Adapting music lessons in a remote world is a challenge for all music departments in lockdown. At a time when teachers, parents and pupils nationwide are facing the challenges of remote learning, the importance of music and its role in developing children’s performance in core subjects can easily be overlooked. At King’s St Alban’s, music is viewed as so much more than a bolt on extra and it continues to play a hugely important part in school life as one of our many co-curricular opportunities within the Arts.
So, what are we doing to keep music alive?
As a fundamentally practical subject, the challenges of learning music remotely are not to be underestimated! The music staff thoroughly enjoy exploring the opportunities for curriculum development offered by a remote teaching timetable and the pupils are embracing their lessons with enthusiasm. All pupils continue to enjoy a weekly class music lesson and their knowledge and understanding through project-based work. Each lesson includes a listening activity followed by a creative task and all the children are encouraged to compose their own music. Kitchen cupboards and toy boxes are regularly emptied in search of suitable ‘instruments’ and singing, vocal sounds and even body percussion sometimes make an appearance in the finished pieces too. Alongside the more conventional use of traditional instruments, our resourceful children are exploring a wealth of sound in the pursuit of creativity, with impressive results.
Live Music Lessons to Engage Young Minds
In Pre-Prep we are taking a slightly different approach to adapting our music lessons in the remote world of Lockdown 3.0. Instead of being taught remotely, each lesson is now taught live with the children joining via Zoom. This has allowed us to continue with lessons in a more ‘normal’ way, including lots of singing and percussion work alongside listening and movement and class discussions. Even the youngest children have adapted incredibly well to this style of learning, using the mute/unmute function appropriately and joining in with enthusiasm, whether learning from home or in their key worker bubbles. All attending soft toys are warmly welcomed and expected to work extremely hard!
Virtual Live Performances
We are keen to keep as much live music-making as possible. Our wonderful team of peripatetic music staff moved smoothly back to online instrumental lessons at the start of the year, and this allows our children to continue with their weekly lessons. Regular performance opportunities have always been a feature of life at King’s St Alban’s for pupils of all ages, and our twice termly remote Informal Concerts provide an important platform for the children to showcase the results of their hard work. In addition, we are continuing with our regular programme of live performances during Friday’s Celebration Assemblies, broadcast to everyone in the school community. These solo spots are highly sought after by our children, as well as providing an opportunity for musicians from the Senior School to join us remotely and inspire us with their skill and musicianship.
In spite of the challenges that life continues to throw at us, music is alive and well at King’s St Alban’s. We are incredibly proud of the children, who continue to show such resilience, flexibility and enthusiasm for learning in every area of their music-making. Yes, we are looking forward to getting back to normal, but until then we are having fun and making as much music as possible!