Music is a key part of life at Long Close School. Our Director of Music leads all classroom lessons from KS1 to GCSE. All pupils in Years 1 and 2 have a group recorder lesson each week and perform in a variety of school events throughout the year. Drama is taught within the curriculum, and we have a variety of large scale performances. This includes an EYFS Nativity and separate KS1 Nativity at Christmas, a Year 3 and 4 Production in the Spring Term and a Year 5 and 6 Production in the Summer Term. Recent summer productions have included ‘The Wizard of Oz’, ‘Bugsy Malone’, ‘Oliver!’ and we are currently working on ‘Mary Poppins’ to be performed in the Summer Term 2019. Recent trips have included ‘Westminster Abbey and Wicked’ in the West End for KS4 pupils and Young Voices at the O2. We host regular music workshops, recent ones including African Drumming, Stomp and drama improvisation.
We have dance and drama extra curricular clubs run weekly by external specialist staff, and these have termly showcases to which parents are invited. The ballet students also work towards exams following the Cecchetti syllabus. The School Choir is our most popular club and runs after school weekly and leads our whole school Carol Service and Speech Day events at St Mary’s Church in Slough. We also take part in the ‘Young Voices’ Event at the O2, and attend ‘Wellington College Prep Choral Day’ annually. Our orchestra performs at all major school events. Music has recently been added to the GCSE options and is a popular choice with our pupils. We have over 100 instrumental lessons taking place per week and a dedicated team of peripatetic staff who support the musical development of our pupils. Pupils showcase their performance skills in lessons, assemblies and concerts throughout the year, and each term children are entered for ABRSM Music exams very successfully.
Virtual Guitar Lessons during Lockdown
We caught up with Joshua and Dr Chandler to find out how their virtual guitar lessons are going during lockdown.
The world has almost stopped because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Shops, restaurants, and cafés are closed, and streets are almost empty. However, guitar lessons and in general one-to-one peripatetic music lessons don’t have to stop! Thanks to wonderful technology, lessons can still happen like they used to do at school. I would say that I am very comfortable now with Microsoft Teams.
Lessons with Dr Chandler remain informative and in the musical world there is plenty to learn. For thirty minutes on a Friday afternoon, I get my weekly dose of guitar learning. I have gone through, in a few lessons, 4 pieces by the Cuban composer Leo Brouwer, in part of his guitar study called Études Simples. For the first time since Year 4, I have gone off the beaten track of learning for my guitar Grades but instead focused on non-related studies and books. Therefore, these lessons are less focused and more relaxed, but this also makes the lessons more interesting and challenging and allows me to develop my skills.
I really enjoy my lessons with Dr Chandler. He is a particularly good teacher and his teaching methods are easy to understand and all-in-all has taught me so much. I thank him for that, and I want to continue and progress through my guitar grades. He is very patient and helpful, and I look forward to every lesson.
I approached online instrumental teaching with a feeling of trepidation. Could it really be a substitute for face-to-face instruction? Three weeks into the Summer term and my worries have been assuaged. Microsoft Teams is an excellent medium through which to teach. The sound is clear and the picture is good. I can send over sheet music to students and we can look at it together on screen in real-time, meaning that we can talk about the interpretation of particular bars and even particular notes. I can model aspects of technique to my camera, too, and even zoom in on the intricacies of what I’m doing in a way not possible in a classroom. More important, though, it has been wonderful to communicate with my students again. Indeed, dialogues feel smooth and natural, even at a distance, on account of the brilliance of technological mediation. I am enjoying my work as a guitar teacher as much as ever!
Dr Oliver Chandler