Music at Nottingham Girls’ High School is hugely popular and successful, and with the recent opening of £9M performing arts centre ‘the space’ there is now an amazing theatre in which to rehearse and perform it. With dedicated music staff and expert peripatetic teachers, music lessons are quickly taken up and a love of the subject starts at the very beginning – the Junior School.
Every girl at the Junior School is encouraged to take up an instrument, or if not musically inclined, to get involved in the technical side of musical productions such as learning about the lighting and sound; there really is something for everybody. This has proved so successful that 85% of girls in Years 2 – 6 now play an instrument. Everyone studies something, and at least 50% study two things. The younger girls in Years 1 – 2 are part of a special in-house music scheme called ‘Da Capo’ (Italian for ‘from the start’) in which they rotate between piano, percussion, brass and woodwind over the two years, culminating in a Da Capo graduation ceremony which showcases the amazing progress made.
On Friday 9 June the Junior School musicians took part in ‘Ten Pieces’, an initiative of BBC Teach which aims to open up classical music to a new, young audience as part of the wider BBC Music Day project. Children from three local schools joined the girls from Nottingham Girls’ High School Juniors to rehearse and perform two pieces of music chosen from the ten pieces of classical music specially arranged by the BBC for this age group and this event.
As part of the school’s ongoing outreach work too, the day highlighted true community spirit as children worked and practiced together playing a range of instruments in the two chosen pieces of music – Stravinsky’s ‘Firebird’ and Bernstein’s ‘Mambo’ from West Side Story. After a long day of rehearsals, the combined orchestra performed the finished pieces, excerpts of which were streamed live via the school’s twitter feed and also uploaded to the BBC Ten Pieces website which you can view here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p055qgj8.
A passion for music at Nottingham Girls’ High School is identified and built upon from the earliest stages. During an average week at the Junior School there are around 240 music lessons. Three different orchestras are run each week, two choirs, two rock bands, a flute choir and a steel pans club, with plans to introduce a clarinet/flute choir and percussion club next year, and even a European music tour for Years 5 – 6.
The talented young musicians at the school regularly take part in competitions and perform at informal and formal events. They have also raised huge amounts of money for charity through busking events around local shopping centres and city streets. With the girls becoming interested at such an early age, the levels of skill and talent are sure to continue and be reflected throughout the whole school and its thriving music community.