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Music disability charity OHMI celebrates ten years of inclusive music-making  

Disabled music charity The OHMI Trust, is celebrating its tenth anniversary in matching disabled musicians with the adapted instruments they need to make music.  

The charity was established in 2011, with no money, only two trustees, and two volunteers. Fast forward ten years, and this small but ambitious charity has much to celebrate.  

It is unique in the breadth of support it offers to disabled child and adult musicians, with its impact felt across teaching, research and development, and awareness raising. The charity’s biennial competition, which supports the development of musical instruments that can be played without the use of one hand or arm, attracts entries from across the globe. Its popular Music-Makers and Inclusive Access to Music-Making programmes gain momentum each and every year, reaching new musicians across England and Wales. Its hire scheme offers an impressive 300 instruments and pieces of enabling equipment; a number that will only grow through the development of further instruments through OHMI’s research partnership with Queen Mary University, London and Birmingham City University. It is this wide-ranging work that led to the charity receiving recognition in The House of Lords.  

These impressive milestones will be marked at OHMI’s 2021 Competition Awards and Tenth Anniversary Celebrations, taking place on Saturday, 25th September. The event, which will be held at Aston University, will also be live-streamed from 6pm BST, and is expected to attract musicians and representatives from musical organisations from around the world. 

The event will include performances from the talented OHMI musical community, as well as an announcement on the winners of the 2021 Competition, along with demonstrations of their equipment. 

Melissa Johns, British actor and disability activist, best known for her roles in Coronation Street, BBC drama Life, and, most recently, Celebrity Masterchef, will be hosting the event.  

As Rachel Wolffsohn, OHMI’s Manager, explains, 

“Melissa is a proud champion of the rights of disabled people, so she was the perfect choice in helping OHMI to bang the drum for inclusive music-making. Hosting the event, for the first time, as a blended live and broadcast event, will allow us to share the celebrations with a global audience, reflecting the truly international nature of the competition entries over the years.” 

Registrations for the event can be submitted here: https://bit.ly/3ANUZ3A.  

Funding secured to support music opportunities for displaced children in Surrey

Surrey Arts is delighted to share the fantastic news that, in partnership with Big Leaf Foundation, just under £45k in funding has been secured to support displaced children in Surrey.  The funding from Youth Music will support a Syrian Youth Ensemble (Together at Home) and Music Connects, a project which brings asylum seeking children and local young people together to make music together.

Syrian Youth Ensemble 

The project will use music as a tool to increase life opportunities for Syrian refugee children who are now living in Surrey. Surrey Arts will equip the service to deliver one to one ensemble and performance opportunities with supported pathways into future music activities. 

The new programme will support the children with music and life skills so that they can access the diverse range of opportunities available to them through Surrey Music Hub and partners. The programme will fund specialist support for the participants and the embedded professional development ensures that this expertise is shared so that as a service Surrey Arts is better equipped to support more children from refugee backgrounds into the future.

Music Connects 

Music Connects is a collaborative song writing project for young people from local and displaced communities, who will work together across language and cultural barriers to write, perform and record a song reflecting the input of everyone in this diverse group. The project will be led by professional musicians from different musical backgrounds. 

Surrey Arts Inclusion Lead Jim Pinchen said “This funding is highly competitive and we’re delighted and grateful that Youth Music recognises Surrey Arts as an a key organisation to lead on this important strand of work”

This project is backed by Youth Music, thanks to the National Lottery via Arts Council England.

About Youth Music

Youth Music is a national charity funded thanks to the National Lottery via Arts Council England, players of People’s Postcode Lottery and support from partners, fundraisers and donors.

Easter Music Programme for 2021

Usually at this time of year we are getting ready for the annual Surrey Arts Easter Music week, a fun packed week of a variety of residential and non-residential music courses and workshops. Unfortunately due to the current lockdown the week has had to be cancelled for a second year. However, following the success of last summer’s online music and art activities (SMASH) we will be running an exciting week of workshops and videos from Monday 12 – Friday 16 April. These activities will include music production & music composition, multiple singing workshops, arts workshops, piano tasters, Celtic folk strings and much, much more. Registration is required for the live sessions and you can watch the recorded video tuitions for free by following Surrey Arts on social media. The timetable and registration details are now available.

