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Open Orchestra Project

A mutually beneficial partnership between Charterhouse and Treloar's School and College.

The Treloar Trust provides education, care, therapy, medical support and independence training to young people with physical disabilities from all over the UK and overseas.  The majority of students at Treloar’s use wheelchairs and around 50% have no speech and use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). 

 

Aims

To provide Charterhouse students with knowledge and understanding of those with disabilities and that they would see this as a beneficial experience for all involved. 

Background

The Treloar Trust provides education, care, therapy, medical support and independence training to young people with physical disabilities from all over the UK and overseas.  The majority of students at Treloar’s use wheelchairs and around 50% have no speech and use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). 

Treloar's was approached by Charterhouse school to collaborate in a music project where a number of Charterhouse students would work with Treloar’s Open Orchestra.  Many of the students worked with the Charterhouse students, and on the same piece of music. 

 

 

Resources

Two teaching staff every week for around two hours throughout 2019-20. 

Impact

Treloar’s Director of Music,  Jocelyn Watkins writes:

In the past I have had a number of offers from other schools to come and to perform to our students, as a one off event; in my view this often highlights the differences that may exist between the two parties and does not allow our students to perform with, rather watch, others.  When Charterhouse got in touch their outlook was to provide their own students with knowledge and understanding of those with disabilities and that they would see this as a beneficial experience for all involved.  To this end they committed to coming once a week to work with us.

One of our main aims was to educate and allow communication between both parties and use music as a tool to do this.  In the initial stages there was considerable time given to ensure each of the students was comfortable communicating, especially given that the majority of the Treloar Open Orchestra students are non-verbal and use AAC devices.  The Charterhouse students also learned about different disabilities and how these affect students physically and cognitively. 

Over the weeks and terms that we worked together the students started to build relationships and our Treloar students were always excited to see their orchestra buddy.  On some occasions the Charterhouse students would perform on their own musical instruments at the end of a session and explain how they worked. 

They were ably led by their charismatic and kind Director of Music.  He was invaluable in supporting his own students to understand what was required of them, to help with any explanations needed as well as working individually with a number of our students. 

There was much fun and laughter in our sessions and the experience was positive for all.  We created some magical musical moments and all students greatly benefited from the work we did together.

(Treloar's School Open Orchestra performing in October 2020 - YouTube)   

 

Pupil Involvement

Around 8 pupils aged 13-18 from Charterhouse and a similar number from Treloar's.

Frequency

The activity started in 2019 and then paused during the pandemic. However, the two institutions are planning to restart musical activities from summer 2021.