Bennachie the Magical Mountain with Drake Music Scotland

Drake Music Scotland creates opportunities for children and adults with disabilities to learn, compose and perform music independently. Emma Lines, Programme Manager, talks about a project working with schools in Aberdeenshire.

What was the project?

Drake Music Scotland worked with 6 schools across Aberdeenshire in a creative project linked with the BBC Ten Pieces initiative, and our theme was “Bennachie - The Magical Mountain”. Bennachie is a local landmark in the centre of Aberdeenshire and has many stories and legends surrounding its history. The two BBC Ten Pieces we chose were “In the Hall of the Mountain King” by Grieg and “Night on a Bare Mountain” by Mussorgsky which fitted in with the stories and atmosphere of Bennachie. Each of the schools created their own response along with the Drake Music Scotland Associate Musician to their section of a day in the life of Bennachie (Sunrise through to sunrise again) and performed these pieces at Haddo House in June 2015. 

How did you plan together?

Drake tend to take the lead in all aspects of the planning and decisions for the project creatively and logistically with discussions with Aberdeenshire Council about specifics, and for invoicing etc. They help to liaise with the schools in the run up to the event, and that two pronged ‘attack’ in the run up to a performance is always useful, with many schools involved. I liaise directly with the head teachers in the schools and our Associate Musicians to book in the project. Creatively myself and Pete (Artistic Director) work on the themes and offer these opportunities to the musicians and schools to work with.

What did you do?

12 x full days one-to-one sessions with pupils in 3 schools. 15 x full days creative sessions with all 6 schools with a performance in Haddo House. 

How did you link with the curriculum? 

The projects aren’t linked specifically with the curriculum but a few of the schools did take our theme as an opportunity for some school visits. At least 3 of the schools took trips to the Bennachie Centre as suggested by my own research (my family are local to the area) for some exploration of the theme and sounds. Some went for a walk up Bennachie, and one school changed the venue of their annual camping trip to Bennachie. 

What did the artists bring to the school? 

The Drake Music Scotland Associate Musicians bring their expertise in composition, music technology, group teaching and knowledge and ability to help those with additional needs to help with creative music making opportunities to work with the pupils in each of the schools. 

What did you have to work on in planning and delivery?

This project is one of our larger projects and it can take a lot of liaising with various people, musicians, schools, venues, Aberdeenshire Council and suppliers. We are coming up to our 4th year of the project in this format so each year gets easier as the schools know what to expect and they tend to stick to the same days. 

What worked well?

The project has worked really well this year and everyone was really on board. Last year was the first time we included a performance and that was a learning curve for some, including the pupils and the schools but this year it was like they were old pros. As I say above, the logistics of the project are getting easier year on year with everyone knowing what to expect. 

What changed as a result of the project?

Not a specific change to the project itself, but over the past few years of working with these pupils, particularly on the one-to-one part of the projects, some pupils have gained the confidence in their ability to play their instruments, that they are now attending a mainstream school and are able to work with mainstream peers and work towards SQA accreditation in their instruments. This has been made possible with the dedicated Drake Music Scotland Associate Musician, Abi Sinar and Figurenotes notation.

View more case studies available as part of this ArtWorks Scotland artists and teachers resource.