Great music, great kids, great futures

Blended brass playing one of Dylan’s super compositions – Peas and Rhinos 2018

Preludes is a bold and innovative music project that has been running successfully since 2009 in several schools areas of Bristol experiencing high levels of disadvantage. 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.

The aim is to put classical music at the heart of every child’s education and by doing so improve confidence, co-ordination, speech and language and benefit all other areas of their learning.

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

In October 2018, Preludes was part of  an event involving all eight Oasis schools in Bristol who joined forces in a stunning concert to celebrate Oasis “Inspire Day” and to remember the end of WW1.

The concert included the premiere of a new anthem by Dylan Jones called Magic Answer.

The concert was performed by Oasis schools’ choirs totalling 180 children plus performers from Bankleaze School and Long Cross School on brass and strings.

Preludes ran a poetry competition alongside the musical activities to inspire children to write about war and peace. The poems were judged by Lucy English who lectures in creative writing at Bath University. There were lots of beautiful poems, some of which were read during the concert.

INSPIRE is a peace-making initiative for young people, schools and communities. Its aim is to empower young people to promote peace in local communities and the world.
The Oasis Academies in Bristol have been working with the Preludes Music Project, run by Bristol Ensemble, to provide students with music lessons and help them practise for the event.

“Music is all about co-operation and working together in a team. A concert is a poignant way to celebrate unity and encourage young people to collaborate with peers, those in authority and their local communities to build peace.”
Inspire cover Inspire cover Inspire cover

These are some of the lovely designs done by Oasis children for the programme cover.

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.

Preludes requires significant funding to run and to ensure we can continue to make it available and to develop it further. We have been successful in gaining the support of a number of Trusts and Foundations as part of our on-going fundraising campaign, which also includes fundraising events and donations from private individuals.

For further information and to hear how you might be able to support Preludes, please contact Project Director Penny Rawlings on 07748 142213 or email

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