National Centre for Early Music

[Skip navigation]
Navigation Menu

Robbers, Rebels and Royals schools workshops - Thursday 21 May 2015


Enjoying performances from Belinda, May and Magnus

South Cave CE Primary pupils watching Joglaresa

Learning medieval songs with new actions

Delighting in the body percussion challenge

Joglaresa answering young people's questions
As part of the 2015 Beverley Early Music Festival education programme, exuberant and virtuosic early music ensemble, Joglaresa, delivered interactive music workshops tailored to Upper Key Stage 2 pupils. 60 children from Beverley Minster Primary and 58 from South Cave CE Primary, all in Year 5, were involved in these workshops, which centred on the Magna Carta as a theme, "celebrating 800 years of justice and civil liberties" and drew on repertoire spanning that whole period, from medieval songs dating back to 1215, through to music of the 1960s civil rights movement in America. Young people were treated to performances from Joglaresa's director Belinda Sykes and musicians May Robertson and Magnus Mehta, involving voice, recorder, bagpipes, fidel, and a variety of percussion instruments. Pupils were also taught to sing several of Joglaresa's arrangements and to perform traditional drum patterns using body-and-voice percussion. Recordings and resources related to these songs can be found on Joglaresa's website here  .

These sessions, which were intended to inspire young people and give them insights into the vibrant and exciting world of medieval music, opened pupils' eyes to "new and different instruments", "different types of music" and "music from a long time ago". Pupils and teachers noted that the sessions developed their "rhythm and pulse" and their "singing skills", including singing in more than one part. The sessions also provided opportunities for experiencing "music that is about important times in history". The historical and social aspects of these workshops were of particular importance, since they reinforced what children had been learning as part of the curriculum in school in an "educational but fun way". Young people were given information about historical social injustices and were encouraged to reflect on how situations have changed over time to create the world in which they live today. In addition, pupils had the opportunity to ask questions and relished the chance to find out more about how the musicians of Joglaresa learnt their craft.

Asked what they enjoyed most about the sessions, children responded: 
  • "All the history about what people's lives were like and how people couldn't read and write"
  • "Making music in a big group with all my friends - singing lots of different things and drumming"
  • "Getting to try the fingering on the bagpipes"
  • "Learning about where different drums came from"
  • "Singing the song about King John - it was fun!"
  • "Meeting the musicians"
  • "Seeing the different kinds of instruments being played"
The National Centre for Early Music gratefully acknowledges support from the Mayfield Valley Arts Trust and the Beverley Decorative and Fine Arts Society.