A Middle School Music reflection

As we approach the end of a very memorable year, it’s appropriate to spend some time in reflection.

First, the losses. In the Performing Arts our principal aim is to provide students with meaningful aesthetic experiences of the highest possible quality. Some of this is done at a personal level, with individual or small group instrumental lessons. However our core business is to provide opportunities for deep involvement through bands, orchestras, choirs, musicals, plays and other ensembles. Most of these have not happened this year. Thus, we cannot deny we have lost the opportunity to provide many significant arts experiences for our students.

However, there have also been many, many gains.

Our instrumental staff did an amazing job skilling up for online lessons, and many thousands of successful online lessons were completed. I’m not sure who would have won the prize but I do know Jason Digby, Head of Woodwind, notched up over 500 music lessons on Microsoft Teams. Many of our students made above average progress with their instrumental skills.

Many of our ensembles used technology to produce virtual concert items. As I write, we are completing preparations for the Christmas service and celebration days which includes virtual duets, quartets, a chamber choir piece and some drama.

All of our recitals proceeded as planned, with vocal and instrumental recitals being streamed out to parents. This often involved accompanists recording accompaniment parts for students, who then had to add their solo contribution at home. An advantage over the live concerts is that they are then available to family members all over the world.

As mentioned above, we are currently finalising our Celebration Day events, which will be edited and streamed to parents next week. We hope that families will enjoy the mix of music, drama, speeches, awards and reflections on the year.

Of course, we are all optimistic that we will be able to operate in something much closer to normal conditions next year, offering our usual rich range of opportunities for involvement in powerful performing arts experiences. We are planning to stage Strictly Ballroom in late June, with rehearsals starting in the second week of the Easter holidays. We are also planning to stage a Middle School Play in late October and to offer a Music Tour at the end of Term 4. Keep your fingers crossed!

Best wishes to you all for a safe, happy, relaxing and musical Christmas.

Martin Arnold
Head of Music

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