CHILDREN from village schools across Wiltshire have been taking part in music projects culminating in public performances this week.

Run by Wiltshire Music Centre, Wiltshire Music Connect and the WOMAD Foundation, 21 state schools, each with less than 120 pupils, have been working with artists in residence to enjoy a creative learning programme with new approaches to making music.

Four members of the Zimbabwean performing arts group SIYAYA have been working in schools since the beginning of the year. Each school has had three workshops given by the Bulawayo-based artists, who sing, dance, drum and play percussion instruments while giving the children insights into the cultural heritage of their homeland and teaching them songs in their Ndebele/ Zulu language.

Annie Menter, director of the WOMAD Foundation, said: “It has been wonderful to see the reaction of these young people to SIYAYA: the passion and enthusiasm of the artists has really touched them. “The children have been able to contextualize the music and dance and see it as part of a wider picture offering fantastic opportunities for cross-curricular work, which has relevance to many other subject areas.”

Among the south Wiltshire schools taking part were Shrewton, Morgan’s Vale and Woodfalls, Whiteparish and Newton Tony primary schools.

All the children have a chance to showcase their work at the Wiltshire Music Centre in Bradford on Avon or St John’s Theatre in Marlborough.

Tamsin Oldham, creative learning manager for Wiltshire Music Centre, who has directed the small schools festivals, said: “This has been a really valuable education programme which has helped smaller state primary schools, often with limited resources for music education, to venture into new musical territory and to encourage child and adult participation and develop new areas of cultural engagement.

“We have been delighted by the commitment and positive response of those taking part.”