Since 2010, Wigmore Hall’s learning ensemble Ignite have been coming to the Centre to teach music to some of our English Language students. The aim is to help people who are socially excluded due to their lack of language skills, with the opportunity to develop communication and teamwork skills through music. As teacher Rachel Applegate says, “I am often surprised by the students who come along, especially those who are beginners or who have appeared quiet or withdrawn. I see the students in a new light with interests and ideas that they don’t always have the language or opportunity to express in the classroom”.
On Friday 21st March the music group put on a lunchtime concert for all the staff. It was the culmination of a year-long project, focusing on the theme of London. The sun was shining, making for a beautiful and moving performance. Click the picture below to see the slideshow, or view the list for larger images.
As part of the project, the students looked at the music of Handel (a Londoner), and went to see his Opera, Ariodante, at the Royal Academy of Music. The students then learned part of an Aria, which helped with the pronunciation of difficult words, as one student said: “I loved hearing the music, it is something I have never done before, but being able to learn some was a special experience. I am much more confident speaking English now. I have learnt lots of feelings words from talking about the music, like ‘jealousy’ and ‘angry’.”
The students performed two pieces, which although the musicians from Ignite had planned the sessions, there was plenty of scope for the students to make decisions, write lyrics and compose using the percussion instruments. There were rhythms inspired by Regents Park, Brick Lane and Hyde Park, dramatic whispers of ‘I, love, Lon-don, town’ and lyrics such as ‘your streets are a patchwork of excitement’.
The students have often commented that they are able to forget their problems when they come to the sessions by immersing themselves in the music and working together to produce something they want to share. One student remarked: “It offers me confidence and skills about singing and speaking English. It also gives me pleasure”.
The success of the music programme proves that, with the right support, young people can turn their life around and take steps towards independence. To give them this chance, we need your help.