Special Pilot Programme of Award-Winning “Singing Playgrounds”

In 2021, Surrey Arts is bringing the award-winning project Singing Playgrounds to Surrey primary schools through a new Covid-19 friendly online resource created by Ex Cathedra Education. 

Schools will have access to an online resource including a series interactive teaching films, demonstrations, 30 KS1 and KS2 lesson plans, and instrumental backing tracks. At the press of a button teachers will have the Singing Playgrounds team within the classroom, on the whiteboard, leading and teaching the children.  

Singing together releases oxytocin (a feel-good hormone) while reducing cortisol (a stress-related hormone). Singing-play is a very special way for children to improve their wellbeing, develop musicianship and vocal skills as well as personal and social skills.  

Singing Playgrounds is brilliant. I wish I could wave a wand and have it magically appear in every primary school in the country now.’  Howard Goodall CBE, National Ambassador for Singing 2007-2011

Schools enrolling on the pilot programme will receive one year’s access to the online resource at a discounted rate of £50 (half off the usual £100/year). Your one-year subscription will start from the beginning of the Autumn 2021 term.

To enrol your school at the special discounted rate you will need to apply through Surrey Arts using the application form available here. Register now to begin a new subscription starting with the Autumn 2021 term.

Online Activities for Half-term

During February half-term Surrey Arts is providing an online programme of musical activities which will run from 15 – 19 February. Pre-recorded sessions will be released throughout the week via Surrey Arts’ social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube) as well as a LIVE demo of musical instruments. No need to register, just join us on social media.

Monday 15 February
10am: Percussion – Make your own instruments!
Explore beat-making with everyday items you have at home and create different sounds. Learn a beat! Mix up your sounds!

12pm: Flamenco with a Middle Eastern Twist
An introduction to flamenco music and dance with a Middle Eastern twist with Sara Khoroosi, Fergus Paton and Waffa Paton.

2pm: Guitar ‘A single chord song’
Learn to play a song using just one chord with James Harrison.

Tuesday 16 February
10am: Introduction to piano jazz improvisation
Dave Marsden provides an introduction to Jazz improvisation with the blues scale in C.

12pm: Music from Africa
An insight into just a few of the immense rhythms and music from the vast African continent with Liz Ikamba and Muntu Valdo.

2pm: Percussion – Simple rock rhythm
How to make and build simple rock rhythm using just hands and feet with Surrey Arts’ drum tutor, Ginger.

Wednesday 17 February
10am: Introduction to drum-kit
Percussion tutor Sandro Granda introduces the 5-piece electric drum kit, providing a short breakdown and demonstration of each drum as well as a variety of rudimentary principles and techniques commonly used when playing the instrument.

12pm: A beginner’s guide to piano
Are you thinking about starting piano lessons or have a piano or keyboard at home but are not sure where to begin. In this video you’ll be shown some simple ideas suitable for beginners, to help you get going.

Thursday 18 February
10am: Guitar – A two chord song
Play a song by learning two guitar chords with guitar tutor James Harrison.

12pm: Music from Latin America
Sandro Granda and Franklin Quezada present Music from Latin America. Intro Song: Tinku, played in the Quechua language. Tinku means meeting-encounter. Outro Song: Orquidea, composed by Hugo Blanco (Venezuela), performed by Carlos Rangel.

2pm: Percussion – Big bash drumming
Description: An introduction to drumming through the fantastic world of Drumline!
Equipment: A pair of drumsticks and a practice pad/snare/table/chopping board/something to hit!

Friday 19 February
10am: Body percussion
Surrey Arts’ percussion teacher Mike Wheeler gives a demonstration and mini-lesson to help you get started with body percussion — use your body to build up a groove!

12pm: Music from the Middle East
Raghad Haddad and Bassel Haddad present Music from Syria and the Middle-East, with a number of guest musicians from the London Syrian Ensemble (performing Tahmil Hijaz) demonstrating many of the instruments discussed throughout the video.

