It’s great to come to a school that has so much support for the performing arts, and for music in particular. I am part of a great team of three full-time specialist music teachers, a teaching assistant and a gap student, in addition to 11 instrumental tutors who between them teach keyboards, brass, woodwind, strings, vocals and percussion. It's no wonder, then, that there is a lot of music-making going on, and it is embedded in the life of the school. It’s certainly exciting to see the enthusiasm that the children have not only for performing, but for getting to grips with the challenges they encounter in the classroom while learning to play an instrument or experimenting with rhythm and melody.
Enhancing the Everyday
Part of my aim as I continue at Regents will be to make sure that every child experiences something musical every day at school. Currently, every child in Primary from Pre-Nursery to Year 6 has a music lesson once a week and, according to their age, that can mean anything from 40 minutes to an hour a week. From Year 1 onwards children meet for 40 minutes of choral singing in their year groups each week. There is a lot of curriculum time and extra-curricular time dedicated to music, which is a fantastic way of enhancing the learning experience and making every day an adventure in creativity.
Music is for all
There is no such thing as an un-musical person. I don’t believe that is the case, and I do believe that there is a level of understanding and appreciation that everyone can have, and that is part of our goal as a music team. We want to convey the message to children that music is a worthwhile thing to do with their time, as part of their daily life. I, myself have observed many people develop a level of confidence, to get up and speak for example, as a result of doing music. There have been children I have taught in the past who have been generally shy and retiring, but you put them up on stage and they seem to come alive. Then there are others who seem rather confident and yet find being on stage a challenge. The process of making music together brings out different strengths and weaknesses in individuals, and as much as it is an individual and unique experience, it is also about learning to work together in ensembles and collaborating in groups to overcome challenges.
Encouraging good habits
Our team here in Primary is excited and looking forward to a busy year. In addition to regular opportunities for the students to perform as soloists, there is a growing number of groups for the students to join. We’ve introduced a number of exciting programmes this term, with the Primary Orchestra being set-up for the first time. I’m delighted to say that nearly 30 children have volunteered to participate in the Orchestra, which rehearses on Thursday lunchtimes. We have only a short time each week to prepare ambitious music choices, and have received wonderful support and encouragement. We are all working really hard to encourage regular attendance and punctuality for this ensemble, instilling values that will stand the students in good stead as they go on to other stages of life. We have an enthusiastic and keen group of children, and it is a true delight to be joining the vibrant, ambitious and welcoming Regents family and making music together.
Harnessing the best resources
We also have the new Juilliard-Nord Anglia Performing Arts Programme, which is being introduced and is enhancing what is offered to the children. The Music Curriculum Evening which took place in October was part of a three-day visit from the South-East Asia Curriculum Specialist from Juilliard, Kathryn Andersen. During her visit, she met and talked with students, demonstrated her outstanding violin performance skills, worked with Music staff delivering lessons based on the new curriculum and helped set goals to further enhance the implementation throughout the year. As one of 10 schools chosen to initiate the programme, Regents is fortunate to receive three visits from Kathryn this academic year as well as some other surprises which are yet to come!
Article by Kristen Callaway – Head of Primary Music