This is from Julian West, Head of Open Academy, the Royal Academy of Music’s creative learning and participation programme:

What a wonderful performance. It was full of beautiful and unexpected music, performed with commitment and virtuosity. Thanks to the approach taken by Hold the Drama, the children were able to connect directly with the emotion, expression and meaning of the pieces in a way that I have rarely seen before. It was completely unnecessary to ‘explain’ the music, and so refreshing to see a performance for primary school children that treated them as intelligent, emotional beings who are capable of having their own responses to music.

Judith Glossop, Joint Head of Service at Waltham Forest Music Service, came to see our performance for Argyle Primary School at the Royal Academy of Music:

What a fantastic dramatic performance, and some really current issues dealt with in a unique way.

Louise Keller, a UKCP & BACP Registered Child & Adolescent Psychotherapist, came to watch Stripes at South Grove Primary School during the Waltham Forest Summer Tour:

I had the privilege of seeing Hold the Drama perform to Years 3&4 at Waltham Forest. The children were enrapt from beginning to end and it was incredibly moving to see the whole group burst into spontaneous song as they recognised one of the pieces played. The play is a fantastic vehicle for children to explore important themes around identity, friendship and collaboration. 

At a time when the emotional wellbeing of children and development of resilience couldn’t be more pressing, every primary school in the UK would be wise to include ‘Stripes’ as an essential part of their mental health programme.

Typically, our comments come from children during the Q&A following the show. We’ve performed to more than 2000 children from over 20 schools – the comments below are a selection from feedback forms from our tour of Waltham Forest, as well as some completed for Spitalfields Music by the children at Cannon Barnett School in Tower Hamlets.

What did you enjoy most about the assembly?

“I enjoyed the music part because it was really dramatic and now I know how to make music into words.”

“I enjoyed the music because I learnt how to express my feelings in music.”

“I enjoyed the feelings that you could hear in the music.”

“I enjoyed everything because it made me feel better about being different and I really felt the emotion”

I enjoyed when everyone stood up and the part where [Edward sang] so wonderfully because I never heard anyone’s voice like that in my life

I enjoyed when everyone found out what they liked because they were free

What did you learn from the assembly?

“What I learnt is that you should always be equal and be free. Also, you can’t judge anyone by what they are wearing.”

“That you shouldn’t all be the same, you should express yourself and let it out.”

“That everyone can do their own thing and that I can sing.”

“That being different can bring people together more and being unique can be great.

I learnt that you can do what you want not what someone else wants

I learnt that you don’t have to be all the same because they would be boring instead we should all be different

I learned that you can tell a story with music and with no words, that means music can tell everything

Has the project changed how you think about or treat other people?

“Yes. It helps me a lot for treating people the same way you are treated.”

“It has changed me because it was a great experience.”

“Yes, as some people feel upset about what I done and now I know how they feel.”

“Yes, because now I know how to treat people with music.”