2pm: Piano – Learn to play Happy Birthday
Learn to play a simple version of Happy Birthday, with Surrey Arts’ piano teacher Simon Gould

Singing Picnics return for Summer 2021

Surrey Arts are delighted to see the return of Singing Picnics after last year’s events were cancelled due to the coronavirus. Surrey Arts has been hosting these informal singing events for primary schools across Surrey for the last few years giving young people the chance to sing and have fun together outdoors.

Singing Picnics are a fun-filled and informal way for KS2 children from your school to enjoy singing with others in a beautiful outdoor setting with other schools from your area. Children play singing games, perform songs to each other, sing together, and enjoy a picnic lunch followed by more singing games. 

Singing Picnics provide opportunities to:

  • Perform a song to others in an informal setting
  • Listen to the performances of others
  • Sing a group song learned by call and response on the day
  • Engage in singing games led by vocal tutors
  • Engage in healthy outdoor activities.

Children from schools prepare one song to share at the picnic, and are taught other songs and singing games on the day by professional vocal leaders.

Singing Picnics are currently planned for Elmbridge, Tandridge and Runnymede, and we will be releasing details of three more Singing Picnic locations in the upcoming weeks. Find out more about the picnics on the events page.

The application deadline for the Elmbridge Singing Picnic is Friday 26 February 2021 and places will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. To attend please email surreyarts@surreycc.gov.uk.

Please be assured that the events will be following government guidance on the safe management of outdoor events very closely.  Surrey Arts will regularly update risk assessments in the light of this guidance to ensure the health and safety of those who attend.  The event will not go ahead if it isn’t safe to do so.

Ensemble Open Rehearsal Week

Ensembles are a fantastic way to develop techniques and skills as well as making friends and having fun with other musicians. Surrey Arts has a variety of groups across the whole of Surrey for all abilities, from beginners to those who have reached Grade 8 and above. 

Since we have been in lockdown, Surrey Arts ensembles have moved online which has been greatly appreciated by students and parents: ‘Now more than ever, the power of music is invaluable, and the Wind Band meetings my son has attended via Zoom have been outstanding.’ 

Leading up to Christmas many of the ensembles recorded films for a three day online concert which was a new way to perform to parents and families. You can see these films on the Surrey Arts Youtube Channel.

From Saturday 6 February to Saturday 13 February there is the chance to visit our ensembles online via Zoom and take part in a rehearsal.

If you are currently learning an instrument or enjoy singing please contact Alison Harding alison.harding@surreycc.gov.uk. There are details provided below about each ensemble and their current Zoom rehearsal time. New members are welcome at any time, so if you can’t make these dates please get in touch and we will offer an alternative session.

West Surrey

Camberley Youth Wind Orchestra Juniors:
Beginner to Grade 2
Saturday 6 February
9.30 – 10.30am

Camberley Youth Wind Orchestra Intermediates:
Grade 2 to 5
Friday 6 February
11am – 12pm

Camberley Youth Wind Orchestra Seniors:
Grade 5+
Saturday 6 February
9.30 – 10.30am

Surrey Percussion and Rhythm Crew (SPARC):
Less experienced players
Saturday 6 February
12.30 – 1.15pm

West Surrey Training Wind Band:
Grade 2 – 5
Thursday 11 February
5.30 – 6.30pm

West Surrey Wind Band:
Grade 5+
Thursday 11 February
5.30 – 6.30pm
South West Surrey

Surrey Youth Training Choir:
Aged 9 to 13
Wednesday 10 February
6.45 – 7.30pm

Brass Routes:
Beginner – Grade 2
Tuesday 9 February
6 – 7pm


South West Surrey

South West Surrey Concert Band – Juniors:
Grade 1 to 4
Saturday 6 February
9.30 – 10.30am

South West Surrey Concert Band – Seniors:
Grade 5 to 8:
Saturday 6 February
9.30 – 10.30am

