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Friday, 09 October 2015
The Junior Girls have been taken on a musical tour of British history by Travelling by Tuba duo Chris Cranham and Stewart Death. The musicians entertained and enthralled the girls by playing a variety of wind and brass instruments to exemplify different time periods.
This ‘Best of British’ themed show began with the instruments of the invaders: the Viking animal horn and the Roman Cornu – both of which surprised the girls with their volume. Chris explained that the shape and material used to make the Cornu were both designed so that it would be portable for Roman soldiers. He then allowed some girls to try and make a sound with the Cornu themselves. The musicians then moved on to the Tudor period’s Sackbut and Cornett and played a courtly dance with the help of a pupil on drums. The girls also saw an early version of the trombone. Chris and Stewart were able to explain how lengthening or shortening the pipe by moving the slider changes the note produced.
Next the girls were introduced to a very strangely shaped instrument: the snake-like Serpent. This was the first type of Tuba the girls saw in the presentation, and it led them to look at Chris’s modern-day Tuba, which he showed them was just a very long tube with a mouthpiece and a bell. To prove the point, Chris and Stewart then asked the girls to mimic the tuba sound using a funnel, a piece of hosepipe the same length as a Tuba’s pipe, and a mouthpiece. This led to lots of laughs from the audience! However, like the trombone demonstration earlier, it also showed the girls exactly how the Tuba works.
The children also learned about the development of the valve during the Industrial Revolution and the type of music played in Victorian parlours before moving on to the rousing songs of the Second World War. The finale was a fantastic tribute to ‘Last Night of the Proms’ with a special suite, including an exploding Tuba!
The girls had a fantastic time listening to the many different kinds of music and hearing a variety of unusual instruments. They particularly enjoyed trying them out first-hand, and having the opportunity to see and hear musical instruments that are no longer in use today. The ‘Best of British’ show also gave the girls more understanding of the musical and social history of the UK.
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