Young musicians of the year competition go back to school

Cellists Sheku Kanneh-Mason (right)  with Guy Johnston   Photo credit to Benjamin Ealovega

Two former winners of the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition Sheku Kanneh-Mason and Guy Johnston performed with Lambeth children at Ashmole Primary School. 

Cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason is only 21 years old, but he’s already become the first cellist ever to reach the top 10 of UK’s album chart, with his new album “Elgar” which puts him up there with Stormzy.

He is Ambassador of London Music Masters (LMM), a music education charity teaching 1300 children from disadvantaged schools every week to play the violin or cello.

As an advocate of music education for young people, Sheku visited Ashmole Primary School in Lambeth last week (12 March). He performed a special commission, “Until a Reservoir No Longer Remains”, with cellist Guy Johnston by composer Emma-Ruth Richards, before working with year 3 and 4 musicians to create their own piece inspired by this composition.

Composer Emma-Ruth Richards said: “Feedback from the children and teachers was tremendously positive. We were able to excite the children with physical warm up sessions, exploration of various extended techniques and compositional activities, and we created space for them to play alongside Sheku and Guy using ideas from the piece “.

Emma added: “I think the most important aspect of workshops like this is enthusiasm to keep practising and for the children to feel encouraged and motivated to be the best they can be at their instrument. Practising can sometimes feel like a lonely and arduous task that demands a lot of attention, so it is a wonderful thing for children to be able to put their hard work into an ensemble setting, have creative input into the music they play and perform for their classmates. It was also important to me that the young cellists could hear live music being played on their instrument up close and personal with two great cellists like Guy and Skeku.”

As a result of London Music Master’s (LMM’s) work, 94% of parents say their child has displayed increased concentration and enhanced teamwork skills. The charity has also recently launched Team Teach, a new course in group instrument teaching, which has been designed to create a culture of excellence in classrooms.