Nurturing life-long love for classical music in Mansfield schools

A project is underway in Mansfield which aims to nurture a love of classical music among schoolchildren.
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Mansfield District Council and Nottinghamshire-based MishMash Productions are working in partnership to introduce youngsters, aged from three to 11, in the district to live classical music through a musician in residence programme at Oak Tree Primary School.

There will also be two series of on-the-road musical experiences, creating classical music hotspots in the community for children and families.

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The first of those will be next week when the The MishMash Ensemble, a woodwind quintet, will visit seven schools in the area for a 40-minute performance aimed at children aged seven to 11.

The MishMash Ensemble The MishMash Ensemble
The MishMash Ensemble

The MishMash project aligns with the council’s Aspiration agenda and priorities and aims to inspire and enrich the lives of youngsters, build confidence, and explore how classical music can be incorporated more widely into an educational curriculum as an imaginative aid to learning.

Liz Muge, Artistic and Executive Director MishMash Productions, said: “The programme is not about training future professional musicians; it’s about building a love of music which will stay with young people from all backgrounds forever, through enjoyment and enrichment of their lives.

“Our research has shown that integrating live music as part of the school day improves engagement with learning, across the curriculum, as well as creativity, confidence and aspiration. We also know that music supports wellbeing and emotional health, so it’s really a win-win for everyone.”

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Cllr Stuart Richardson, Portfolio Holder for Regeneration and Growth, said: “The council is committed to ensuring all young people in Mansfield can achieve their potential so we are really thrilled to see children in the district having the opportunity to benefit from this kind of innovative approach to learning.

“What we’re doing with MishMash will build the confidence and self-esteem in our local children. Through this special partnership, and thanks to funding from Arts Council England, we are enabling young people have a chance to develop their musical aspirations as far as they wish to go, regardless of background or previous exposure to music.”

The residency part of the project was launched earlier this year and is delivering a series of welcoming and enjoyable weekly musical experiences at Oak Tree Primary School, which is in one of Mansfield’s most deprived neighbourhoods.

The programme explores how live music can be embedded throughout the school day, supporting curriculum delivery, wellbeing initiatives, engagement and enrichment, and staff development.

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This includes delivering mindfulness and meditation through music, and using music as a stimuli for writing activities, involving musical instruments to demonstrate key principles in science lessons, and using songs as memory aids for learning.

Next week’s performances by The MishMash Ensemble:

Monday 16 October: Crescent Primary School, MansfieldTuesday 17 October: Asquith Primary School, MansfieldWednesday 18 October: Birklands Primary School, Warsop, and Church Vale Primary School, Church WarsopThursday 19 October: St Peter’s C of E Primary School, Mansfield, and Oak Tree Primary School, MansfieldFriday 20 October: Ladybrook Flying High Academy, Mansfield. The company will take its live music learning programme on the road again next year. The second tour will see its award-winning family show, Smile, pop up at community venues around the district during the February half term.

The show, aimed at children aged three to five, is a magical musical interpretation of the well-known children’s picture book Augustus and his Smile, by Catherine Rayner, about a tiger who loses his smile.

Both MishMash Productions and the council joined the Arts Council England (ACE) National Portfolio scheme as a regularly funded organisation in April 2023, and have been investing these funds into the partnership. The success of the project in Mansfield will be monitored and evaluated through the ACE frameworks.