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Young musicians get down to brass tacks with the RSAMD

Video-link project allows primary pupils to work with professional quintet. Chris Small reports

Video-link project allows primary pupils to work with professional quintet. Chris Small reports

Pupils learning how to play brass instruments at primaries across Dumfries and Galloway took their cues from some of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama's finest musicians as part of an inventive video-link project last month.

St Michael's Primary in Dumfries was one of nine schools that took part in the reciprocal project with the RSAMD's brass quintet, Bells Up.

After logging into the video link, the RSAMD band ran a workshop with the P5 pupils before performing a piece for them. A question-and-answer session followed, then the group of pupils - all trumpet players - performed. They were then given feedback from the members of Bells Up.

"It worked fantastically well," says St Michael's head, Denise Sommerville, because pupils are well-versed with video-conferencing facilities and enthusiastic about learning from experienced professional musicians.

"It was inspiring for the children and a few of them are now talking about the possibility of going to the RSAMD in the future," she says.

The Dumfries and Galloway schools music service has been developing instrumental music lessons by video link since 2005, initially supported with a grant from the then Scottish Executive, now funded solely by the service, says education officer Alan Cameron.

"This event was the first time we had an all-day link with so many schools," he says.

The RSAMD, shortly to be renamed the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, is committed to developing the project, says principal John Wallace.

"We hope that this format of learning and teaching is used as a model in other, more remote parts of Scotland and the rest of the world, giving artists the opportunity to link with other like-minded teachers and performers around the globe," he says.

Other primaries that took part included Johnstonebridge in Lockerbie, Penpont in Thornhill and Canonbie near Langholm.

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