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Report by Derfel Thomas, Ysgol Tudno to Ensemble Cymru

Ysgol Tudno Logo

As education providers, we recognize the importance of the creative arts and their place in pupil
development and working alongside other stakeholders, we aim to enhance the opportunities we
provide as a school. Through varied, rewarding experiences, we hope to develop the citizens of the
future. Through creative opportunities children learn to express themselves and understand their
place in the world. These activities also provide ample opportunity to develop curricular areas in an
interesting and creative way. The arts are also valued as a vehicle to ensure that each child reaches
his or her individual potential as it breaks down the barriers created by additional learning needs
and is central to increasing engagement and improving wellbeing.

The opportunities that the pupils have received through this project are invaluable!
The pupils were inspired by fun but challenging engagement with music, building their confidence in
listening and performing and exploring their innovative possibilities. Listening to the various
performances enabled children to experience a multitude of media, develop independent thinking
skills and expressive language skills. Stimulating people’s lives through the arts has given pupils and
the wider school community the opportunity to see and listen to artwork and share new
perspectives. This has engendered enthusiasm in pupils which has often led to further class work.
Pupils’ desire is evident as they convey messages about their experiences back to parents and carers
at home.

The latest part of the project, radio Ensemble Cymru, has been a great asset to the project as a
whole. The children have really enjoyed the opportunity to create and record material for it and
although it was a bit difficult to organize in the middle of the lockdown it meant that not only did
they have the opportunity to develop creative skills but also digital skills. Parents have also had the
opportunity to be involved by listening to the daily broadcasts, with some listening several times a
day. Mrs. Iona Hughes, Head teacher at Ysgol Tudno said “The collaboration and previous work has
had a positive impact on pupils’ confidence and has shown their willingness to participate and make
use of their technological skills. The project has given those pupils with different interests a chance
to shine as we’re ‘learning to shine together’. ‘”

The project as a whole has been an integral part of our development of the ‘Curriculum for Wales’
and has developed our learners into ambitious, capable, lifelong learners, enterprising, creative
contributors willing to play their full part in their life and work, principled, informed citizens and
healthy, confident individuals who are ready to live life fulfilling their aspirations as valued members
of society.

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A Blue-print for Innovative and High-quality School and Cultural Partnerships

An Independent Report by Nia Richards (Tybed)

Ysgol Tudno and Ensemble Cymru are developing innovative practice within the Expressive Arts through a collaborative professional-enquiry approach, they are increasing engagement by being responsive to pupils’ needs and interests and they are building relationships between the school and the wider community.

Nia Richards (Tybed)

Effective community schools make thoughtful use of school assets to improve the lives of children and families in the local community. They work in partnership with local groups and organisations in enterprising and creative ways. They seek to address gaps in local sport, cultural or care provision. 

Estyn, 20201
Continue reading A Blue-print for Innovative and High-quality School and Cultural Partnerships
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Chance to shine for budding Aberystwyth musicians

Chamber music group, Ensemble Cymru together with Ceredigion Music Service have launched a new ‘Chamber Academy’ at Aberystwyth Arts Centre where aspiring local musicians will have the opportunity to take part in masterclasses by some of the country’s leading classical music performers.

Continue reading Chance to shine for budding Aberystwyth musicians

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Music, Welsh and Rumantsch in Switzerland

Performance for Broadcast on Rumantsch Radio and Television.

Peryn Clement-Evans (Clarinet); Oliver Wilson(Viola); Anne Denholm (Harp); Jonathan Rimmer (Flute) & Sara Lian Owen (Soprano). Performance in the Graubunden’s Canton School.

The joint performance with Corcanti Chur and Cor Rumantsch in front of school pupils, teachers, families and the public was a very memorable occasion.  The whole event was recorded for Rumantsch Television and Radio.

The highpoint was a performance of Gareth Glyn’s arrangement of the Welsh national anthem with the youth choirs of  Graubünden’s Canton School.  Our musicians performed a cross section of chamber music from Wales including music by William Mathias, Hilary Tann, music from Wales bardic tradition, Cerdd Dant (arr. Sioned Webb) and the well-known song Lisa Lan.

