Music is Flourishing
Music is Flourishing
By Director of Music, Mr KNE Ellison
All pupils at Belhaven have two periods of Academic Music per week. This is in addition to the large number of music lessons taking place every week, given by our team of Visiting Music Tutors.
The emphasis is on preparing the children for their next school, and making GCSE Music accessible for every pupil, as well as inspiring them to be creative with music and having a lot of fun.
Within the two Academic Music lessons each week, pupils focus on Performance, Composition and Listening. These are the three components of the GCSE Music Examination.
Every pupil is taught Keyboard Skills and how to play basic Piano, or Electric Keyboard as part of our curriculum in one lesson per week, taught by the Director of Music. This is delivered in our new Keyboard Suite within the Music School. Pupils work through a Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum Level – Bronze being for the complete beginner, through to Platinum which is the GCSE booklet. A certificate is awarded at the end of every level. Upon completing Gold Level (usually 3 years from being a complete beginner) they are already at the standard for a basic GCSE pass. Platinum explores the higher-grade GCSE passes.
When studying Keyboard Skills pupils are in charge of their own learning, they can work at their own pace. Differentiation is vital in a subject such as music, especially for those who already had piano lessons.
Creating your own music is one of the most satisfying aspects of being a musician. At Belhaven pupils are taught a course in Composition and music notation, through Bronze, Silver, Gold, & Platinum Levels.
In at least one Academic Music lesson every week pupils are creating their own portfolio of compositions. They start with simple rhythms which they are capable of notating in Form 6, through to composing and notating their own tunes and melodies in Form 4, they eventually add guitar chords (again notated) to their melodies. As they progress through the ‘Levels’ they are taught more and more compositional skills. Every pupil is taught to compose in a variety of keys and styles, and after being taught Form and Structure, they produce complete compositions. By the Gold Level, and beyond, the pupils in the top two forms are able to compose a full piece of music capable of passing the GCSE Music Composition.
Although there is a serious element to the study of Academic Music through composition/ performance, and the preparation for examinations, one should not forget the sheer amount of fun the study of music brings. Pupils very much enjoy learning the academic side of music; not only how to read it, but also the enjoyment of being creative and actually writing their own music, culminating in producing a composition.
The feeling of mastery upon first hearing your own music, especially when it is a complete piece, should not be underestimated. There is always a smile and a sense of achievement when the pupils hear if for the first time. When having lessons in Art, pictures are drawn. In the study of Music, sounds are composed, with the whole emphasis on being creative and having fun. It is certainly not just pen and paper learning facts. A life skill has been learnt.
There are huge, almost incalculable, benefits to a child learning a musical instrument. It is a well-proven fact that the study of Music, and most especially the learning of an instrument, helps a child’s development in numerous ways: developing reading and listening skills, helping memory development and social skills, improving early Maths and fine motor skills and confidence building, not to mention teaching commitment. Self-discipline is fostered with regular, daily practice, and the ability to give a public performance helps to build self-confidence and that vital store of resilience that we all need.
In short, every child should … BeMusical.