London’s English National Opera (ENO) will launch Finish This …, a new digital education project for pupils aged 7-11 this autumn, following a successful pilot scheme in 2020-21.
Finish This … is a new music-making programme that provides schools with opera, digital film, animation, learning resources and teacher CPD training, to support teachers in the delivery of new creative approaches to making music in the classroom.
Using ENO’s 2020 performance of Mozart’s Requiem – a work unfinished at Mozart’s death in 1791 and later completed by his student Franz Xaver Süssmayr in 1792 – as its inspiration, the programme takes specially commissioned operatic works as a creative starting point. Students are encouraged to create and produce their own music to respond to, and resolve, the unfinished work.
ENO provides a package of bespoke resources and teacher CPD training to enable students to take on the role of the composer, creating and recording their own original pieces in dialogue with the original work.
The new piece, Blue Red Yellow, is a fusion of opera, live action and animation. It has been written by composer Omar Shahryar and librettist and dramaturg Ruth Mariner, with illustrations by Alec Doherty and film editing and animation by Tmax Productions.
The multimedia work tells the story of a boy who receives a mysterious letter inviting him to be an ENO composer at the London Coliseum. He experiments with drawings and sounds as his musical ideas come to life around him. He becomes so immersed in his work that he gets lost inside it and disappears, leaving the work unfinished.
Pupils will work together and separately to express themselves through music and develop their listening and composition skills, ultimately producing their own works. These musical responses will then be presented as a short animated film, bringing their music composition to life.
The programme is being offered for free to all UK state primary schools. Eligible institutions can apply now via an online booking form; applications close on 30 June 2022. The project package comprises an educational film developed specifically for primary learners, music performed by the ENO Orchestra and Chorus, a composition toolkit, with digital and printed resources, a teacher learning resource pack, with additional cross-curriculum exercises, online CPD for teachers, introducing the toolkit and new approaches to music making in the classroom, and the opportunity to share pupils’ music compositions with parents, peers and the school community.
The national rollout of Finish This … follows a successful pilot scheme that took place in 2020 and 2021. ENO partnered with six schools in London and Luton, Hertfordshire, with 650 Key Stage 2 pupils taking part.
A Year 6 teacher at All Souls Church of England Primary School said of the project: “It has been fantastic! The children had so much fun – every step was accessible to them and allowed them to show their own personalities through their creativity. My class has previously struggled to work together as a team, but having this project gave pupils a focus for doing so and it brought the class together just when we needed that.”
The schools’ finished compositions, along with a selection of pupils’ artworks and graphics to accompany their pieces, are available to view on ENO’s website.
“I liked making the actual music. It was fun because you can test out new ways, and be more creative. I liked that when we were making the music it gave us a variety of options. More choice … more creative.” said one Year 6 pupil at Icknield Primary School in Luton.
A Year 3 pupil at Rushey Green Primary School in south-east London added: “We’ve never done anything like this before and I like trying something new, it’s fun.”
English National Opera’s new free educational programme Finish This … is now open for applications from all UK state primary schools.