Junior School Spring Music Highlights

By Ms. Laura Bates, Head of Music, Junior School 

As the end of the school year approaches, the music department has been reflecting on the many successes and challenges that have come our way. From our beautifully renovated spaces to this global pandemic, we have all been kept on our toes!

This week, we are particularly nostalgic for the WPGA performances that celebrate our students’ musical learning that would have typically taken place from April to June: our Choral Sharing, Arts Week, Grades 1-7 Spring Sharing Sessions, and our second Musical Soiree to feature our extracurricular ensembles. This is usually a time when the cumulative growth of our students is bursting and musically ripe for performance!

Although we are wistful for these missed opportunities, WPGA’s music teachers had the chance to flex their divergent thinking skills to find ways to support our students’ engagement in meaningful musical learning over these past 10 weeks. Our focus on the process has never been more important as our students embraced new ways to experience music-making at home.

Exploring and Creating
In grades 1 and 2, students used items from their homes to create their own percussion instruments while everyone in grades 1 through 7 enjoyed their discovery of Chrome Music Lab’s Song Maker to explore both melodic and harmonic composition at various levels. Grades 6 and 7 discovered the Video Game Music genre and imagined their own game. After deciding between mood music and character leitmotif, they used a site called Beepbox to design their own music.

Reasoning and Reflecting
From musical goal setting to guide personal development, to listening and reflecting on the recorded performances of others, our students have had time to look at the processes involved in creating, refining and performing music. In choral classes, students have reviewed best practices in vocal warm-ups and continued to consider essential tools such as metronomes, fingering charts, and tone development on their instruments.  

Communicating and Documenting
Across all grades, students performed their work with their music teachers. In kindergarten, some students shared their abilities to match pitches while singing with their performance of beat and rhythm. Grades 1 and 2 sent in their own song performances, including “Let’s Save Water” and “Land of the Silver Birch.” Grades 3 to 5 choral classes took on the Ewok singing challenge and recorded these performances, among many others. In band and strings, grades 3 and 4 sent in videos of their instrumental playing to show their continued growth, while grades 5 to 7 engaged in performance challenges such as the 7pm Ode to Essential Workers. Our Grades 6/7 singer elective collaborated with our strings program to create a virtual project of their work on West Side Story that will be released soon.

These are just snapshots into our musical world since COVID-19. We are incredibly proud of the creativity and resilience demonstrated by our students throughout eLearning.

Looking Ahead
Music can be a lifeline in times of difficulty. The expression of communities worldwide, singing and playing instruments on balconies during lockdowns, performing on their porches, and sharing virtual concerts and livestreamsthis brings comfort while uniting us. 

Our music team considers ourselves lucky to be at a school that embraces the arts and its impact on student learning and wellbeing. From growth of self identity and self confidence to connection and community building, the study of music positively affects students’ social and emotional development. It is also proven to support success in literacy and numeracy development and overall brain chemistry.

September might look different in the music department at WPGA. Regardless, our music team is committed to continued meaningful engagement through music while supporting your child’s core learning and respecting health and safety guidelines. We will continue to research and prepare best practices for whatever may come to ensure that our students get the best learning experience possible. 

A Musical Summer
However, before we think about fall, let us look towards summer. With some unstructured downtime ahead, our WPGA Family Music Choice Board includes ways for you to engage in music with your family during the summer. We hope you enjoy exploring the activities together!

On behalf of the junior school music team, thank you for all that you do at home. We wish you and your family a wonderful, safe and healthy summer.