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New Creative Project Brings Together Education, Music and Industry

  • Date: 13/01/2017
  • Category: General

Derby-based regional orchestra Sinfonia Viva has teamed up with world-leading power systems company Rolls-Royce plc, Derbyshire Music Education Hub and Derby Museums to launch a creative project that focuses on bringing science, technology and maths to life through music.

The project, entitled ‘Mechanical Advantage’ has been inspired by the gears, levers and pulleys aspects of the key stage two national curriculum following feedback from school teachers about the need to tackle the subject in a more creative way.

Years five and six pupils at Firs Estate and Becket primary schools, and students from Chellaston Academy and Derby College are working with Viva musicians to compose songs and music on the themes.

They will perform these on February 7 alongside a Sinfonia Viva chamber orchestra at Derby Theatre with a matinee concert for other schools in the city and then at a public concert in the evening.

Sinfonia Viva, Derby’s Grammy-nominated orchestra, will be conducted by Frank Zielhorst, and will also perform pieces by Ravel, Brahms, Andriessen, and ‘Adjustable Wrench’ by Michael Torke.

To launch the project, school and college students recently joined an ‘inspiration day’ at Derby Museum and Art Gallery where they tried out the practical with Rolls-Royce STEM ambassadors.

The students also worked with Viva musicians and composer James Redwood who introduced the songs and music that he has composed with words written by Hazel Gould.

They then went on to gather in the Museum’s Joseph Wright of Derby Gallery to learn more about the work of the famous 18th century painter and philosopher who was acclaimed as the first professional painter to express the spirit of the Industrial Revolution.

The young people are now attending workshops to learn and further develop three songs which they will perform at the concert alongside other pieces that the pupils are writing themselves for the performance.

James Redwood explained: “The inspiration for the project has been led by our partner schools.

“They told us that that teaching the concepts of gears, levers and pulleys was often a challenge for both teachers and pupils and that they would therefore greatly benefit from approaching this subject matter in a more creative way.

“The three songs explain the science and technology in a rhythmical and fun way which bring the subject to life.”

Rolls-Royce Engineer and STEM Ambassador Carl Muldal continued: “By incorporating scientific messages in a musical context we hope that teachers and pupils alike will be able to look at this subject in a new light. This would give them a better understand of the mechanics behind processes that are a part of everyday life.”

“The accompanying work pack that we have developed then uses experiments and games to show how gears, levers and pulleys work in a simple and engaging way.”

Fellow Rolls-Royce Engineer Caroline Van Ingen continued: “It is easy to be fixated on the science and maths aspect of a subject like this and forget that gears, levers and pulleys are used in everyday life and for things  we take for granted.

“By bringing the subject out of the classroom and into a music workshop, it will hopefully show young people that science and maths is a relatable subject that can be fun and interactive. This will help encourage students to consider possible rewarding STEM careers.”

Liz Stewart is lead KS2 teacher at Becket Primary School in Derby. She continued: “Having worked with Sinfonia Viva on a number of creative projects in the past, we suggested developing a residency that addressed an aspect of the curriculum that can be very difficult to teach and to learn.

“It is a complicated subject so bringing it to life through music will, I am sure, inspire teachers to tackle this with more confidence back in the classroom and enable the pupils to appreciate the science behind it without even realising that they are learning.”

Sinfonia Viva Education Manager Marianne Barraclough concluded: “As an Orchestra with a national reputation for education work, we pride ourselves on taking truly collaborative approach to our work.

“All of our education work is linked closely to the National Curriculum but this project is even more special as it involves education, music and engineering professionals in creating new performance work and classroom-based activities.

“Education projects such as these not only provide a wonderful creative and learning experience for the young participants – they also enable teachers to further develop their own artistic and leadership skills, and to take these beyond the life of the project.”

Tickets for the evening performance are available at


Media enquiries: Sarah Jenkin-Jones, JJPR, Tel: 01332 515102/07951 945665;

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