A unique aspect of the Juilliard-Nord Anglia performing arts collaboration is that every child receives keyboard skills as a part of the curriculum from the age of five. Whilst scientific research lends support to our reasons for focusing on the arts in our schools, it is the real-life impact I would like to share with you here.
Initially, the idea of teaching a class of 24 five-year-old students to play the keyboard gave me sleepless nights. The first lesson was an eye-opener as many children in the class could not move their fingers independently of each other, and attempting to play C,D,E,F and G notes using five fingers was an impossibility! By Christmas, the magic had happened and most of these wonderful young people had achieved this goal. Two years in, I am now utterly convinced of the benefits for a wide-variety of reasons. Development of fine motor skills is an unintended consequence of the programme, and one that has far-reaching implications on other areas of the curriculum. These consequences are already being recognised by other teachers in the school where I teach.