Let’s start at the very beginning – Music at NGHS

6th July 2018

Mark Rolfe, Head of Extra-curricular Music, has shown an extraordinary commitment to encouraging a love of music among our girls. His energy, enthusiasm and passion are really infectious – and the results speak for themselves. Read about the continuing developments and thrilling opportunities on offer; exciting times ahead!

Da Capo

Da Capo is an Italian music term meaning ‘from the start’ and so is the perfect way to introduce this blog about our very special music provision at NGHS, which starts at the very beginning – the Junior School. The moment a girl joins us in our Reception classes, she can partake in Recorder Club and begin her NGHS musical journey which continues throughout her entire time at the school. In 2014 we introduced Da Capo, a structured course which offers girls in Years 1 and 2 a wide range of musical enrichment opportunities, and offers them the expertise of our team of in-house specialist tutors. We are incredibly lucky and privileged to have these expert music practitioners on board, each of them with a continued invested interest in evolutions and developments in music education.

Da Capo has been a brilliant initiative and has proved to help nurture girls’ identity, social development, social skills and confidence. It culminates each year in a lovely graduation concert and award ceremony at which the girls proudly perform for their parents who get to see and hear just how far they’ve come.

We teach it

Then it’s onwards and upwards in Years 3 to 6 where we offer one to one tuition in a huge and diverse range of instruments from Bass Guitar, Viola and Cello, to Music Technology and Harp; if it exists, we teach it!  Extracurricular clubs have surged from just five to 14 a week ranging from Chamber Orchestra and Steel Pans to Rock Band and Swing Band. Girls in these clubs go on to perform in a huge array of Junior concerts, functions and events of which there has been the grand total of 19 this year – amazing!

We want every girl to participate in, and enjoy music, whatever her ability. But we’re also keen to encourage and reward excellence, investing in those girls who themselves invest so much of their time and energy. For the past four years, girls in Year 6 who have shown outstanding commitment to music in school have been rewarded by becoming Music Ambassadors. This has given them an opportunity to perform in Senior concerts, at out of school functions, and to act as role models to younger Junior pupils. But we feel that girls in our current Year 5 have probably been the first to really benefit from our latest, outstanding music provision at the Junior School, and we are increasingly seeing just how incredibly successful the venture has been. The variety, the standard and the overall breadth of musical talent is truly exceptional. Club uptake has surged, and between them the Year 5 girls have an astonishing 80 music lessons per week!

Excellence

So to mark this resounding success, we are delighted to announce the introduction of new Music Scholarships. In recognition of all the effort and commitment which has so successfully raised the profile of music at NGHS, and resulted in such an array of talent, the awards will be reserved for girls joining Year 7 from our Junior School. For those who are successful, free music tuition (in school – and for the main instrument only in cases where girls play more than one instrument) will be awarded for three years (Years 7, 8 and 9), after which award holders will, if they wish to apply, be shortlisted for the Senior Music Scholarship auditions too. Up to three Music Scholarships each year will be awarded from September 2019, and girls in the current Year 5 will be the first group able to apply. We’re very excited about this, and further details will be available next term, with auditions due to take place in November 2018.

Our ongoing commitment to music means that we continually re-assess, develop and create opportunities on a year by year basis for our musicians who require advanced opportunities and challenges to perform and progress, as Mark Rolfe comments: “We’ve had two Year 5 girls this year who have played in five music ensembles a week, and I strongly believe they deserve the opportunity to do so.”

Diversity

Inclusion and diversity are important to us, and we keep a termly audit of what instruments girls are playing in and out of school to ensure that we are being fully inclusive in offering concert and club opportunities for those who study both at NGHS and out of school. One of the successful elements of being a 21st century, forward-thinking music department is having investment in tools and staff to write idiomatic arrangements for students so that everyone can be challenged. For example, a guitarist can play in a band after a term of tuition, and tailor-made parts ensure she can contribute to school music life; similarly a top end trumpet prodigy can be challenged in the same group by writing parts that will both stretch and challenge her. We pride ourselves on providing opportunities for our young musicians to study, perform and enjoy a wide variety of music, such that an NGHS Junior concert could consist of one of Mrs Key’s outstanding choirs performing a beautiful classical work followed by a swing band arrangement of The White Stripes. We also value ethnic diversity in music at the Junior School and our vocal concerts often include works from Hindustani classical musicians alongside those singing jazz and western classical music.

Even our Reception recorder group were recently performing Havana and Ariana Grande at their recent concert – that’s true musical diversity.

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