FORTY young violinists from a Kirklees school travelled to London today to take part in a national celebration of a new approach to instrumental and vocal teaching.
The Year 3 and Year 5 pupils from Overthorpe Junior, Infant and Nursery School went to the Excel Exhibition Centre in the London Docklands to celebrate a new approach known as Wider Opportunities in Music which teaches whole classes of children to play instruments at the same time. Staff at Kirklees Music School were amongst the first to pioneer this in a pilot with three schools in 2002.
ThomMeredith, principal of Kirklees Music School, said: “Five years on and the results are extremely encouraging.
“The number of schools participating in Wider Opportunities schemes in Kirklees has been steadily growing and thanks to new government funding this year, well over 100 schools with pupils in Year 4 have now accessed the programme with more waiting to take part.”
The Year 3 pupils at Overthorpe have only been learning the violin since September but, working with Kirklees Music School teacher Stuart Hazelton and class teacher Tracey Fox, have achieved excellent results.
The Year 5 pupils who have chosen to continue with their tuition, have been part of the scheme for longer and will attend as mentors and helpers for the younger players.
Overthorpe’s head teacher, Thelma Walker, said: “This is a wonderful opportunity for our children to share their skills and enjoyment of music. It is particularly pleasing to see staff from our school and Kirklees Music School working together to enrich our curriculum and deliver the Excellence and Enjoyment agenda for our children.”
As a special treat for working so successfully, the children were being taken on a brief coach tour around London to see some of the sights before setting off on their journey home.
“It is exciting that this initiative is regenerating interest in learning a huge variety of musical instruments so widely across Kirklees and also excellent news that the hard work going on in Kirklees Schools is being noticed nationally,” said Thom Meredith.
“Kirklees Music School staff and class teachers in lots of schools have been working successfully in partnership on this scheme for years now and we are delighted to be able to demonstrate to music teachers, heads of music services, exam boards, school inspectors and others just how well we teach in Kirklees.
“Not only does the scheme allow every child in the class to have the opportunity to learn an instrument for a year and develop their musicianship, it also teaches skills such as teamwork, listening, social interaction and concentration which all assist in the drive to raise standards and aid enjoyment.
“Research has been carried out which demonstrates the emotional and academic benefits of playing instruments and singing on young people’s development and it is also an interest which we hope our youngsters will continue throughout their adult life.”