Last Friday, students from Key Stage 3 presented their work from this term in a showcase highlighting several weeks of hard work and preparation. While selected students presented their work from Music Technology lessons, the primary focus, however, was drumming within a large ensemble. Year 7 focused on Japanese Taiko Drumming; Year 8 African Djembe Drumming; and Year 9 performed Brazilian Samba Drumming. There is always a slight element of risk in engaging the students in two hours of high octane drumming on a Friday afternoon, but the results were amazing!
So why do we do this? Firstly, the musical benefits of participating in an ensemble are innumerable. Students learn to develop skills such as awareness of blend and balance, intonation, and accuracy in performing to a steady beat. Beyond these benefits (which were clearly evident), participating in a musical ensemble can be fun! Studies have shown that our bodies release endorphins when we participate in synchronised movement activities such as group dance or music making. These endorphins are also found when going on roller-coaster rides, and even when eating chocolate and chillies!
Playing music together creates great social connections and is a key element in creating bonds, as it has been the case for many hundreds of years. It encourages cooperation and trust. It is also an ideal place for students to build self-confidence. They are able to share the fruits of their work with others and see how it contributes to the success of something even bigger. This awareness of personal progress promotes self-confidence. In an ensemble, more advanced students have the chance to be a coach and sometimes even the teacher; further building up that confidence.
While more advanced students have the opportunity to enjoy the role of a coach, less experienced students get to see where they can go with further study and practice. Even beyond this, playing in an ensemble can provide motivation for those activities in musical study. Teachers can tell students why these things are important, but there is nothing more motivating than experiencing the why.
Participating in an ensemble is a great place for musical, academic, and emotional growth. When a student participates in an ensemble, they are not only forming life skills, they are also forming positive working and social relationships.
The Music department at BISS Puxi is clearly committed to the Juilliard inspired Performing Arts Programme which is one of the school’s Five Pillars, but can you spot any links to the other four? Internationalism, Sport, Steam with MIT, Academic Excellence? I think you can!
Philip Laverick, Head of Secondary Music