For music provision, most schools tend to follow the classical model of providing specialist tuition on strings, woodwind, brass, piano, vocal, percussion and guitar coupled with ensembles and vocal and choral opportunities. What this classical model produces, is competent performers with a good overview of classical traditions and repertoire underpinned by the subtle acquisition of important life skills – listening, empathy, patience, persistence, teamwork and self-discipline.
But what about those children who do not have an interest or aptitude for classical music and who do not participate in individual instrumental lessons; are they missing out on vital life skills training and, if so, how can we include them? Fortunately, there is an additional way to teach and deliver music and the associated all-important life skill benefits, in tandem with the classical model.
With a project based approach to teaching and learning alongside rigorous teaching in English and maths, at Wandsworth Prep, we have found the ‘learning by playing’ approach to be the most effective in terms of engaging and involving our more reluctant musicians, effectively allowing every child the opportunity to learn to play a musical instrument and develop the attendant vital life skills. World music genres such as African Drumming, Brazilian Samba, Indonesian Gamelan and World Percussion fit seamlessly with the projects that children undertake and enable us to deliver a high speed, inclusive and engaging alternative to the classical approach.
Not every child with musical ambition is enthused by the thought of joining a traditional choir; their aspirations, however, are no less well-founded than those who do. Whether children have ambitions of playing in a band or a solo career, our music curriculum nurtures the less classical goals that children wish to achieve. The Voice in a Million event has become an integral part of the school’s calendar, where school children from all backgrounds throughout the UK come together, united in song to perform in front of their own family and friends at Wembley Arena. In March 2018, a group of children in Years 3 to 6 will audition to perform on the main stage at Wembley Arena with bespoke training from professional artists. What better preparation could there be for any budding stars in our midst?
Music making benefits people of all ages; it brings communities together, can be enjoyed and is accessible to all. Our aim at Wandsworth Prep, is to challenge, inspire and delight. Whether it be through success in instrumental music exams, participation in our termly recitals or perfecting a rendition of the latest Bruno Mars release for Wembley Arena, we witness untold benefits to all children, whatever their talent and level.
Bridget Saul - Headteacher