Calverley CE Primary School now has an improved musical offering, thanks to a collaboration between parents and the school.
The Friends of Calverley CE Primary have provided financial support for Fiona Soothill, a parent with outstanding musical talent, who has helped increase the variety of instruments played, breathe new life into the choir and bring about a noticeable improvement in the quality of performances.
In addition to the support of parents, the school is benefiting from an enhanced package of music and singing teaching delivered by Artforms, which provides teachers to develop traditional and new instrument skills, help children to read music and improve singing.
One of the biggest success stories is the rejuvenated school orchestra. Since Fiona Soothill became involved two years ago, the orchestra, which previously only included children in years 5 and 6, has been opened up to pupils in years 3 and 4.
Now almost 50-strong, a wider range of instruments has been introduced. In addition to the traditional brass and wind instruments, the orchestra now includes piano, ukuleles and even a cajon (a box-shaped percussion instrument).
Assistant headteacher Jonathan Hallas said:
“Our school benefits from amazing support from parents. When the children asked for extra help with music and singing two years ago, we were happy to provide an enhanced music and performance package and were delighted when the Friends group agreed to support Fiona Soothill.
“Over the past two years, many more children have taken an interest in instrument-playing, music, singing and performance. As a result, the quality of performances has noticeably improved. There’s more of a sense of joy in music and singing in school now and this has helped boost confidence and concentration levels, both of which are good for learning.”
Last Christmas the orchestra played for the whole community Carol Service at St Wilfrid’s Church next to the school in front of a congregation of 250. People commented on the quality of the playing. The orchestra will do the same again at the Christmas Eve Family Service at 4pm.
In July, year 5 ukulele were part of a 500-strong mainly ukulele ensemble at The Big Play in Leeds Town Hall and will do the same next year.
Another major success has been the development of singing and the school choirs. Pupils in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 – some 180 children – now have weekly singing lessons with Nick Eastwood from Artform Music.
Fiona leads two choirs, each with 25 children, from Years 3 and 4 and Years 5 and 6. Last January almost 50 Year 6 pupils were part of a 5,000-strong ensemble at Young Voices in Manchester. They will be doing the same next January in Sheffield.
Teachers do National Curriculum music work in class and Artforms Music provides peripatetic music teachers for specialist lessons for all pupils in Years 4 and 5 who play recorders, ukleleles and want to read music. Other children in school are learning brass, strings and woodwind instruments with tutors from Artforms.