Okehampton Music Centre

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The Okehampton Music Centre is an initiative to encourage young people to get more involved with music. We aim to make learning an instrument affordable for all. We want young people to experience the thrill of playing in an orchestra; and to develop players, so that our local, regional, and national orchestras thrive in the future.

Pupils are taught by high quality teachers, at Okehampton College on Thursdays after school. Lessons in various instruments are available for all pupils in years 3 to 9, including those who are home educated. Older pupils with musical experience join us as mentors, helping in the workshops and choir. For younger pupils we run Kodaly sessions on Thursday mornings.

The benefits of engaging in music have been well documented with many studies demonstrating great academic and social outcomes. We believe that the Okehampton Music Centre provides fantastic opportunities for young people to make musical progress, explore their creativity and to develop their self-esteem. We hope to ignite a love of music that will last a lifetime through music making, singing and having fun!

To join or find out more about the Music Centre please contact our Coordinator, Isobel Plusnin isobel@communitylinks-sw.co.uk. You can also contact Isobel if you are interested in volunteering with us or if you would like to donate an instrument.

Keep an eye out for taster events, news and opportunities below.

Costs

We understand that instrumental lessons are expensive, and our aim is to remove the financial barriers for families that can prevent their children from learning an instrument. Various membership options are available to ensure all families can afford for their children to participate.

There is no means testing or complicated bursary applications. We trust families will choose an option that is both manageable to them, and supportive of the ethos of our project.

We do not want financial issues to be a barrier for any child, so please do not hesitate to contact us in confidence if you have any concerns about costs.


Opportunities and Latest News

Instrumental Lessons

We teach orchestral instruments, many of which are considered “endangered”. This is often due to a shortage of teachers, the cost of the instruments, and because they are some of the trickier instruments to master.

We aim to plug the gap in orchestras in our schools, at County level, and even nationally, by developing a new generation of viola, cello, oboe, bassoon, trombone, tuba and French horn players. Recorder is taught as an entry level instrument to those considering the oboe or another woodwind instrument.

Pupils are taught in small groups, and learn the skills required to play in an ensemble right from the start, as well as developing good technique. We also encourage pupils to learn to read music notation and develop a practice ethic which will enable them to make good progress.

Workshops

There is so much more to being musical than learning an instrument. The workshops focus on encouraging a love of music, an understanding of theory though games and activities, as well as a friendly environment in which to develop pupils’ musical creativity. The larger workshop groups include pupils learning different instruments, providing a mini orchestral experience. For our primary school pupils, it’s a great place to make friends from other schools, many of whom will transition to the same secondary school.

Choir

Singing is one of the most accessible ways to enjoy music, and our choir is going from strength to strength. Pupils are taught how to look after their voices, how to hold parts in rounds or multi-part songs and develop a repertoire of music that is fun to sing. New members are always welcome at the choir, and we would also love to hear from experienced singers who would like to help in the choir as student mentors.

Kodaly Sessions

Using singing to develop musicianship is the perfect start for our younger pupils. Without the technical demands of an instrument, we can lay the foundations of musical literacy through sing games, play and fun. Session for ages 0-3 years are on Thursday mornings and we have sessions on Saturday mornings for ages 3-5 and 5-7 years. Contact Isobel for more information.

Performances

We aim to have regular informal performances to celebrate pupils’ progress with parents, funders and the wider community. Our concerts are relaxed and a great place to learn to conquer those stage nerves. We also perform at Okehampton United Charities’ annual Celebration Evening and have participated in performances with Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra in Exeter’s Great Hall.

External Events and Next Steps

We feel that it is important that pupils get to experience the sound of a full orchestra played at a professional level. We organise trips to see Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and encourage pupils to go to watch Exeter Children’s Orchestra and Devon Youth Symphony and Concert Orchestra so that they can see their next steps. Several of our pupils have progressed far enough to join in with these orchestras, and we are thrilled that they are getting even more involved in music making.

Our Partners

We are grateful to Okehampton United Charities, Devon Music Education Hub (DMEH) and the Arts Council for funding our project. The DMEH also provide us with low cost instrument hire and help with repairs. We are very fortunate to be gifted rehearsal and performance space by Okehampton College.

We also have links with Devon Youth Concert and Symphony Orchestra who have included Okehampton Music Centre in their outreach work. It is fantastic for our pupils to sit beside more experienced pupils and to experience a fuller orchestral sound.

We also watch closely for opportunities with Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and have already been to see them play in the Great Hall, Exeter, as well as join in with a workshop and performance with them.

Many of our pupils have caught the orchestral bug, and are also joining in with Exeter Children’s Orchestra which rehearses on a Saturday morning.