Learning music from Day One
The benefits of learning music from the start of primary school
I started teaching at the age of 25 after a four-year degree and two gap years, where I taught violin in New York and the second I travelled to South East Asia, just having fun. It was finally time to settle down and think about the future. My previous teaching experience lies in secondary schools, working for 10 years in two inner-city schools. Whilst challenging, these years cemented my teaching practice and my desire to help young people realise their full musical potential.
The transition from secondary to primary was simple. I was able to transfer my skills with ease as the girls at Headington are such a joy to teach.
Incorporating the experiences of learning musical instruments at the heart of our musical curriculum in Key Stage 1 has been a strong development during my time at Headington Prep. Every girl gets the opportunity to play piano, trumpet, violin and recorder before they turn seven years old! Learning a musical instrument allows the girls to have the patience to achieve their goals. We have numerous concert opportunities, these opportunities boost the girls’ self-esteem to be confident performers. The many ensembles on offer creates a social space for everyone to make new friends in different year groups and also brush up on the oh so important sight-reading skills.
Learning a musical instrument at a primary age enhances coordination and increases memory capacity and self-expression. You have to remember to practise, though! During my time at Headington, I have been able to develop my own skills further through writing a research project on how parents can help and enable their children to practise their instruments, a subject dear to my heart being a working mother of two daughters. The highlight was presenting this at Eton College. Parent involvement is of utmost importance when a child begins learning an instrument, consistent supervision and taking a keen interest in achieving the small goals are going to help your child see rapid progress.
Singing is at the forefront of our curriculum with weekly hymn practices and singing embedded within lessons. Research has shown that singing can be good for you on many levels. It can help with lowering stress, enhancing memory and improving your mental health and of course, it is a lot of fun. Girls as young as 6 are encouraged to sing in parts and experience singing in harmony.
It’s not just about the impact on learning – although I firmly believe that a grounding in music, including learning to read music through our Dogs and Birds programme, which we start in Reception, is hugely beneficial. Memorable experiences are also so important in childhood. The Music Department aims to take the girls to see a Ballet, Drama, Musical and Opera before they finish at Headington. Watching professionals in action will, I hope, ignite a lifelong love of the Arts.