Alison Balsom is used to rapturous cheers and applause.
A multi-award-winning classical trumpeter - who has been voted Classic FM’s Female of the Year twice over - the 35-year-old has played in some of the world’s most prestigious concert halls since becoming a professional musician in 2001.
But at Hawthorn Primary School in Newcastle today, Alison’s young audience saved their biggest cheers for her rendition of Match of the Day - a classic, certainly, but perhaps not part of her classical repertoire.
“That was the first song I played at with my school band,” she laughed after being asked if she could play it by a member of the Hawthorn Symphony Orchestra during an afternoon Q&A session.
Alison had dropped in to hear the orchestra - made up of children from years three to six - play, and play for them herself before heading off to Sage Gateshead for the second date of her UK tour.
She brought a small selection of the “11 or 12” trumpets she has in her collection and was happy to demonstrate a number of styles for her captivated audience, made up of strings, woodwind and brass players.
“I thought you were brilliant,” she told them, after listening to a performance of Vivaldi’s Autumn. “I’ve never heard such a brilliant children’s orchestra.”
Hawthorn Symphony Orchestra was set up three years ago as part of the In Harmony network of projects, which use an immersive and intensive programme of musical education to increase the skills, opportunities and experiences open to children.
Funding from Arts Council England and Department for Education has bought a musical instrument for every child in the school and enabled music tutors from Sage Gateshead and the Newcastle and Northumberland Music Education Hub to work with the pupils, their parents and the school staff on a daily basis.
Head teacher Judy Cowgill, said: “The results are terrific - particularly in relation to the children’s concentration and of course how much they are enjoying themselves. We’re seeing benefits in all areas of their education.
“It’s incredible to have visits from people like Alison. It raises the children’s aspiration so much. Learning an instrument can be hard work, but here’s someone who started learning when she was seven too, and look what she can do.”
Funding for the In Harmony programme at Hawthorn runs out in March and the school is waiting to hear from the Department of Education as to whether it will be renewed or extended.