How to make music a lesson in fun

Making classical music fun for children is the aim of a show called The Music Factory, which will be performed at Cork’s Everyman on Saturday.

Presented by Calefax, a reed quintet from the Netherlands, the theatrical concert is being staged in association with the Cork Orchestral Society and Music Generation. It’s aimed at children aged six and upwards.

The five musicians use music and mime to tell a poignant story: the Calefax men work in a factory making tubes. Their actions complement each other so perfectly that it seems as if they are making music. The orders for their product stop. They panic, but discover the different uses of the tubes. They experiment. It transpires that the most beautiful instruments can be made from the tubes — and the orders start flowing in again. With the Music Factory in place, the men must find a way to record their music.

The show, which is non-verbal, includes music from Mozart, Prokofiev, Bach, Byrd and Shostakovitch. Co-ordinator of Music Generation, in Cork, Mags O’Sullivan, says The Music Factory is ideal for a socially inclusive music education programme.

“We have a comprehensive wind-and-brass programme running in schools all around the city, particularly in the south side, in association with the Barrack Street Band. Members of the army band, and music graduates of UCC and CIT School of Music, teach on this programme. They’re teaching the clarinet, the saxophone, the flute and the recorder. So, The Music Factory seems like an opportunity for the children to see and hear the instruments they’re so intimate with being played in a different way.”

The Music Factory may influence children who are learning musical instruments. “As well as the music being arranged, Calefax have also worked with a theatrical director to develop this show. It translates well, wherever it goes. It’s just people having a bit of craic on stage with the instruments, and with a narrative stringing through the show.”

The show is also about people coping with a crisis by being creative. Music Generation “is all about exposure. It’s about giving children the opportunity to hear different types of music. The children learn different genres. The whole basis of the programme is that young people are learning music through making it themselves. There’s the idea that they can be part of an ensemble, even if they can only play one note. There’s a whole move in music education, generally, to try and integrate children, so they can use what they know in order to make music and have a more satisfying musical experience. Learning by doing embeds learning more deeply.”

Via Music Generation, 1,000 school children are taking part in weekly music classes.

* The Music Factory will be performed on Saturday at the Everyman, at 1pm.


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