the vast selection of books and music scores on the shelves. Creativity really took hold once we moved into the school itself, with stimulating workshops using a combination of instruments such as “djembes”, to play the sinister rhythm from Mars, and other percussion instruments to support the RPO musicians while they played the Jupiter theme. aliens[2]

The final performance was a fantastic showcase of all the music everyone had come up with, including this song devised by our young participants:

It’s gloomy and it’s gloopy
And it’s shiny and it’s scary
The aliens are powerful
They’re glowing and they’re hairy

The creepy crawlies are so sad
They’re black green brown and blue
But sometimes they are happy
Cos they’re just like me and you

On Saturday we went on an amazing journey to outer space!  The first Behind The Lines workshop of 2014 was the most jam-packed in the series so far as Westminster Music Library transformed into a spaceship which travelled to Mars and Jupiter! 

 As you could probably guess, the musical theme for these workshops was The Planets; a famous suite of orchestral music in seven movements composed by Gustav Holst during the First World War.  Despite his German-sounding name, this composer was in fact English and composed other famous music such as I Vow To Thee My Country and In The Bleak Midwinter.

 With The Planets in mind, the early years workshop was very exciting as the group created a robot who would go travelling into space.  With his square head, triangular body, tentacles and squiggly legs, he was guided into space after a huge countdown and blast-off, all animated with loud, exciting music.  His piercing red eyes were represented by a trumpet and there was a violin and bassoon to play the role of other body parts.  As the robot travelled into space and started his landing, we could hear the famous theme from the first movement Mars.  A loud trumpet siren commanded everyone to go out on a space walk, floating over the surface of mars and then after an exhausting journey it was time for everyone to fall asleep. The workshop was lively and action packed so everyone deserved a snooze by the end of the space expedition!

 The second workshop of the day was also based on Holst’s Planets, after an energetic warm up.  This group of older children had a more informative lesson, learning about Holst, his life, and his music.  They were then introduced to the project theme and learned the rhythm of the catchy Mars motif by tapping and clapping it out.  There was lots of musical talent in this group; from violinists and cellists, to guitarists and trumpeters.  So with these instruments the group split off into 3 – strings, brass, and percussion.  The focus then turned to another movement of the suite; Jupiter.  This movement has quite a few recognisable themes but the group focused on just one.  After splitting into teams again to play the melody, a counter-melody, and a rhythm section working on different parts, the final performance was a fantastic showcase of all the music everyone had come up with. Holst - Primary Years Performance


Well done to everyone who was involved in these workshops – they were a great success and lots of fun!  We are thoroughly looking forward to the next workshops in the series for children at the end of March which will take a look at the music of Ralph Vaughan Williams; another hugely successful English composer from the first half of the 20th century.