Behind the scenes with schools

9 July 2020

We believe creativity in schools is important and helps raise aspirations and increase expectations for the pupils. Group music-making also helps develop communication skills, confidence, and adaptability. In 2015, supported by a grant from the Hodge Foundation, Welsh National Opera launched an inclusive programme of regular schools activity in South Wales to deliver high-quality music education and performance opportunities for local schools.

Over the last five years, our education team has worked with over 2,400 pupils across 15 schools – including five Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) schools. Two years ago, we also began offering regular workshops to schools in areas of deprivation in Birmingham (one of WNO’s Hubs).

Dan Perkin, Music Director for WNO Youth Opera is one of our regular workshop leaders:

‘Having been a workshop and music leader for over 15 years, I can say that what sets apart WNO’s workshop programme from my other work is the regular contact we have with our participants. We see the pupils every week during term time. It’s been a great pleasure for everyone to see the children develop and grow, not just in their performing skills but also in terms of their confidence on their journey.’

Sessions are made to introduce and teach the pupils about the building blocks of opera, which include the songs, music, stories as well as vocal warmups and singing. These sessions are centred around the operas WNO are performing on stage and they end with a sharing performance in the summer term.

‘These sessions would not have been possible without the support that the Hodge Foundation has given us over the last five years for our regular schools’ programme in South Wales. We wanted to celebrate this and give an even bigger performance opportunity for the children. A new composition Fantastic Fables by Gareth Glyn (composer) and Anni Llŷn (librettist) has been commissioned especially for the occasion. We had hoped to perform it this year at St David’s Hall in Cardiff to not just their parents and teachers but to the public as well, however it was cancelled due to the pandemic. We are still working hard and finding new possibilities to hopefully present it in 2021 instead.’ Rebeka Peake, WNO Schools Co-ordinator

During the UK lockdown, we have been focusing on providing weekly sessions for the schools in Cardiff and Birmingham through various means. Our workshop leaders are providing recorded video sessions, podcasts and learning resources for the children and teachers. During the sessions, they explore different operas as well as focus on vocal and body warm ups.

However, we cannot wait to back into the classrooms to deliver inspiring workshops to the children and hear their excitement when they see a WNO performance.

WNO’s schools work has been generously supported for five years (2015-2020) by

WNO's Youth, Community and Digital activity is also supported by a generous gift from