South West Surrey Youth Orchestra:
Grade 5+
Wednesday 10 February
6.45 – 7.45pm

South West Winds (Woodwind, Brass and Percussion):
Beginner – Grade 4
Wednesday 10 February
5.30 – 6.15pm

Prima Strings:
Beginner – Grade 2
Wednesday 10 February
5.30 – 6.15pm

Opus Strings:
Grade 2 to 4
Wednesday 10 February
5.30 – 6.15pm


South East Surrey

Reigate String Orchestra – Preludes:
Beginner – Grade 1.
Thursday 11 February
4.15 – 5pm

Reigate String Orchestra – Juniors:
Grade 1 to 3
Thursday 11 February
5.15 – 6pm

Reigate String Orchestra – Intermediates:
Grade 3 to 5
Thursday 11 February
6.15 – 7pm

Reigate String Orchestra – Seniors:
Grade 5 to 8
Thursday 11 February
6.15 – 7pm

Mid Surrey Wind Band (Woodwind, Brass and Percussion):
All abilities
Tuesday 9 February
4.30 – 5.30pm

Blast Off (Wind, Brass and Percussion):
Beginners
Thursday 11 February
5 – 5.45pm

South East Surrey Area Winds (Wind, Brass & Percussion):
Grade 4+
Thursday 11 February
6 – 7pm


North Surrey

Junior Wind Band:
Grade 2 to 5
Saturday 6 February
10 – 11.00am

Senior Wind Band:
Grade 4+
Saturday 6 February
10 – 11.00am

Crafty Clarinets:
Grade 5+
Saturday 6 February
11.30am – 12.15pm

Junior String Orchestra:
Grade 1 to 4
Saturday 6 February
9.45 – 10.30am

Senior String Orchestra:
Grade 4+
Saturday 6 February
9 – 9.45am

Junior Guitar Ensemble:
Beginner to Grade 3
Saturday 6 February
9.45 – 10.45am

Senior Guitar Ensemble:
Grade 3+
Friday 12 February
6.15 – 7.15pm


County Ensembles

UP! Orchestra Orchestra:
For young people with SEND
Saturday 13 February
10.30am – 12noon

Surrey County Youth Jazz Orchestra:
Grade 6+
Wednesday 10 February
7 – 8.30pm

Surrey Advanced Brass Ensemble:
Grade 6+
Sunday 7 February
2 – 3pm

Surrey County Youth Orchestra:
Grade 7+
Friday 12 February
7 – 8.30pm

Surrey Youth Choir:
Grade 5+
Wednesday 10 February
7.30 – 8.30pm

Surrey County Youth Percussion Ensemble:
Grade 6+
Saturday 6 February
1.15 – 2pm

Surrey County Youth Wind Orchestra:
Grade 6+
Friday 12 February
6.45 – 7.45pm


Vocal and Percussion

Surrey Percussion and Rhythm Crew (SPARC):
Less experienced players
Saturday 6 February
12.30 – 1.15pm

Surrey Youth Training Choir:
Aged 9 to 13
Wednesday 10 February
6.45 – 7.30pm

Together at Home for SEN:
Ages 9 – 19. Attending Special Schools in Surrey.
Tuesday 9 February
5 – 6pm

Just So Singers:
SEND choir for ages 9 – 19
Wednesday 10 February
5 – 6pm


Visit Surrey Arts to see regular rehearsal times

Double nomination for Surrey Arts at Music & Drama Education Awards 2021

Surrey Arts are delighted to be shortlisted for not one but two national awards at the Music & Drama Education Awards 2021. The Music & Drama Education Awards celebrate the extraordinary contribution made by professionals, companies, charities, schools and other organisations to the lives of others through the medium of music and drama.

Head of Service Sarah Lee says ‘We are hugely proud to be shortlisted for two awards! We have an amazing inclusion team who have worked really hard to support young people during these challenging times. We are passionate about the impact music can have on young people’s lives and we are thrilled that our commitment has been recognised through this nomination’

Surrey Arts have been shortlisted in the category for Outstanding Musical Initiative with the Surrey Arts Online Inclusion Programme and the UP! Orchestra shortlisted in the Excellence in SEND (Music & Drama) category for their Music of Black Origin Programme.

