Interview with Head of Music, Miss Sarah Denton
What was your first teaching experience?
When I finished my music degree I traveled to Moshi in Tanzania to teach at the International School there. I also worked as a volunteer in local schools and in an orphanage. I realised then that I could make a difference in children’s lives through music.
Music is my passion and my life and I am currently doing a Master’s Degree in conducting. Through my work at the school, I hope to inspire our pupils to embrace music of every genre.
One way to do this is to introduce children to a wide repertoire of music that includes the ‘classical greats’, ‘world music’ and more modern pieces. By hearing music played to the very highest standards, they learn to love it. To achieve this, we provide numerous opportunities for them to hear our peripatetic music teachers play.
We have 10 individual music teachers and each of them is a professional musician. Hearing them play live inspires our children to practise more than any words can. It clearly helps, as all of our Year 5 and 6 pupils play one, two or even three instruments.
What musical instruments can children play at the school?
The Nursery and Reception children can play the following: violin, piano, ukulele, cello and guitar. If their hand span is big enough they can also play the Recorder.
From Year 1 they play all of the above but can also play the classical guitar and drums.
Years 2 – 6 can also take up the clarinet, flute, saxophone, French horn, trombone and the trumpet. Classical Voice training is introduced in Year 4 onwards.
What opportunities do the children have to sing together?
We all sing together in assemblies on Mondays and Fridays where we learn traditional hymns and sing modern choral music. Infant Choir is for children in years 1 and 2 and Junior Choir is for year 3 – 6. The Chamber Choir is for children who have been selected to sing from years 3 – 6. These pupils are able to sing in two and three-part harmony. The Chamber Choir sing carols at Christmas in local venues and will be singing at a home for elderly residents in the spring.
Do you have any instrumental ensembles?
We have the Lyceum Big Band and Orchestra for our more advanced musicians in Years 3 – 6. There are currently 12 children in the band and instruments played include the flute, French horn, trumpet, cello, clarinet, violin, tuned-percussion (marimba and glockenspiel), drums, electric guitar and trombone. The Lyceum Orchestra has 36 children in it and two members of staff.
Why do you think music is so successful at school?
All children have a weekly singing lesson and a weekly music lesson where they learn about composing and are introduced to the full range of instruments. There are class recorder lessons for all pupils from year 2 onwards. The fact that children have individual music lessons from the age of 3 prepares them well.
What is your vision for music at the Lyceum School?
My vision is to plant the seeds of music in their hearts that will spread and grow as they move into their senior school and on into adulthood. I want to encourage pupils to take on two instruments from a young age and for parents to come on the musical journey with us.