One year on… A new school and (for me) a new country

Me playing trumpet

It’s been just over a year now since I wrote this post on starting a job in a new international school. I mentioned a pledge I made as part of a #mufuchat to create a culture where music is for all not just the few. One year on, here is how I’m creating that culture…

I started a ‘wider opportunities’ type strings programme- Every child in year 3-6 learns to play either the violin or the cello, they get a weekly 45 minute small group lesson and a 1
hour string ensemble rehearsal session a week. After a year the string orchestra is starting to sound good, I’m really looking forward to seeing what it sounds like when those first year 3s make it to year 6!

Mondays are music priority days for co-curricular activities so this is when our large directed activities take place- currently string ensembles and choir, now rebranded as Singers! With over 60 regular attendees! The rest of the week we have lots of smaller activities with opportunities for everyone to make music. The highlight of the year has to be our first house choral competition. Each house had to put a programme together of 3 items; a solo; a part song and a unison. The unison required every single student in their house to perform and I was so impressed by how they rose to the challenge!

My KS3 lessons suffered a bit from a lack of resources, I was only able to do singing, ukuleles and tuned percussion stuff, however in the end this just forced me to focus more on singing and composing using tuned percussion and in some ways it produced better results! Two of my classes performed in the end of term concert and that really made the concert feel a lot more inclusive, so this year I am aiming for all my classes to perform in a concert at some point and that really fits into the culture of music for all not just the few.

My GCSE and A Level classes are still really small; something I want to work on, but when extra-curricular is so big does it really matter that much? I would much rather focus on providing opportunities for all students outside of the classroom than worrying about uptake at KS4 and beyond.

Looking back it’s been a great year with no big regrets and I haven’t even mentioned all the amazing places I’ve been on holiday! I think I’m well on the way to meeting my pledge and with another music teacher to support me this year things can only get better!

Finally I’m also now responsible for professional development in the school so I’ve been busy sorting out things like CPD days and introducing Lesson Study, something which I’ll probably blog about in the near future.

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