Instruments of change: how schools encourage children to take music lessons

7th July 2000 at 01:00
Peter Gordon, headteacher of Hazelwood infant school, Enfield, north London, says: "We have a part-time music teacher who comes in once a week to work with the children. All teachers take music lessons with their pupils and some of them are musically-talented, playing, for example, the piano and cello. This year we appointed a newly-qualified teacher who is a music specialist.

"Every year the school does a concert which involves dance and the children playing musical instruments. We also make use of parents' musical talent inviting them to come in and strum the guitar or whatever with the

children."

Auriel Newbury, headteacher, Terling Church of England primary school, Chelmsford, says: "There are a lot of strong feelings in schools about the importance of music teaching and heads are concerned that it's getting denigrated, because of the pressure of money and curriculum. But our main problem is that the children go through primary school learning an instrument and, unless their parents get a music teacher after school to help them continue learning, it all stops when they get to secondary school."

Joan O'Pray, headteacher, Seringdale primary school, Wandsworth, south-west London, says: "We have a musician who comes in every Wednesday to teach music to all the classes. He is supported by another teacher and myself and we also teach the whole school singing. There are about 40 pupils who get private music tuition outside school which is a useful when you want to pump up the band.

"We tend to buy in musicians in the run-up to a production. The piano is in the dining room and, apart from the music room, there's no space for practise."

Colin Jones, head of Gwaunfarren primary school in Merthyr Tydfil, south Wales, says: "We have children playing the recorder - an instrument that is quiet, cheap to buy and our own teachers can teach. An itinerant teacher comes in once a week to teach the violin. An initiative in Wales means money is being given to councils to promote music.

"From September, we will have someone else in addition. We make do with our own resources to put on St David's Day celebrations and other Welsh cultural evenings for parents with a lot of music and Welsh dancing with the children singing, playing their recorders and violins."


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