Page 22 - Independent Schools Magazine
P. 22

Setting pupils on the right track to music
It is said that music can help improve everything from memory to breathing and promotes transferable skills. At King Edward’s School Witley, Surrey, all joiners in Years 7 to 9 get 15 free instrumental lessons, and the subject is mandatory to Key Stage 3. Director of Music Stasio Sliwka answers some questions about these initiatives...
Q: You provide all pupils joining the school in Years 7 and 9 with 15 free instrumental lessons to encourage them to try different instruments and  nd one which they enjoy. What percentage of pupils go on to take up paid instrumental lessons as a result? Have you found this initiative has resulted in increased take-up of music-making in latter years at school? Is it something you would advocate to other schools?
A: The scheme is coming up to
its seventh year which means a full generation of KESW pupils bene tting from the scheme. I believe that there is a 66% take up. After the 15 lessons we means test. Pupils who can afford to pay are asked to contribute the full amount or 75%, 50%, 25% and in some cases we fully fund pupils.
I totally agree with an increased take up later in school especially at GCSE and IB.
Q: The ensembles you nurture include those focused on many genres of music including
current pop. Some school music departments tend to be very ‘stuck’ in the classical mindset. Have you found that widening the scope brings more pupils into the music fold, or is it the same pupils working in a variety of styles?
A: Whilst the nature of the scheme focuses on providing lessons for solely orchestral instruments, this does allow for pupils having an in-road into more popular forms. For example some have gone
on to expand their interest into Music Technology and even sound engineering as a result of 1:1 lessons in an orchestral instrument. It has certainly enabled pupils to explore a much broader musical platform music at GCSE and IB.
It gets pupils into the department
and a positive buzz in the department (open from 7.30am- 9pm every weekday and access over weekend) and nurtures their music making. A lot of effort has been put into the surroundings to make it homely and a place where people want to come.
Q: Your Chapel Choir enjoys an excellent reputation and because of the School’s historic links with the City of London, the Choir
sings in London at least once a term for a City related occasion. Your Year 7 and 8 pupils all sing in a choir. Since you introduced this mandatory regime have you found increased interest in progressing to your high-pro le senior choirs?
A: It took a while to get singing in the Lower School going. We take pupils in from very diverse backgrounds and singing often levels the  eld and is something that everyone can do. We are planning to take singing into Year 9 from September 2017. It has become the norm as singing in Chapel is the norm – give the pupils a hymn they like and they raise the roof. This has fed into choir as well and the future looks very positive indeed. In choir
the younger ones learn from the older pupils and you have an atmosphere with pupils from the ages of 11-18 all getting along. We aim to have a weekend away in November not only to rehearse but for bonding. Last November we had a weekend in the Black Mountains with lots of activities including abseiling, caving and mountaineering. This was hugely bene cial to the choir.
Q: How important is music education?
A: Music is part of everyone’s daily life, it is something that we
are exposed to on a daily basis
and it has a tremendous effect on us, both consciously and sub- consciously. We know that 20%
of children learn an instrument
and 60% of adults wish they
had! The School has a strong commitment to music and as a result, places signi cant resource behind this aspect of school life. Learning an instrument helps to encourage independent learning because the emphasis is on the individual to practise. In addition to this, this type of learning helps
a child to improve their analytical, mathematical, organizational, literacy and teamwork skills. Finally, for many music is also a release, it helps the pupil to relax, it provides access to a new network of friends and can often provide a number
of socializing opportunities. As Confucius said ‘Music produces
a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without’.
Q: Do you have any reward schemes in place, if students spend time practising?
A: In short yes and these have
taken a few years to put in place.
We recommend each pupil practises
three times a week and this is
timetabled before and after school
and is always supervised. We also
have a points system based on the
feedback from our visiting teachers,
points may be awarded for effort
/ progress and performance in a
lesson. These points are regularly
updated on the school notice
board and at the end of each term, them
points are turned into vouchers that are redeemable in our school café. Ultimately though, the best motivation stems from pupils witnessing the progress that can be made by regular practice.
Essential skills
music can teach
• Increases memory
• Makes pupils make better use of time and improves organisational skills
• Boosts team skills
• Teaches perseverance
• Helps coordination
• Betters mathematical ability
• Improves reading and comprehension
• Increases responsibility
• Exposes pupils to culture
• Sharpens concentration
• Provides a route for pupils to express themselves and relieve stress
• Helps pupils make friends
• Improves listening skills
• Helps reduce stage fright
• Helps breathing
• Pupils learn better
• Pupils perform better in exams
• Pupils make friends throughout life – school, university, life beyond...
• Creates a sense of achievement
• Teaches pupils to be disciplined
• Promotes happiness in the pupil’s life and those around
22 Music, Dance & Drama

   20   21   22   23   24