Open Orchestra was created in 2013 to address the lack of ensemble provision in special schools. It is an award-winning program that provides a safe and engaging space for young people with autism and disabilities to come together and create interesting and satisfying music. Since September 2018, Beverley School has been working in conjunction with Middlesbrough Town Hall and Priory Woods School to develop a Middlesbrough based Open Orchestra. Every Friday afternoon, a group of pupils from Beverley school join pupils from Priory Woods at Middlesbrough Town Hall for a weekly orchestra practice. The Orchestra is lead by Ben Hopkinson, a professional musician and teacher. In addition to the collective rehearsal, pupils involved also have small group instrumental lessons with Ben on a Friday morning.
So far Middlesbrough Open Orchestra has successfully performed a number of times at Middlesbrough Town hall and Emirates Stadium in Durham. The orchestra has also made a recording of an original piece written by one of the pupils called Lost in the Woods. The quality of music produced has been outstanding and audiences have been very impressed with the standard of musicianship from our young people.
As well as musical development, attending Open Orchestra has had positive effects on pupil’s confidence, social engagement, focus, team work, enjoyment and feelings of belonging. It is an opportunity for pupils from Beverley School to engage with pupils from elsewhere in a neutral environment. Friendships and togetherness have developed between pupils within the orchestra. The project has become a big success for all those involved.