One of the joys of music is the way it brings people together, be it the shared thrill of ensemble musicians creating a beautiful harmony, or the enjoyment felt by the audience as they are swept away by a crescendo of sound. These pleasures of music are essential ingredients in a quality music education, bringing purpose to a student developing their technical skill, and building love for music and music-making that can last a lifetime.
So how do you bring these pleasures to music education in a world where teachers can’t see their students face to face? When fellow students can’t be in the same room as each other and the thought of a live audience is out of the question? Ruyton’s Director of Music, Paul Smith and our music team have given careful thought to these questions since COVID-19 required schools to transition to distance education. Their challenge has been to find new ways to deliver and celebrate music at Ruyton, ensuring that students continue to develop as well-rounded musicians, with plenty of opportunities to enjoy and share their music with others.
Well-judged use of technology has been an important part of the transition. ‘Many aspects of the girl’s music learning convert well to a video conferencing or online format', says Paul. ‘Much of the student’s work is individually based and may include quite a bit of listening, analysis and theory, all of which work well in the current climate. Our students are also being challenged to create their own music, using some of the many great apps like Garage Band or Note Flight', he says. 'Another app, FlipGrid, enables girls to upload recordings of their compositions, or of themselves playing their current pieces, and teachers are able to provide feedback just as they would in a face-to-face setting'. Recordings are also key to enabling students to keep up their individual practice at home, often using accompaniments created for them by Coordinator of Keyboard Studies Shaun Jones.
Performance and other opportunities for shared music-making remain central experiences for Ruyton’s young musicians. The School’s regular programme of instrumental soirees now continue virtually, as students perform live for their classmates and teacher via a video conferencing application. Choirs have also successfully moved online and even the role of Ruyton’s student musicians in wider school life continues, as girls play for Assembly via video recording. ‘These opportunities are so important in the development of the musicianship of our students', notes Paul, also pointing out that 'in these challenging times of COVID-19, music has another role to play'. ‘Music has always brought Ruyton students together, but now more than ever, it reinforces their connections with each other.’
As creators, players and listeners, Ruyton’s young musicians are active participants in the School’s music community. Music builds wellbeing and brings moments to experience joy every day.
Community Relations Team