Nottingham Chamber Music Festival

VQ Create 2022


MUSIC PROJECT for 14-18 year-olds

Looking for a creative music project for your students?

VQCreate is for your students aged 14-18 to write their own piece of music for string quartet. All styles and genres of music are encouraged! Working with the internationally-acclaimed Villiers Quartet, students will have the chance to write a short piece between 1 – 2 minutes long. At the end of the project, these works will be performed in concert by the Villiers Quartet, and students will receive a recording of their music.

In collaboration with University of Nottingham composition professor Dr. Elizabeth Kelly, the Villiers Quartet have also developed a new online toolkit, the VQCreate App, using videos, animated scores and musical trivia to teach elements of string quartet. Students will also receive additional compositional support throughout the project, to help them gain the confidence to express their creative ideas in music.

With support from the Nottingham Chamber Music Festival, this project is free for schools and students to participate. For more information, and to register your interest, please contact Carmen Flores at The closing date for signups is 1st March 2022. Spaces are limited and will be given on a first-come basis.


How it works

VQCreate is an engaging project to help your students explore the world of string quartet, and work with this ensemble to make new music. VQCreate is offered as a series of 3 online sessions (one hour each), and a final concert performance with the Villiers Quartet in July at the Nottingham Chamber Music Festival. Below is a timeline of the sessions. We recommend the sessions take place after school, so as not to disrupt with school lessons.

There is also the potential to have Session #3 be an in-person workshop with the Villiers Quartet at your school, depending on your school’s preference. Please note* Students will need supervision from the music teacher throughout the project. Additional composition support for students and teachers can be provided by VQCreate.



Session #1 – Introduction Session #2 – First Sketches Session #3 – First Drafts Session #4 – Performance
March 2022 April 2022 June 2022 July 2022


Here are samples of music written by VQCreate students:

Mbe Mbe, by Kezia Pollendine, St. Marylebone School, Year 12

Storm Kelpies, by Samantha Coleman, Becket School, Year 10

About the Villiers Quartet

The four members of the Villiers Quartet bring together a wealth of teaching experience, offering a valuable resource for students and teachers to enhance the current music curriculum. The VQ has a vast range of performance and teaching experience, working with organisations such as the National Children’s Orchestra, Junior Grittleton, Oxford University, and many schools and universities in the UK and abroad. Apart from performing together, individually they have performed in all the major venues and festivals of the UK, including the Proms (Aurora Proms from memory), the Royal Festival Hall, Royal Opera House, Bridgewater Hall, the Barbican, Wigmore Hall, Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, Cadogan Hall, St. George’s Bristol, and featured on BBC Radio 3 and on television for BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show. As Quartet-in-Residence at the Jacqueline du Pre Music Building, Oxford University, the Villiers have given quartet coachings, composition workshops, and performances for the Oxford community. In lockdown during the pandemic, they created new online resources such as their VQCreate App.


About Elizabeth Kelly

Elizabeth Kelly is an American/British composer based in Nottingham, UK, where she is Associate Professor in Music Composition at the University of Nottingham. Her music embraces broad influences, running the gamut from ‘majestic Wagnerian lines aggressively punctuated’ (Boston Musical Intelligencer) to ‘rasping jazzy exploration’ (The Guardian). Her compositions have been performed throughout the United States and Europe at venues including Carnegie Hall in New York, the Tanglewood Music Festival in Massachusetts, the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival in the UK, and the Gaudeamus Festival in the Netherlands, and her work has been supported by grants and awards from Opera America, the UK Performing Rights Society (PRS), the British Academy. the Leverhulme and Gemma Trusts, and the American Society for Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP).

Dr Kelly is one of the co-founders and directors of Nottingham Forum For Artistic Research (NottFAR). Since 2018, she has overseen a number of initiatives to nurture and empower children’s creative voices through music composition education, and she has worked with primary and secondary-school children in the UK and US both in-person and online in partnership with the Nottingham Music Service, the Villiers Quartet, and the Coastal Symphony of Georgia.

About the Nottingham Chamber Music Festival

The Nottingham Chamber Music Festival (NCMF) is a summer festival held in Nottingham to celebrate chamber music in the city. The NCMF celebrates a community approach to chamber music and highlights the strong cultural heritage of Nottingham, presenting concerts in historical and non-traditional performance spaces across the city. Performance venues have included the Royal Concert Hall, Delilah Fine Foods, Nottingham High School, and St. Peter’s Church, Nottingham Contemporary, and St Mary’s in the Lace Market. Featuring artists and ensembles of both local and international acclaim, the NCMF serves to ignite these spaces and reinforce the power of bringing community together through music.


This project is free for schools and students to participate. For more information, and to register your interest, please contact Carmen Flores at  The final date to sign up is by 1st March 2022. Spaces will be given on a first-come basis.


Details about the Project Timeline:



March 2022: Online Session #1: Introduction to Quartet Writing: String Techniques and Composition Ideas

The Villiers Quartet introduce themselves and the genre of string quartet to the students. We discuss why writing for a string quartet can be so special, and help students start thinking about their musical ideas.  After this session, the assignment is for students to begin writing their first sketches.

After this session, participants will have access to the online toolkit of VQCreate, which contains video and listening excerpts from the Villiers Quartet. This toolkit will help illustrate some of the finer details of string quartet writing to your students.


April 2022: First Ideas/Sketches due to the Villiers Quartet

The first rough sketches the students have come up with are due to the Villiers Quartet. These do not need to be fully-realised pieces; rather, they are short musical ideas (between 8 – 16 bars minimum) that the students would like to explore.


Late April 2022: Online Session #2: Your Ideas Session

For this session, students will have written their first sketch or melody for quartet. The Villiers Quartet discuss in small groups the ideas that each student has submitted and address any specific questions from students. Following this session, the assignment is for students to work with their music teacher, to write their first drafts of the quartet, for the Villiers to workshop in Session #3.


End of May 2022: First drafts of quartet due to the Villiers Quartet

The first drafts of the music are due. We encourage the students to write between 1 – 2 minutes of music, although the work can be longer.


June 2022: Session #3: Workshop with the VQ & Dr. Elizabeth Kelly

In this session, the Villiers Quartet play through the first drafts for each student for the students to hear their work played by musicians.  This session is a “live laboratory” for the students to discuss with the VQ how they want their music to sound. Following this session, the assignment is for the student to make any changes, before handing in their final submission.


1st July 2022: Final drafts due to the Villiers Quartet

Following the workshop with the VQ, the students can make final changes to their drafts, which are due to the VQ at the beginning of July.


mid-July 2022: Session #4: Live Concert of student works at Nottingham Chamber Music Festival

The Villiers Quartet will perform each of the student compositions in July 2022, at the Nottingham Chamber Music Festival, for all students and their guests to hear the final pieces they have created. The concert will also be recorded, and each student will be sent their Villiers recorded work as part of their participation in VQ Create.


VQ Create is open to students aged 14-18, to help students write their own piece of music for a string quartet. All styles and genres of music are encouraged! For more information, and to register your interest, please contact Carmen Flores at The closing date for sign ups is 1st March 2022. Spaces are limited and will be given on a first-come basis.