Set in the rolling Worcestershire countryside, National Trust -The Firs, the Elgar Birthplace Museum is a magical spot, with superb views of the Malvern Hills. The peace and tranquility of this setting was only slightly disturbed on Monday when Year 5, accompanied by Mrs Etherington, Mrs Gunter and Mrs Kilbey, arrived for a visit!
The children have been studying the life and work of Worcester’s very own Sir Edward Elgar in their Music lessons. They have loved finding out about how this great composer rose from humble beginnings to become one of the most famous composers in the world. Elgar’s story demonstrates many of the key growth mindset qualities we strive to develop at King’s St Alban’s, not least resilience, perseverance and determination. The children have enjoyed discovering works such as The Enigma Variations and the Wand of Youth Suites and have relished the opportunity to explore some of Elgar’s ideas in their own creative work.
They were keen to find out more about Elgar and his life, and the convenient location of The Firs made this an ideal research trip. Prior to the visit, the children discussed which aspects of his life and work they hoped to explore in more detail, devising their own questions and taking ownership of their learning. Both the cottage and the main exhibition centre provided a wealth of detail and gave them the chance to view artefacts such as original manuscripts, old instruments (including Elgar’s own violin, an organette and an aeolian harp), Elgar’s books and scientific equipment and other items from throughout his life. They were fascinated to discover that Elgar had been quite a naughty pupil at school and that he had a great many hobbies, including cycling, walking, science and dogs. One pupil commented, “I think he would have been a really interesting man. I wish I could have met him”.
The picturesque cottage gardens provided a well-earned brain-break from the exhibitions and everyone made the most of the opportunity for some quiet sketching around the cottage and summer house. The beautiful sensory garden was popular too, containing a variety of percussion instruments set between the trees – a great opportunity to make some noise after all the calm learning!
A picnic in the grounds, only slightly curtailed by a sudden shower, was the perfect way to round off a lovely and highly educational visit.