National Centre for Early Music

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Musical Play in a Week


A highlight of the NCEM Learning and Participation programme is the annual Musical Play in a Week Summer School, which has been running since 2001. The Musical Play in a Week provides opportunities for young people, aged 10-15, to collaborate with early music specialists and theatre professionals, to put on a historically-informed play combining acting, instrumental music and singing. Young people meet daily (10am - 4pm) to develop and rehearse the production and the project culminates in a performance for family, friends and invited guests on the final evening.

As well as having a strong emphasis on fun during the week, the Summer School encourages creative learning, building young people's theatrical and musical skills and increasing their awareness of the discipline required to work in a performing arts setting. Participants experience at first hand the process of creating a production and the teamwork that is required to achieve this. Working intensively with their peers also helps the development of social and negotiating skills, necessary to achieve a common purpose.

Young people have given very positive feedback about their experiences and learning:

  • If you love music and acting, I would definitely recommend it!
  • It's a very fun experience with kind staff. Really built my confidence.
  • I loved meeting new people and working as a team to make it all happen.
  • It brings together a great story with old music - it's super fun and you make loads of new friends.
  • It's fun as you learn about old songs and history while also acting and being creative.
  • I learnt more singing techniques and about how to sing in a large group, as well as singing in different languages for the first time;
  • I loved that feeling at the end of the performance! So proud of myself!
Parents have also had great things to say over the years!
  • Best week of the Summer Holiday, my daughter tells me - exciting, challenging, fun and she makes new friends.
  • Wonderful enthusiasm and hard work! My son has been singing and talking about it all week. What a terrific enterprise!
  • Brilliant! My daughter was full of enthusiasm by the end of day one. She has been buzzing all week.
  • A great opportunity for all to experience early music in a fun setting.
  • What an excellent performance! It gripped us from beginning to end. Entertaining to the highest degree!

Performances to date have included:
The Kenilworth Secret (2016)
The Sun King and the Busker (2015)
The Secret Orchestra (2014)
Trooper Jane (2013)
An Air of Mystery (2012)
The Kenilworth Secret (2011)
Oak Apple Day (2010)
Handel's Time Machine (2009)
The Quest (2008)
Arabian Nights (2007)
The Box of Delights (2006)
Telling Tales (2005)
The Bakerstreet Irregulars (2004)
Clockwork (2003)
Blacklight Theatre Company (2002)
The Midnight Folk (2001)