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Smithdon High School

The band plays on at our school

The coronavirus pandemic may have impacted many aspects of school life this year, but it has certainly not silenced the young musicians of schools within our trust, where participation numbers just keep on growing. 

Our 11 primary and secondary schools actively encourage collaborations between them, and it is in the field of music that it has enjoyed some of its biggest success with 62 pupils across the schools now playing orchestral instruments. 

“I never dreamed the numbers would be so high,” said Rob Galliard, the Trust’s Director of Primary Music. “I expected that of the original cohort, around 20, would still be playing, as I thought there would be a big drop-off during school closures, so it’s wonderful to see so much sustained interest.” 

All primary school children are given a chance to explore instruments and teachers identify those with most potential and encourage them further.  

“Children automatically gravitate towards things like flutes, trumpets and saxophones but we’ve managed to get some of them to take up less played, but equally valuable instruments like bassoons, tubas and oboes,” Mr Galliard added. 

The arts are a fundamental part of our educational philosophy, and long-term, the vision is that we have high quality extra-curricular music taught in every one of our schools. Children who are involved in extracurricular activities are happier, and the skill and discipline of learning an instrument helps them academically.

Mr Galliard spent many years as head of music at Springwood High School and said it had played a big role in the reputation the school had earned.  

“Public performances of our concert band led to the parents of musical children in the area seeking out our school, and helped us get Specialist Arts status in 2000,” he said. “I think it’s also partly responsible for the school being so heavily oversubscribed these days.” 

At a time when so many social bonds are broken, music is something that can bring people together, even if it means from a distance. And when more normal times do return, music is something that can help strengthen bonds across our schools. 

Our parents choose our schools for the excellent education they provide, the high standards of behaviour and importantly the extra-curricular opportunities they offer. Music is one of our greatest strengths, and one we’re proud of and intend to keep developing further.

Photograph taken prior to the COVID-19 Pandemic