By Rachel White-Hunt, Nord Anglia Education Curriculum Fellow and Director of Music at the British International School of Chicago, South Loop
Alumni and curriculum specialist visits are a powerful part of our collaboration with The Juilliard School. Over two years, our schools have seen an amazing range of performing arts specialists who are Juilliard alumni, artists and curriculum specialist, each bringing their own, creativity and experiences to our schools. The time they spend with our students is unique and very special. It’s the magic from these moments that inspires our students’ creativity and imagination.
Here we explore some of the different experiences our teachers have created for students through our Juilliard visits. It’s great to see how each school’s individuality comes out in these examples and highlights how the collaboration enhances our schools’ communities and learning environment.
At the British International School of Chicago, South Loop, students in Year 5 created an opera with internationally recognised mezzo-soprano from The Juilliard School, Rachel Calloway. Using the book Clockwork by Phillip Pullman as inspiration, the students created an opera teaser. Working with students using many of the activities and techniques from the Juilliard Creative Classroom, an online resource for teachers and students, Rachel helped to guide students through the composition process. Together they looked at the different emotions in the story, wrote lyrics, took simple melodic ideas, and developed them into a song. Using their voices and keyboard skills to help them express their ideas, they slowly created an opera. Rachel also guided musical theatre students on bringing their characters to life.
“I felt so proud and excited that [Rachel Calloway] liked [our opera] and was going to work with us. I never thought I could write an opera and work with a famous opera singer,” said Year 5 student Rocco Pitroen after presenting to Rachel their final opera.
Nord Anglia International School of Hong Kong invited Liam Day, Juilliard alumni and trumpeter, to create 5-minute pop-in sessions. Organised by teachers, these short performances enthralled students. Liam performed in a variety of settings at school including Spanish class and even made an appearance on the playground for a more casual atmosphere. In addition to the normal assembly and small group masterclass, Liam also ran a beginners’ session for curriculum brass players who ultimately delivered the master class to the rest of the students.
“It was wonderful, as it gave the children an informal opportunity to ask him questions, and the sound of the trumpet reverberating through the school was stunning,” said Naomi Rowen, Director of Music at Nord Anglia International School Hong Kong.
At the British International School of Houston, along with performing for the entire school, Juilliard alumni visits have also included IB and GCSE master classes as well as one-to-one lessons. The visits have enriched the school community across a range of disciplines. As a Curriculum Fellow hearing about all the wonderful work going on around our global community, I get the pleasure of hearing about students reactions to these visits and words like empowered, excited, curious, motivated pop up again and again in conversations with fellow teachers. These visits help support and develop engagement within the arts to build skills students can take into all elements of their learning and adult life.
These visits don’t just benefit our performing arts students it is also an opportunity for our school community to develop new and exciting ways to include more subjects, teachers and parents during these visits. The student’s reactions to these unique opportunities highlights the importance and impact of real artists performances.