The Australian Romantic & Classical Orchestra is a leader in education for secondary and tertiary students, and in some cases primary aged children. Its youth orchestra, named Young Mannheim Symphonists, was founded in 2014 when approximately 60 enthusiastic school-aged musicians gathered for an afternoon to play through the first movement of Mozart’s HaffnerSymphony. After the first reading of this extraordinary music, the only thing that could be safely said was that it was in D Major.

Young Mannheim Symphonists

The students took the work to be a fairly ordinary Classical symphony, doing their utmost to demonstrate that ordinariness in spades: there was no sense of phrasing, no sense of line, no understanding of any dynamic range except forte and more forte.

The most important thing however was that, once we had rehearsed the first bar several times, the students had enthusiasm, energy and a desire to learn. To watch the scales fall from their eyes as they started to hear the music, as if for the first time, brought tears to my eyes. We refer to this as playing in an historically informed way or...