Music Is The Great Leveller

Preludes, the education arm of the Bristol Ensemble, works in areas of Bristol that are experiencing high levels of economic disadvantage and aims to put music at the heart of every child’s education. By doing so we improve confidence, co-ordination, speech and language and benefit all other areas of their learning.

It has been running successfully since 2009 in several schools areas of Bristol. It is the most extensive project of its type in the country and grew from discussions between Roger Huckle of the Bristol Ensemble, Professor Leslie Bunt of the University of the West of England and James Wetz a former Head Teacher.

Preludes is delivered by a growing team of dedicated professionals, managed by Penny Rawlings with the assistance of Charlie Groves and Jo Fallowfield.


Preludes and the Lark

St Bernard’s RC Primary School lies just across the road from Shirehampton Village Hall. The children there have been part of the Bristol Ensemble’s Lark Ascending Education Project and have been learning all about Vaughan Williams. They have listened to a video recording of the music made by the Bristol Ensemble and been highly creative with some beautiful artwork depicting larks, landscapes and birds. One Year group have been studying WW1 and decided to study Vaughan Williams and his part in the war. They have all written very moving letters to Vaughan Williams about both his music and his role in WW1. They have all loved the music. Here are some of the paintings and letters from these children.

Ronnie Scott's Charitable Foundation

Ronnie Scott’s Charitable Foundation

In October 2019, children from Lawrence Weston took part in a half term jazz project, supported by Ronnie Scott’s Charitable Foundation. Read more about the project here

How You Can Help

Preludes projects are solely funded by charitable donations. The more funds we raise the more children and young people we can support with life-enriching musical experiences and education. Please donate via the website or get in touch via if you would like to discuss how you can support us.’

Preludes schools rehearsing at St Mary Redcliffe before performing in the afternoon to a full house 2018 Charlie on the keyboard Oasis Long Cross string club blended with Redfield year 3 strings 2018

We began by providing an all-inclusive, structured musical education to the Reception intake of 2009. Each year we start again with the new Reception children, whilst continuing with the children already in school so that gradually the whole school is becoming more involved with music. All the children in the project are given the opportunity to learn to read music and to play an instrument in group and individual sessions. Every child is included in this process. The original children are now performing as an orchestra with violins, cellos, brass, recorders and percussion.

Trumpets playing Trolls, Orcs and Goblins Cellos tango-ing with the Bristol Ensemble Pre-concert entertainment at the Colston Hall with the Bristol Ensemble

In 2014 our combined year 3 orchestra performed twice in the Colston Hall with the Bristol Ensemble and world-renowned pianist Freddie Kempf.  And here are some of the Preludes children rehearsing at St George’s Bristol for the Bristol Junior Schools Christmas Concert.

Rehearsing at St George's Bristol Rehearsing at St George's Rehearsing at St George's Bristol

The Preludes project performances are helping to boost parental involvement in school life and this has a positive impact on both communities.

As well as giving the children valuable musical skills we are aiming to give them enjoyable and uplifting life experiences in which their families can share.

Some of the children at Merchants Academy were inspired to write their own music after playing rhythms with Penny and Charlie Some of the children at Merchants Academy were inspired to write their own music after playing rhythms with Penny and Charlie Some of the children at Merchants Academy were inspired to write their own music after playing rhythms with Penny and Charlie

We share with them great music, they are great kids and they deserve great futures.

Hello, goodbye! Ebony Tunnicliffe, one of the Preludes children, singing a solo at the Colston Hall Juniors summer concert Redfield ET school choir singing “Peace in my fingers”

Kate Watt from the Bristol Ensemble captivated the audience with the sound of the harp ... and so do children! Sleepy time to Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony

Charlie, Dylan, Ian and Jo playing for Lawrence Weston Christmas bonanza 2017 Violins at Cabot Circus 2017 Cellos at Cabot Circus 2017

... and very big! The bassoon is hard to blow... Formation playing