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Mr Pickering’s Blog

I just took a moment to look back at my diary for last week – amidst the hustle and bustle of preparing lessons, attending meetings and thinking about strategic priorities, I took some time to indulge in a true love of mine – music making. The first rehearsal of the newly formed Croydon High School Big Band was an opportunity for myself, and the girls involved, to start on a journey to creating something truly memorable, as we endeavour to recreate the musical sounds of the 1930s and 40s. We are looking forward to sharing some of what we achieve at the Christmas Concert on November 29th. Nearly everyone enjoys music, whether listening to it, singing, or playing an instrument. But despite this almost universal interest, many schools across the country are having to do away with their music education programmes. This is mistake, not just for the schools concerned, but for the nation as a whole which is collectively impoverished as a result.
In educational terms, the role of music is absolutely vital to the overall academic progress and wellbeing of pupils. For one thing, through music pupils exercise the left side of the brain thereby developing areas which relate to language and reasoning. Pupils also learn, through regular practice, to improve their work and this desire to master the discipline is more often than not extended to other tasks across the school curriculum.
During a rehearsal there are many moments when a tangible sense of achievement can be felt as a piece comes together, bit by bit. The experience is challenging, but the end is an achievable goal. Pupils who master even the smallest goal in music will be able to feel proud of their achievement. This, in turn, leads to a willingness to take risks and work tirelessly to a successful outcome.
Making music can be relaxing and the neurochemistry activated by musical creativity can help pupils alleviate stress. In addition, pupils who engage in musical activities will foster a positive attitude toward learning and curiosity. Artistic education develops the whole brain and develops a pupil’s imagination.
However, of much greater importance is the fact that music connects us to our deepest and most profound emotions. It gives a voice to what we truly feel, regardless of whether we can find the words to express it or not. It touches us deeply and profoundly. Great music, like all great art, combines the power to affect us very deeply on an emotional level and develops greater aesthetic intelligence. Without such intelligence, we risk creating disposable culture, the equivalent of junk food – instantly forgettable without substance or the power to truly enrich us.
At Croydon High music, like drama, art and sport, is an iceberg subject; the relatively small numbers involved with the academic study of the subject exist in combination with large numbers involved in music outside of the classroom, whether that’s in instrumental, singing or theory lessons, or singing or playing in the school ensembles. Music, and, indeed, all the creative subjects, continue to play a critical role in the development of our pupils as well educated young women who are learning to appreciate the wonderful world of culture that awaits them for the rest of their lives.
I look forward to sharing this with you as we celebrate the musical achievements of our pupils at events such as the Christmas Concert, the Carol Service, the main school musical production (Hairspray), the Chamber Music Competition as well as Spring and Summer Concerts.
As Dumbledore once said:
“Ah, music,” he said, wiping his eyes. “A magic beyond all we do here!”
Mark Pickering
Assistant Head

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