Dangerous Errand

Music theatre work for very young performers


15 minutes




Commissioned by Longman






Pat (boy or girl)
Father Shopkeeper
Mrs Stickleback (a witch)
Chorus of Dogs, Sparrows, and Cats
InstrumentsMelody Instruments: this part is designed for young children to play on their recorders, the melodies involve the first five notes usually learned by beginners. Other instruments are possible of course – violins, flutes, electronic keyboard etc. You may have older pupils or teachers who could play the part on any of these. At some points in the score, one solo player is indicated.
Tuned percussion: there are four separate parts which may be played by four solo players or four groups of players. The instruments may include xylophones, glockenspiels, metallophones and chime bars. Teachers are free to make their own decisions depending on resources.
Unpitched percussion: there are four parts, to be played by four individual players, tambourine, side drum, suspended cymbal and bass drum
Piano: the simple piano accompaniment doubles the instrumental parts, and may be by an older pupil or teacher. It will help hold the forces together, though if your children are sufficiently confident you could easily dispense with the piano, or use it at specific points only. The piano part may of course be played on an electric keyboard.
Guitar: guitar chords are indicated in the score. A teacher of very moderate ability may effectively join in, playing a simple chordal accompaniment.



Sent on an errand by Mum and Dad to buy some tea, Pat is warned to beware of the Bully-Boy, and Mrs Stickleback the Witch, and to be home before dark. On the way to the grocer’s shop, Pat shares crisps with the Dog, the Sparrow and the Cat. When Pat eventually encounters the dreadful Bully-Boy and the wicked Mrs Stickleback, in order to repay Pat’s kindness, all the local dogs, sparrows, and cats rescue Pat and lead the way home safely through the dark. Mum and Dad, both very worried, welcome Pat home, and Mum makes a cup of tea.

Composer Notes

Programme Notes

Dangerous Errand is a short music-theatre work (duration about 15 minutes) designed to be performed by six- to eight-year-olds. The piece is specially written to provide a valuable learning experience as well as an attractive and lively entertainment suitable for a school concert. There are nine solo roles (six singing and three speaking), a chorus (which can include as many or as few children as are available) and an orchestra of tuned percussion, unpitched percussion, and recorders.

The first performance of Dangerous Errand was given by two classes of six- and seven- year-olds, with a cast of 27, and an orchestra of 18.


First Performance

Papdale Primary School, Kirkwall, Orkney (at the St. Magnus Festival)

Monday, 25 June 1990

Pupils of the Papdale Primary School