Aims and Ethos
The Study’s Music Department exists to establish a relationship between every girl and the art of music. Music is a powerful, unique form of communication; it brings together intellect and feeling, and enables personal expression, reflection and emotional development. Creativity is fundamental to successful learning, and as such, the teaching of music increases self-discipline, social intelligence, aesthetic sensitivity, confidence, spontaneity and fulfilment.
Kodaly: “Often a single experience will open the young soul to music for a whole lifetime. This experience cannot be left to chance; it is the duty of the school to provide it.”
The primary concern of the Music Department is to provide experiences, by means of an aural-vocal approach, which promote enjoyment of music whilst teaching knowledge, skills and understanding. We aim to develop musical literacy, using a spiral and sequential curriculum, within the framework of children’s musical songs, rhymes and games, guided by the principles of Kodaly. Our musical objectives include secure rhythmic skills, an accurate sense of pitch, critical listening abilities, and an emphasis on active music making, individual and communal.
All our girls enjoy specialist music lessons twice a week (Reception three times) from the Director of Music. The children have access to music-making at the appropriate level and the opportunity to sing and play a wide range of instruments. Tuned and untuned percussion, large and small, are used from Reception through to Year 6 and Year 2 learn the recorder in Summer Term. We also use ICT resources, for example, Groovy Music and Sibelius.
Children’s songs, rhymes and games provide an engaging and rich repertoire, as well as a lively and enjoyable atmosphere. Movement and partnership are interwoven into the activities. Reading, writing and composing are all integrated into the lessons, as well as ear-training and dictation exercises. Solfa and traditional notation complement one another, while units are also planned on instruments, theory and listening.
Both Houses have extremely well equipped, spacious Music rooms for class teaching, as well as smaller rooms for our many peripatetic music teachers. In our Hall at Spencer House we have a Boston grand piano which is used to accompany daily music assemblies, Associated Board music exams, and our informal and formal concerts and performances,
Our enviable resource of 15 peripatetic music teachers and range of clubs provides a sound basis for our students to grow, safe in the knowledge that their musical needs come as a priority. Nearly 200 individual lessons occur weekly on instruments ranging from oboe to singing, to double bass and harp. We are very proud of how well are girls do in the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) Examinations.
We have plenty of extra-curricular music clubs and groups, for all ages and abilities. Cello groups and violin groups meet weekly, as well as Orchestra and Jazz Club.
Chamber music stretches gifted pupils, while ensembles of brass, flute and guitar offer varied timbres at the annual Summer and Open Morning concerts. The choirs on offer, including a musical theatre club, are open to all and are very popular; only Chamber Choir has a selection criterion. Each choir not only performs each term at concerts and festivals, but aims also to perform to the community.
Beyond The Classroom
Professional musicians are engaged to visit both Houses each year, performing and sharing their expertise and artistry. These have ranged from a trumpet and piano duo to a drumming workshop and from a string quartet to a musical theatre troupe in full costume.
Recent special external events have included a residence at York Minster singing Evensong; participation in The Royal School of Church Music performances, at Eton College and Salisbury Cathedral, and charity concerts at The Royal Albert Hall; the Chamber Choir’s performance of Britten’s ‘Ceremony of Carols’ with harp at a local church; and trips to hear the London Symphony Orchestra at The Barbican. A ten piece orchestra accompanied the school musical, “Annie” in 2011, comprising professional musicians and Study girls.