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Ann Barkway and BBC Ten Pieces

21st October 2015

Ann Barkway and BBC Ten Pieces

The Music Mark Blog has already interviewed many of the contributors to the BBC Ten Pieces initiative. Today, we speak to Ann Barkway, who served as the Education Consultant for the programme. Ann tells us about her role, the pieces that she would have included and the successes she experienced when teaching the primary version of the programme.

What was your role with BBC Ten Pieces?

As the Education Consultant for Ten Pieces, I worked with the scriptwriter to ensure that the content was musically and educationally appropriate for the Key Stage 3 age group. Another of my roles was to create listening tests for each of the Ten Pieces. Finally, I was also part of the team that decided which pieces would be in the film, which was a tough decision!

What were your intentions with the resources that you created?

I focused the listening activities on encouraging pupils to explore the soundworlds, instrumentation, melodies, rhythms & harmonies of each piece. By opening their ears, the pupils will begin to understand that classical music covers a broad spectrum and that there really is something there for everyone.

Why do you think Ten Pieces matters in the current music education climate?

Ten Pieces is crucial. Its simple ethos is to introduce young people of a school age to classical music. And it works. The entry point, through a visually-stimulating yet challenging film, is key to their initial interest. The wealth of supporting material available online is fundamental to ensuring that teachers can support pupils’ learning, and build a programme of activities to suit their own resources and requirements. Classical music is not a genre to be feared, and Ten Pieces allows it to be embraced in the classroom. It allows teachers and pupils to understand it, to make it a normal, and an accessible part of their everyday lives.

If you could choose an ‘eleventh piece’, what would it be?

Having contributed to the selection of the Ten Pieces, it would be easy to look back at the various lists circulated at the time and to pick something from there. However, with the current selection, and my own belief that singing in schools should be further encouraged, my eleventh choice would be a choral work. Elgar’s ‘Dream of Gerontius’ or ‘The Kingdom’ would be up there (am I allowed a twelfth?). These pieces would also highlight the essential contribution of English composers to classical music.

Describe the best music lesson you’ve taught (or seen taught)

I would genuinely say that the most successful initiative I’ve used was last year’s Ten Pieces, which I taught with a Year 5 and 6 class. This group of children had little access to music, did not play any instruments and had minimal experience of any classical music. But they absolutely devoured Ten Pieces!

Observing a group of children sitting quietly for 50+ minutes, and conducting their way through the film as excitement grew, really is quite a sight. And that was just lesson one! From this point, we explored each piece in detail. We looked at them musically, historically and contextually. The children weren’t robotic in their responses, and they didn’t duly learn the ‘language’. Instead, they absorbed it.

One of them even heard Mozart’s Horn Concert being played in Tesco, don’t you know…