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Christchurch School

Reaching Out: Hastings International Piano works in 3 primary schools

Hastings International Piano – the organisation behind the Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition – firmly believes that it has a responsibility to reach out beyond the competition itself and to engage with the wider community through its Learning & Participation Programme. Nicky Webb writes. All photos by Alice Denny.

Last week, it launched its 2024 schools programme, with three days of high-quality musical experiences for primary school pupils (Key Stage 2) from Christ Church CE Academy, Silverdale Primary Academy and St Leonards CEP Academy. Groups of  9 – 11 year olds from the three schools took part in workshops with a musician leader, Sam Glazer, and a previous Hastings International Piano competitor, Gabriele Sutkute.

Christ Church School

The students composed their own original music from scratch, writing their own song using keyboard instruments, which they then rehearsed and performed with Gabriele at a special showcase assembly at the end of the school day. More than 100 children took part in the workshops and another 600 experienced the events at the end of the day.

Sarah Kowitz, Chair of the Trustees for Hastings International Piano, said: “We believe that there is no better way to engage children and young people in music than by involving them in the activity itself.

“The gradual sidelining of creative subjects in the national curriculum and wholesale cuts in arts funding have left many children unable to access music at all – and so we are attempting to fill the gap, not only by bringing the best young pianists to Hastings, but also by developing the passion and musical talent of children and young people who live in the town by involving them directly in co-creating their own music.”

Christ Church School

Andrew Marsh, Music Subject Lead for the Silverdale Primary Academy, said: “Sam and Gabriele delivered such an inclusive and inspiring workshop to our Year 5 children last week. They made the whole experience fun, exciting and creative for all the children. They demonstrated such wonderful motivational strategies for those finding challenge with the song-writing process and kept all of us smiling with their positivity and humour. We would most definitely welcome Hastings International Piano back again soon!”

Later in the year, Hastings International Piano plans to deliver a legacy project with some of the children who took part in these workshops. Children who showed particular interest and aptitude will be chosen to take free weekly group lessons to learn the electric keyboard for a period of 30 weeks, culminating with the children and their families being invited to a Hastings International Piano concert.

Plans are also afoot for another workshop project in primary schools, specifically designed for SEND children and those eligible for Pupil Premium.

The Learning & Participation programme has been made possible thanks to funding from Arts Council England and the Garfield Weston Foundation, and the support of the Kowitz Family Foundation, Spencer Wills Trust , Hollick Family Foundation, Chalk Cliff Trust, Isabel Blackman Foundation, Hastings Winkle Club, Hastings Rotary Club and the Mrs A Lacy Tate Trust.

Find out more via the website: 

Christ Church School

Hastings International Piano

Hastings International Piano is the independent charity that promotes the biennial Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition, but its roots go back more than a century to the Hastings Musical Festival which has been taking place in Hastings since 1908.

The Concerto Competition was revived in 2005 and has evolved into an internationally-renowned competition for young concert pianists from around the world. In recent years its reputation has grown steadily and it is now considered to be one of the top piano competitions in the world, and one of the only ones that asks competitors to play complete concertos from the first round. It now enjoys partnerships with both the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Southbank Sinfonia.

This year’s competition takes place 22 February – 2 March at the White Rock Theatre.  

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Posted 13:58 Thursday, Feb 8, 2024 In: Music & Sound

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