As a Rural Music School, we reach out across the county of Dorset, engaging young musicians and school pupils from Early Years through to Sixth form. We enjoy developing themed cross-curricular projects for schools, providing our musicians to work with pupils on all kinds of topics that support classroom learning.  We understand that school staff are busy people and we provide strong, well coordinated timelines complete with ready made resources.

We invite schools to let their imaginations fly, sharing their requests with us so that we can develop a vibrant creative network through music that supports learning, team building, social skills and a general feel good factor!

Four children performing on stage
Four smiling children in white t shirts with school logo holding crafted animal banners

Current projects

The Dorset Folk Project

Fiddles and Whistles

An exciting opportunity for eight pupils from a participating school to dip their toes into the instrumental world of Folk.
Launch this January 2024, pupils choose either the Whistle or the Fiddle to study from scratch on a twice weekly basis with Colin Thompson (Fiddle) or Alastair Simpson (Tin Whistle).
At the end of their learning journey, pupils will perform Live with their very own professional Folk Ensemble, led by our Patron, Tim Laycock in our Celebratory Concert on 22nd March 2024 in Blandford Parish Church.

Happy child plays the violin in an outside setting


Storytelling is a powerful way to raise awareness of our local Heritage.
We, at the Dorset Rural Music School, feel it is important for young people to understand more of their roots, and what better way to begin than with Tim Laycock and the Great Fire of Blandford ….. a true story told by Tim with musical punctuation.
This element of the Dorset Folk Project is now being piloted with pupils in participating schools throughout the Spring term of 2024.

Illustration showing fantasy-style fairytale scene depicting a child riding a pelican in a wood

DRMS Young Ambassadors

We are proud of our inspirational Ambassadors!

Mentored by Director Ellen Marsden, our Ambassadors are talented young musicians who visit schools as performers, playing in classrooms and assemblies to inspire pupils and talk with them about what it’s like to play an instrument, their aspirations and their musical journeys.

Our pioneers are Ukrainian Pianist, Denys Voitsekhovskyi (17) Oboist, Ella Ward (17) and Singer, Grace Seeley (17).

Please take time to watch and listen to a very special concert performance, given by Denys in November 2022 in the home of his wonderful English hosts. Denys arrived in the summer of 2022 not speaking a word of English.
Less than six months later he presented his recital and shared with us his musical story.
We are thrilled that Denys began his studies at Trinity Laban, London, in September 2023. Congratulations Denys, we are so proud of you!

We welcome all schools to sign up to meet our Young Ambassadors, please contact Director Ellen Marsden for further information.

Young women holding oboe
Ella Ward

The Rural Village Schools Choir

This exciting project is now introducing school children to the Folk traditions of our county, highlighting our local Heritage and connections to the stunning Dorset landscape. Pupils are discovering the poetry, inspiration and rich harmonies that characterise Dorsets Folk scene, as well as exploring the Dorset dialect.

A powerful team building initiative, this project draws small village school communities together through song. Children develop their singing voices, focus upon a shared performing goal, learn more about their unique environment and celebrate with a fabulous performing opportunity.

Participating schools are receiving weekly visits from tutors over a six week timeline.
Each school learns
 the same Folksongs in preparation for a fabulous Rural Village Schools Choir performance in Blandford Parish Church on 22nd March 2024.
We also welcome into this project the children of the Gurkha Junkiri class and we look forward to appreciating their own traditional songs and watching their unique and exciting Sword Dance.

The Choir will perform with Tim Laycock and Colin Thompson, all family, friends and visitors are warmly welcomed to celebrate this special event on 22nd March 2024 in Blandford Parish Church.

This project is funded by the D’Oyly Carte Foundation

Past Project Collaborations

Prior to taking up her post with the Dorset Rural Music School, our Director, Ellen Marsden (formerly Velázquez) developed many large-scale projects in collaboration with other organisations and schools.

Watch these short films to get an idea of what we have in store for the future with DRMS… 

Strike a Chord (Octagon Theatre 2016

A major project involving nine Yeovil schools, working with Conductor Charles Hazlewood, Actor Mike Shepherd, Composer Paul Patterson and the Philharmonia Orchestra, Strike a Chord introduced pupils to the power of the Symphony Orchestra through the orchestration of Roald Dahl’s iconic Little Red Riding Hood.

The Bluebell Day Out (Emerald Ant: 2020)

Ellen Has been the Musical Director of the fabulous Arts organisation, Emerald Ant, since 2019, when she first worked with Sarah Butterworth, the organisation’s Creative Director and Founder.
Following the lockdowns, their first socially distanced project was a Promenade performance through a beautiful bluebell wood.
The promenade visited a series of Tableaux, punctuated with contrasting music, from Pipes to Jazz Saxophone, Percussion, Hurdy Gurdy and the Bournemouth Symphonic Brass Quintet…in Concert Dress!

Magnificent Mills (Emerald Ant: 2021)

Working with Ensemble Bash, William Barnes, Yewstock, Allenbourne and Beaucroft schools, the project explored the history of Sturminster and Walford Mills.

Swanskin Sea Farers (Emerald Ant: 2022)

Emerald Ant’s Swanskin Project, with Sturminster High School, was an opportunity to create a film score for a screenplay created with shadow puppets by pupils with Sarah Butterworth.
Recorded and produced by Tom Hughes, working with members of the New Scorpion Band and our Patron, Tim Laycock, the film tells the story of the Swanskin fabric made at Sturminster Mill and the migration of workers from Sturminster to Newfoundland in the 1600’s.

The film was screened at the Mill one beautiful July evening in 2022.