Music in the Junior School
As with all subjects across all schools, 2020/21 has been a very different and challenging year. As an arts subject, music is ostensibly a social activity and distancing tends to have a negative effect on social interaction!
However, necessity is the mother of invention, and these challenging circumstances have resulted in some innovative solutions, some of which may well survive once school life returns to normal. With group singing across year groups not permitted, there have been no school choirs this year. Instead, we have created two ‘bubble orchestras’ allowing every instrumentalist to engage in music-making with her peers whatever standard she has reached.
During the Autumn Term we were able to hold two bubbled tea-time concerts. These were recorded during school hours and posted online. This allowed us to continue to offer the girls opportunities to perform, even though the audience was virtual. We also recorded a Christmas concert in the same way, with each bubble preparing a Christmas carol and recording it separately.
The Pre-Prep produced a wonderful Nativity play, written as always, by Carol Kew. Filming the production allowed for extensive use of the school buildings and grounds in ways that would not have been possible with a live audience. The girls took it all in their stride. (Pictured above).
Many girls have continued to have instrumental lessons and there have been a number of impressive results in external exams. Gemma S. achieved a distinction pass for Grade 5 music theory and there were several merit passes in various instruments. Chloe D. auditioned for the National Children's Concert Band and has been offered a place on this year’s residential course in the summer.
When we returned to school in March after lockdown, Year 6 spent the final two weeks of term frantically preparing an Easter Cantata. This was a telling of the Easter story with narration and song. Some of the girls formed an orchestra and learned seven songs. Many of the girls were novice ensemble players and the music, although adapted, was still very challenging. The singers had no experience of performing with a live orchestra, so this was a very ambitious undertaking.
The girls rose to the occasion, remaining enthusiastic and focused throughout rehearsals and putting in extra practice at home. The result was amazing.
Years 3 and 4 applied the same enthusiasm to their musical, Alice in Wonderland. Much of the preparation began during the lockdown, and the girls worked very well independently, accessing the words and practice tracks online so that once we returned to school much of the groundwork was completed.
The global events of the last year will have long-lasting repercussions; however, many positive changes have also happened and will change the way we learn and educate. Computer literacy will have improved this year and there will be people who have surprised themselves by their ingenuity and resilience.
On a personal note, as a temporary member of staff, I would like to thank the pupils and staff of St Mary’s Junior school for a truly memorable teaching experience. I feel privileged to have worked with everyone and I have felt very much at home. I will miss you all.
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