The show, entitled Royal Academy of Detectives, is based on the Year 3 topic of ‘history of communication’, and sees three groups set off to find the keys to communication in order to graduate as detectives. Year 3 performed the musical for the first time in front of their entire school, who enjoyed a school trip to the Academy.

In autumn last year, Hold the Drama (pictured left rehearsing with Academy students) began working with Netley's year 3 class, helping them to gather materials, themes and songs, collating them into a new musical based on the children's response to Hold the Drama’s show, Stripes. Then, across the spring term, the pupils rehearsed Royal Academy of Detectives with the support of Academy students, who also took on important stage roles in the production. This project concluded with last week’s performance in the Susie Sainsbury Theatre.

The goals of this project were to introduce the pupils to the social and emotional benefits of playing music together, and allow them to develop their own piece as part of a team and perform it to a high standard in a theatre setting. On the day of the performance, the children of Netley Primary School were also given the opportunity to learn more about the Academy and the broad range of careers in the creative industry.

'It was a great pleasure and privilege for us to work with Year 3, their teachers and Academy students across the last four months. Seeing their confidence in singing and acting grow over the course of the project was amazing. The Academy students went from strength to strength, both in their engagement with the children and performing on stage with them as cast and band. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to open up the theatre space to children and shine a spotlight on the amazing work that Open Academy does.'

Hold the Drama

Hold the Drama was formed in 2018 by six Academy alumni after they completed a year as Fellows of Open Academy. The group creates inclusive performances that help audiences make sense of thoughts and feelings that might not always be easy to put into words. Together, the Hold the Drama team have worked on projects performing and devising music with people of all ages in association with some of London’s leading concert venues including the Wigmore Hall, Glyndebourne Opera, The Royal Festival Hall and the Royal Albert Hall. Read our recent Alumni Spotlight interview with Hold the Drama here.

'This was a very exciting project for us; our contact at Netley had asked me about the possibility of children at the school being able to be part of the creative process in putting together a piece for performance at the Academy. When she suggested working with the subject of mental health and well-being, then I knew that Hold the Drama were the people to lead the process. Seeing the children and their teachers together on stage alongside our own students at the Academy was great - they were clearly fully invested in the piece, and their energy and enthusiasm was brilliant.'

Julian West, Head of Open Academy

Open Academy, our community and participation department, works with around 6,000 people beyond our enrolled students and staff each year. As the importance of participatory and community music programmes continues to grow both in the UK and internationally, it is crucial that our students have the opportunity to obtain skills and experience in this exciting and expanding area of work. Open Academy electives are available at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, offering seminars and workshops alongside hands-on experience in the field. We also offer fellowships to graduating students who will be the future leaders of this work. Find out more about Open Academy here.