Music + Arts

Despite the challenges, music and performances blossomed

And just like that, the year was over! What a year, and indeed, what a term! Sadly, the show-biz term “break a leg” (used traditionally to wish performers luck just before a performance) I decided to take literally… Unfortunately, it has meant that I have not been in school for much of this term, but I have kept my eye on what has been happening from a safe distance and it has proved to be a very exciting and productive term musically for many Copthillians. Firstly, I must mention the Year 6 production of Oliver. We had just got underway with rehearsals before my accident and I could already see that we were going to have a stellar show on our hands. I could not have envisaged how brilliantly the children would develop their characters over the course of the following weeks and was super impressed and proud when I came to see them at their matinee performance. Just fabulous! Mrs Bidwell has also kept her students busy, with some of them enjoying using their composition skills by entering a competition called ‘Compose Yourself’. This is an EPTA (European Piano Teachers Association) initiative and encourages young pianists to explore their talents in music composition. I understand that this was a great hit with some of the children and we will look at encouraging even more people to enter next year. The Year 3 instrumental group lessons (free taster term) finally went ahead this term, having been thwarted by COVID on the previous two attempts and the children enjoyed the opportunity of learning one of a number of selected instruments. To help with this, we are happy to welcome Sue McDonald to our team. Mrs McDonald is a highly experienced woodwind teacher who has taught many past Copthillians outside of school and we are delighted that she is now able to join us in the school setting. Mrs McDonald will be taking on Mr Jonathan Aughton's woodwind teaching from September, as he will very sadly be retiring. Mr Aughton has been at Copthill for many, many years and will be sadly missed by all. I will especially miss sharing the Orchestra rehearsals with Mr Aughton, where we would alternate the role of good cop/bad cop and generally enjoy having a lot of fun at our Monday night rehearsals. Mr Aughton’s expertise gained from many years in the Coldstream Guards will be hard to replace. We will also be saying goodbye to Ms Diane Llewellyn, who has only been with us for a very short time, but is having quite a career change by becoming a full time science technician in a local secondary school! We will also miss Diane, who has made such an impact on her students. Preparation for ABRSM exams has also been in the forefront of many of the young musicians' minds this term. Firstly, we had the ABRSM theory exams and this year we entered children for both Grades 1 and 2. The theory classes had worked extremely hard throughout the school year, as most of the teaching (even when we were back in school) had to be done online, using my videos and lots of individual feedback. It is therefore a triumph that the children were all able to sit the exam. We await the full set of results, but the ones that have come back so far look extremely encouraging! Following on from the theory exams, we had more than one days worth of practical exams, with lots of entries from lots of different instruments. The children had worked very hard to prepare for these and most of them had made huge progress over lockdown, using their time wisely to get ahead with practice. Many congratulations to all of them for their forbearance and guts to undertake these quite gruelling exams. At this point, I would like to say a big thank you to all of my colleagues in the Music Department for all of their hard work over the past 18 months. Had anyone told us before COVID that we would be teaching instrumental lessons online, we would have been horrified and laughed - how could such a physical thing be delivered in such a way? Well, all of you found a way and not only that, you made it very successful! So I am sure that I am not alone in saying a big thank you for continuing to inspire our children. Also, I must just give a special mention to Mrs Kate Bidwell and Mrs Chris Bullough, who stepped in to cover my work whilst I have been away. Although it is not my nature to ‘relax’ if I am not at the helm, I can safely say that knowing they had taken on the role, gave me the confidence to be secure in the knowledge that the children were in very safe hands. Thank you! Next year we can look forward to the return of a much more ‘normal’ Music Department and I can’t wait to welcome back all of our ensembles! It’s going to be such an exciting time and we hope the seasons will once again be marked with proper, live celebrations such as the Harvest Festival and our Christmas Concerts! Musicians need to perform to live audiences - it is an altogether different experience to recording for a concert. The children have done so well to produce so many lovely recorded pieces, but nothing can replace the thrill of an audience and the relationship of that with the performer. Onwards and upwards

Mrs McAlindon


Oliver The Musical - A Year 6 Production