The Youths Lutes and Ukes workshops were piloted in 2013: 372 young people aged 5-11 years old across 11 schools in London and York strummed and plucked the ukulele, wrote their own words to an epic blues narrative, sang an ancient love song, danced a jig and came together and performed with a professional ensemble in front of their friends and family.
The pilot was supported by the SHM Foundation in partnership with Lewisham and East Riding Music Hubs as well as the National Centre for Early Music.
What is Youths Lutes and Ukes?
The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain and Theatre of the Ayre team up as the ensemble ‘Lutes ‘n’ Ukes’ in this series of workshops in schools, aimed at giving students and teachers the tools to make music together long-term. The workshops are held by members of these professional ensembles and timed to coincide with a Lutes ‘n’ Ukes concert in the region.
The Youths Lutes and Ukes workshop series emphasises the creation of a sustainable music-making culture in participating schools. Workshops are attended by both students and teachers and extra training and resources are given to teachers with a number of follow-up visits designed to enable them to self-direct the scheme long-term.
The workshops were built around the Lutes ‘n’ Ukes ensemble’s current area of research: the relationship between composition in early music and blues, embodied in the form of two famous Robert Johnsons: one a 1930s bluesman said to have sold his soul to the devil, another the chief songwriter and lute player to William Shakespeare.
The series culminates in a local concert incorporating a Lutes ‘n’ Ukes showcase, participants showcase, and a joint performance with participants and Lutes ‘n’ Ukes players.
© Eddie Rolmanis