Discussion about living through Welsh and Rumantsch

Moderated by the presenter from Radio and Television Rumantscha, Victoria Haas, there was discussion sparked by searching questions from the young people concerning the support to the Welsh language, status of the Welsh language as one of the two official languages in Wales, bilingualism in Wales and comparing its status with that of Rumantsch as one of the four official languages in Switzerland.

_MG_1046A Rumantsch pupil, Peryn Clement-Evans & Victoria Haas (Presenter for Radio e Televisiun Rumantscha) discussing living through Rumantsch & Welsh as minority languages.
A Rumantsch pupil, Peryn Clement-Evans & Victoria Haas (Presenter for Radio e Televisiun Rumantscha) discussing living through Rumantsch & Welsh as minority languages.

Then to close, performances together (us and the choirs) of entrancing Rumantsch folk songs in special arrangements for the project by the composer and bassoonist Gion Andreas Casanova of music by his father, Gion Balzer Casanova.

Composers son and father: Gion Andrea Casanova & Gion Balzer Casanova

Music at the Heart of Education.

Graubunden’s Canton School has a brilliant team of 7 music teachers including Christian Klucker, ambassador for our project and Gion Andreas all of whom work so hard with the young people through singing and music throughout the school.  Speaking with the school’s Director, I came away with the strong impression of how important the school sees music in helping it and its staff to prepare its young people for life.

The music facilities for approximately 2,000 pupils in the school are fantastic.  We suspect that at least one or two of the conservatoires and music faculties in Britian might be jealous of the number of the pianos and rooms dedicated to music.

Ymarfer terfynol yn Chur: Anne Denholm a Sara Lian Owen
Final rehearsal in the school: Anne Denholm & Sara Lian Owen

Thanks to the Director, Gion Lechmann and Deputy Director, Philippe Benguerel of the Canton School for their support.  Thanks to Werner Cariget and his pupils for their work preparing questions for the discussion and to Mike Evans for instant translation.  Mike’s the only person we know who speaks Welsh and Rumantsch!

We must thank especially the ambassador for the project, Christian Klucker (conductor of Incantanti and Music Teacher at the School) who has worked so hard to ensure the success of the visit.  We were especially thankful to him and Erica and their family and neighbours Beatrice and Andreas for the welcome, hospitality and for looking after us.

Working with Chur’s Young Musicians

With the assistance of our interpretors, Toni, Kurt and Karin, we had a lot of fun working with the young instrumentalists (Guitar, recorders, flute, saxophone, clarinet, violinis, violas, cello) from  Musikschule Domat/Ems, Felsberg.

Preparing to rehearse...
Preparing to rehearse…

Ensemble Cymru’s musicians led on activities to warm up the body, to develop the sense of rhythm and to develop the ability to breathe well and to support the sound effectively.  Then onwards to work on Gareth Glyn’s arrangement of Ar Hyd y Nos (All Through the Night) for the Ensemble and the young musicians.  The conductor of the orchestra, Ursin Widmer joined us on the second day to conduct a performance at the close of the two days with the children and young people.

Sibilla Stoltz (centre) and Anne Denholm (right)
Sibilla Stoltz (centre) and Anne Denholm (right)


We were very grateful to Sibilla Stolz (the orchestra’s Coordinator) for driving us around in the bus (and her husband Rico) and for organising the 2 workshops. We are also thankful to Anita Jehli (head of the school) and her office for enabling us to work with the school’s students and to Kathrin von Cube (Head of Strings), Bettina Marugg (Head of Flute Ensemble) and to Ursin Widmer (Orchestra Director) for working with the children and young people in preparation.

Biggest thanks go on behalf of the Ensemble: Peryn(Clarinét), Sara (Soprano), Oliver (Viola), Jonathan (Flute) and Anne (Harp) to the children and young people for being such fun to work with.

Jonathan Rimmer (Flute) and Oliver Wilson (Viola) working with the orchestra.
Jonathan Rimmer (Flute) and Oliver Wilson (Viola) working with the orchestra.


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Get your little ones hooked on good music!

You’re never too young to get hooked on music, and our Tots Music Morning for children aged 0-3 months earlier this month certainly proved that.

