Music Is The Great Leveller

Penny Rawlings and Preludes children

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 currently runs in the following schools:
Oasis Academy Brislington 
Oasis Academy Connaught
Easton CE Primary School
Ilminster Avenue 
Mulberry Park Educate Together
Redfield Educate Together
Somerdale Educate Together
St Nicholas of Tolentine 
St Mathias Academy – LEAP


  • Penny Rawlings
    Penny founded Preludes in 2009 with Charlie Groves in two Bristol schools. Since then the project has grown and grown, and now provides thousands of children across Bristol and Bath … Read more
  • Charlie Groves
    Charlie is our second longest serving music leader on the Preludes team, having worked with us for 12 years! As well as being a fantastic songwriter and arranger of music … Read more
  • Charlotte Dunling
    Charlotte Dunling is a clarinettist with a passion for sharing music with people from all walks of life. She has worked for Preludes for the past four years as a … Read more
  • Liz Britton
    Liz has recently begun work as a freelance musician, after completing an MA (Distinction) in Medieval Musicology at the University of Bristol. Working primarily as a piano and vocal teacher … Read more
  • Oli Cocup
    Oli is a professional drummer who has been playing the kit for 18 years. He has toured Europe with multiple bands, with Japan coming up next year, and played some … Read more
  • Ellen O’Brien
    Ellen is a community musician with a passion for inclusivity and accessibility. Primarily a French Horn player, she enjoys teaching brass, piano and anything in between! Ellen recently graduated with … Read more
  • Jo Fallowfield
    After a career in the TV industry, Jo came back to music and have been teaching violin and piano privately for 15 years. She has been working with Preludes since … Read more
  • Helen Pidoux
    Helen Pidoux graduated from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire as a classically trained violinist. She has worked for Preludes for two years as a string and keyboard tutor. Alongside her work … Read more
  • Emma Davies
    Emma is a clarinettist and passionate community musician who recently graduated with a Masters from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. She joined the Preludes team in 2017 … Read more
  • Daniel Elston
    Daniel Elston is a professional drummer with a degree from the British and Irish Modern Music Institute. Starting with Preludes as a drum tutor in 2016, he became a classroom … Read more
  • Luke Woolley
    Luke is professional musician, performer, DJ & tutor who discovered his passion for music at a young age. Since graduating from the British Institute of Modern Music (BIMM), Luke has … Read more
  • Kat Kleve
    Born and raised in Bristol, Kat attended Cotham School before studying musical theatre at the prestigious Guildford School of Acting. Since graduating, Kat has gone on to perform as an … Read more
  • Sara Ratcliffe
    Sara has worked for preludes for 4 years. She studied music at Plymouth University and plays the piano, guitar and flute. Alongside her Preludes work she teaches piano and guitar … Read more
  • Ian Maslen
    After helping out with a concert in 2016 Ian left his job as a science teacher to start working with Preludes. He now works in schools across Bristol, delivering piano, … Read more


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.’

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.

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.

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.

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