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Community / Hopes for schools music festival to return in 2022

The Bell's Brae Primary School at last year's festival. Photo: Davie Gardner
The Bell's Brae Primary School at a previous festival. Photo: Davie Gardner

IN A NORMAL year, Mareel should have been ringing with the sound of instruments and singing at the annual schools music festival.

But the March event has cancelled for a second time and put back to 2022 due to the ongoing effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Noelle Henderson from the Shetland Schools Music Festival committee said, however, that creative music making has still been taking place over the past year, with music lessons taking place remotely or to a number of pupils in schools.

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“In particular it has been difficult for woodwind, brass, pipes and singing which hasn’t been allowed under current restrictions,” she said.

“Both teachers and pupils alike have been learning new skills to enable them to continue making music via a virtual platform.

“Some live lessons have been taking place in schools when the rules have allowed and class music has also continued with music teachers coming up with creative music making ideas to keep lessons fun and keep pupils engaged.

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“It is one thing for pupils to be playing to a screen at home with albeit their own instructor or teacher on the screen but quite another bringing pupils together to play with the energy that is created around these events like the music festival.

“Where the emphasis and spirit of the festival has been to give pupils the chance to play live on a professional stage and enjoy the experience of a supportive and appreciative audience.”

Henderson said the week of the festival normally sees around 1,000 participants taking part in a range of solo, duet and group classes culminating in a gala concert.

In previous years audiences have also looked forward to seeing the film with highlights from the week made by students from the UHI film course, which is shown at the gala concert.

“It is very much hoped that next year will see the return of the Shetland Schools’ Music Festival and for Mareel to be full of young people playing their instruments and being inspired by other young musicians,” Henderson said, “while also giving families and friends a chance once again to gather together socially and enjoy some fantastic playing by the young people in Shetland.”

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