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A week at Juilliard to inspire students for a lifetime

Nord Anglia Education's performing arts teachers around the world ventured to The Juilliard School in New York this summer to enrich their knowledge of history, technique, and ways to inspire students. Laura Rea, Head of Performing Arts at the British International School, Hanoi, shares why the week at Juilliard is so important for teachers as it is for students.

  • BSG's Juilliard collaboration

By Laura Rea, Juilliard Regional Lead for Southeast Aisa; Head of Performing Arts at the British International School, Hanoi

On August 8th at 8:30 in the morning, 38 Nord Anglia teachers from around the world entered the doors of The Juilliard School in New York City with huge smiles, enthusiasm and eagerness to learn. We all knew we were in for a unique and special week; it became so much more. 

From the moment the course started, we were fully immersed into the world of the performing arts. The Nord Anglia family strives to provide the best international schools in the world. The high value that is placed on the performing arts is seen as a large reason of success for students in our schools. Forming a collaboration with The Juilliard School, who many recognise as the best performing arts school in the world, shows Nord Anglia’s dedication to not only provide the best for students, but also for their teachers. This professional development week is indisputably the highest quality of advancement for performing arts teachers in the world.

With such an innovative and creative new curriculum, many teachers old and new, were ready to jump into the world of learning. Through a series of specially designed and crafted workshops, we explored ourselves as composers and performers, musicologists and appraisers, but most importantly we became students once again. The Juilliard team are incredibly aspirational and have really created a visionary and organic way to get the best out of our students. Encouraging teachers to change the way we think will allow our students to change the way they think. It is incredibly important that we encourage this. We need students to be problem solvers, risk takers, creative thinkers, and independent learners to best prepare them for the future. All of these qualities are at the core of the curriculum.

For some teachers it was their first introduction to the new curriculum. With the focus being on student motivation and engagement, the amazement in the new approach added to the constant air of excitement. The varied workshops led by a mixture of Juilliard specialists, Nord Anglia Curriculum Fellows and Regional Leads gave everyone an opportunity to experience and question the new model. Some of the workshops ranged from jazz to classical, rhythm to melodies, and composition to performance. Every workshop was focused on the approach to teaching. ‘Engage before inform’ was a consistent thread in altering our teaching practice to see students excel. Often, teachers introduce a lesson with ‘Good morning! Today we will learn about…’ You will no longer find this in the music classrooms of Nord Anglia schools. We don’t want to tell students what they will learn, we want them to discover it. We want students to be intrigued, excited and hungry to learn.

Amongst the fantastic workshops, we were also extremely fortunate to learn from the keynote speaker Eric Booth - one of the most important people in American arts education. We focused greatly on how to encourage our students to be intrinsic learners. It was a unanimous feeling that motivation would lead to greater progress and higher achievement through student engagement and motivation. 

I am confident to say that every single teacher who took part in the week long training session at Juilliard has been incredibly inspired and feeling rejuvenated. Not only do we now have a united global network of music teachers, but we have also each made some very good friends through the process. Each of us feel very lucky to be part of something so amazing, a programme that is changing the face of education, an opportunity for all of us to learn from and work with the best performing arts school in the world. Everyone is incredibly excited to return to school to implement this curriculum as best as possible to push and drive our students.

Many music departments are quite small, with maybe 2 or 3 teachers. For Nord Anglia Education teachers, we feel that we are one huge department, connected across the world, with one vision - to provide the best performing arts programme in the world.