St. Nicholas’ School is a school full of music! We believe that every child is entitled to a good music education which is why we have specialist music teachers to teach both class music lessons and singing assemblies. Every child has the opportunity to enjoy music through listening, singing and playing instruments. Singing assemblies are split into Key Stage one and Key Stage two and take place once a week. Class music lessons are taught by a specialist music teacher once a week.
Class Music Lessons
Class music lessons are generally taught by a specialist music teacher. These lessons include a listening activity, singing, sometimes improvising and composing using tuned and untuned percussion instruments, musical notation, and musical games that introduce and reinforce the children’s knowledge of the interrelated dimensions of music: beat/pulse, rhythm, pitch, dynamics, tempo, timbre, texture and structure. Children have the opportunity to listen to and discuss their opinions about a wide range of music, from a variety of genres such as classical, jazz, baroque, electronic, pop, blues, ragtime, rock, romantic, to name a few!
Each year group gets to perform to the school. Currently, foundation stage produce both something for Christmas and a short play in the summer term too; this year, Year one will be singing Christmas songs to parents; Year two put on a Christmas play – this year it is “Babushka”; Year three treat us to a play in January; Year four entertain us with their play at the end of the spring term; this year, Year five are putting on a selection of carols from around the world, interspersed with readings and Year six join forces with Year four to sing Carols around the Christmas tree and then at the end of the summer term Year six wow us with a final musical! In the past these have included, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, “Shakespeare Rocks”, “The Wizard of Oz”, any many others.
Year 2 Music Project
This is a project that is now in it’s third year in which all children in Year 2 are given the opportunity to have four free lessons on an instrument that they choose out of a given selection. These have included: violin, clarinet, recorder, keyboard, trumpet, flute, guitar, ukulele and even the french horn! The project was the brain-child of our visiting music teacher, Julia Drown, who also runs the school orchestra. It is a fantastic chance for the children to try out an instrument before committing to lessons in order to see if it is the right instrument for them. After the first two years, a number of children have then gone on to have formal music lessons, either with visiting peripatetic music teachers in school or with Julia herself. It has been a wonderful project, which has proved popular with the children. It has also been an excellent way to get members of the community involved as we are reliant on volunteers to come and teach their instrument to the children.
Year 4 Whole Class Instrumental Lessons
In Year four, both classes have whole class music lessons on a specific instrument. For the last two years this instrument has been the clarinet. A specialist clarinet teacher comes in every week to teach the whole class and then the whole year group perform to the rest of the school and to parents, usually at the end of the spring and summer terms. Again, a number of children end up continuing lessons with the county music service and joining the school orchestra.
Currently we have visiting peripatetic music teachers for Woodwind, keyboard and violin.
We have a large orchestra, not only for the children but it also includes both members of staff and members of the local community. Here is a short clip from one of their many performances to the school:
Other Musical Opportunities
There are many other musical opportunities at St. Nicholas’ School.Every year the children have a chance to showcase their talents in “Goat Factor”. This is a talent contest in which children pay a small amount to enter and a small amount to vote for their favourite acts and the money goes to a charity to buy goats for people in other countries. This is often a fantastic opportunity for children to demonstrate their musical skills, as well as dance and many other talents.
Another annual event is Oxfordshire’s Festival of Voices. This takes place in June in the magnificent Dorchester Abbey, in Dorchester-Upon-Thames, in Oxfordshire. Around 30 children in Year five come together with approximately 200 children from other schools in Oxfordshire to sing a collection of between 15-20 songs which they learn during the first half of the summer term. It is a fantastic occasion and one that children often remember taking part in for years afterwards.