In this remarkable year for the Royal Air Force - its 100th birthday - the RAF Salon Orchestra is commemorating, celebrating and inspiring thousands of children by hosting as many school liaison concerts in the local community as possible. So far the Salon Orchestra has visited 18 primary schools across the London Borough of Hillingdon and 3 International Schools in the Middle East.
The 6 members of the orchestra have entertained school children with a visual array of Royal Air Force musicians' uniforms, music from Disney films, some marching to the evocative RAF March Past and quick-fire questions on the musical instruments and the history of the Royal Air Force. These schools liaison concerts not only teach the children about the significance of this centenary year of the Royal Air Force, they also raise awareness and encourage enthusiasm about what we as the RAF Salon Orchestra and Air Force musicians do for a living and the benefits of a career in the Royal Air Force, as well as the greater good that the Force brings to the wider world. The concerts have all culminated in a quick-fire question-and-answer session to test the children and the RAF100 prizes certainly keep them listening and waving their hands in the air to demonstrate what they have learned.
It was a pleasure to attend one of the concerts for the excellent initiative by the Royal Air Force Salon Orchestra in promoting RAF100 to the young people of the Borough. The concerts were informative and interesting but even more importantly - they were fun. What better way to inspire the future generation than by demonstrating in music, the professionalism, talent and humour of the Royal Air Force.
Flight Lieutenant Chris I'Anson
In a speech delivered by the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, outlining his vision for RAF100, he explained the ethos at the heart of the campaign, which is to commemorate, celebrate and inspire. RAF100 commemorates those who have gone before, celebrates the current Royal Air Force and aims to inspire future generations. This ethos is what inspired the Salon Orchestra’s school concerts initiative, led by Sergeant Justine Stringer. Through these concerts, the orchestra commemorates the Royal Air Force by teaching school children aspects of the its illustrious 100-year history, celebrates the Force through music, and most importantly they aim to inspire the school children.
The Salon Orchestra has even taken their initiative international. Back in April they met and performed with children at the British School Al Khubairat (BSAK), Abu Dhabi and they have just returned from Saudi Arabia where they performed for the children at the British International School Riyadh (BISR) and also the primary school on the MODSAP Salwa Garden Village compound.
I feel very fortunate that we have been able to reach out to thousands of children in this way for RAF100. Many of the schools have stated that they do not have enough live music as part of their curriculum and have loved all elements of the concerts.
Sergeant Justine Stringer
The Salon Orchestra has more local primary schools to visit and the musicians are very much looking forward to continuing their initiative during the lead up to Christmas.
Article by Senior Aircraftwoman Emily Pentreath