Jim Pinchen UP! Orchestra Programme Lead said ‘We know that music of Black origin continues to inspire our children and young people and it’s been a privilege to explore the roots of some of these genres with out talented participants. We were delighted that our programme has been recognised and selected by the judging panel and we look forward to sharing our learning with colleagues and children and young people across our diverse county in the future. 

The organisers write: “The Surrey Arts Online Inclusion Programme has been shortlisted in the category Outstanding Musical Initiative and the UP! Orchestra for their Music of Black Origin Programme has been shortlisted in the category Excellence in SEND (Music & Drama).  This is a tremendous achievement against extremely tough competition this year, congratulations! 

The awards will be premiered live at 6.00pm on the 24th March 2021 at https://www.musicdramaedawards.com/ and Facebook Live.”

UPDATED DATES Join the Royal Opera House for Create and Sing, Surrey Music Hub 2021

Due to the current lockdown some of the online training dates for Create and Sing have been changed.

Join the Royal Opera House for a two-part virtual CPD training course exploring our Create and Sing creative learning programme (KS1-KS3). Our specialist ROH drama and music practitioners introduce the programme, pedagogy and resources and guide teachers through effective approaches to supporting students’ creative learning by exploring opera.

Create and Sing is an innovative drama and singing programme supporting young people’s creative learning and giving voice to their creativity. Our nationally and freely available teacher training and resources engage schools in a creative process leading towards creating opera in the classroom. Teachers are not required to have specialist music training as our free certified training and unique online resources help guide them through the programme every step of the way.

Watch our video here to hear what teachers say about the programme.

Create and Sing’s Covid-19 adaptations

Due to the current lockdown, the Royal Opera House have had to revise the CPD schedule, moving dates to the end of this term and the start of next. Please note if you had previously booked onto a CPD the dates may have changed (more details below). Only one Surrey date has changed, but the online Surrey sessions will also be opened up to other schools nationally.

Create and Sing has adapted this year, with training taking place through virtual twilight sessions and schools projects starting in the summer or beyond. Create and Sing virtual training brings teachers together to explore, learn, share and have some fun during this difficult time of separation.

With many schools facing curriculum time pressures but also looking for a special, engaging and rewarding project for the summer, the training focuses on our Explorer (5-week lesson plan) schemes of work. These lead teachers and students through creative learning programmes with a range of curriculum links. Teachers do not need to commit to running a school project this summer to attend the training; all are welcome.

To Register…

Create and Sing works with partner organisations to bring teachers in local areas together for training. Where possible we ask teachers book on to their area training dates, but if you are unable to make these, there are also nationally open dates below. Places are free, booked via Eventbrite and allocated on a first come first served basis:

Surrey Music Hub dates

Create and Sing Carmen part 1

18/03/2021 16:30 – 18:30 https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/roh-create-and-sing-carmen-cpd-surrey-music-hub-part-1-of-2-tickets-131844643879

Create and Sing Carmen part 2

21/04/2021 16:30 – 18:30 https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/roh-create-and-sing-carmen-cpd-part-2-of-2-surrey-music-hub-tickets-131845301847

National training dates

Create and Sing Hansel & Gretel part 1

17/03/2021 16:00-18:00 https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/roh-create-and-sing-hansel-gretel-cpd-open-nationally-part-1-of-2-tickets-136815678377

Create and Sing Hansel & Gretel part 2

29/03/2021 16:00-18:00  https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/create-and-sing-hansel-gretel-cpd-open-nationally-part-2-of-2-tickets-136816105655

Create and Sing Carmen part 1

18/03/2021 16:30-18:30 https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/roh-create-and-sing-carmen-cpd-open-nationally-part-1-of-2-tickets-136816540957

Create and Sing Carmen part 2

21/04/2021 16:30-18:30 https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/roh-create-and-sing-carmen-cpd-open-nationally-part-2-of-2-tickets-136816432633

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