With the youngest of the group only three months old, a fun time was had by all at our Dalcroze Eurhythmics session at Neuadd Dwyfor, Pwllheli. And it was a full house too with 15 children and adults coming along to enjoy the music and movement workshop.

Led by Dalcroze specialist, Bethan Habron-James, the little ones explored how different sounds, rhythms and types of music can make us move differently. And there was lots of interaction with the tots joining in with the music by singing, shaking their shakers or banging their wooden beaters! Plus there was live music performed by members of Ensemble Cymru on the piano and clarinet. Take a look at the photos from the event. Continue reading Get your little ones hooked on good music!

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Why Dalcroze for Wales? By Bethan Habron-James

Bethan working in Neuadd Dwyfor
Bethan working in Neuadd Dwyfor

I had the privilege of going to Geneva to study Dalcroze Eurhythmics at the end of the 90s, after some years of studying part time in Manchester. At the end of my dissertation for my final Licentiate exams I wrote that my dream one day, would be to share this pioneering education method with my Welsh compatriots. I explained that I had had an excellent music education in my childhood, full of singing and instrumental playing but there had been no connection between my music education and my physical education (apart from folk dancing, where the two crafts co-existed but the movement was not related to musical education).

Dalcroze Eurhythmics is unique in that one learns about music through music, and through the instinctive response of the body. The teacher improvises music, or plays recorded music, and draws the class to respond to the sound by using the body’s natural movement. Every element of music can be taught as a physical experience primarily in the gross muscles, before moving on to train the fine muscles for playing an instrument. This is how the body has learnt since childhood and it makes sense to prepare the whole body before learning to play a musical instrument; to prepare it to listen, to respond with agility and flexibility, to develop coordination, to be aware of others and the surrounding space, to fire the imagination, and so forth. Continue reading Why Dalcroze for Wales? By Bethan Habron-James

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What happened when Ensemble Cymru met Codi’r To…

Sophie Cusworth
Sophie Cusworth

Sophie’s blog

“On the 22nd of July Ensemble Cymru visited Ysgol Glancegin in Bangor where Milli and I caught the action on camera. We arrived at around 9am and set up the camera before the workshop started; I had the lovely job of sound assistant which involved holding up a boom mike behind the camera to record the sound.

We were able to capture the performances of Ensemble Cymru musicians, Cai Isfryn and Gwyn Owen on brass, Sioned Roberts on clarinet, Katka Marešová​ playing violin and Glian Llwyd on piano. It was lovely to see the interaction between the musicians and the children asking funny questions and learning about the different types of sounds each instrument makes. Continue reading What happened when Ensemble Cymru met Codi’r To…

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Lucy’s blog about making music (and little friends) in Pwllheli

Waking up to an almighty thunder storm on Saturday morning, I was slightly concerned that the weather may put off our audience – it sounded pretty scary out there! However I needn’t have worried as just before 10am, a flurry of parents and children flooded into Pwllheli’s Neuadd Dwyfor on Saturday for a morning of musical fun.

The workshop, led by Sioned Roberts with musical assistance from Katerina Maresova, aimed to introduce young children to the wonder of music through song, listening and play. Katerina Said:

“I really enjoyed taking part in today’s workshop – it was so rewarding to see the children interacting with the music.” Continue reading Lucy’s blog about making music (and little friends) in Pwllheli

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The story of Peter and the Wolf

“As the plucky hero of our story, the tale begins with Peter…

The young boy lives with his grandfather in a clearing in the forest, but one day Peter decides to leave the safety of the clearing and wander into the forest. Leaving the gate open behind him, one of ducks follows Peter out.

“Peter warns the little bird and she jumps into a tree”

The duck swims out into a pond but soon gets into a quarrel with a little bird. However their bickering is ended when Peter’s cat comes along. Peter warns the little bird and she jumps into a tree before the cat has a chance to get her claws in!

“Peter’s grandfather notices that the boy has snuck out”

Soon, Peter’s grandfather notices that the boy has snuck out and dashes into the forest to get him back, scolding Peter for going out alone, “what if there’d been a wolf out there?” he asks the boy. Continue reading The story of Peter and the Wolf