Music is a subject and art form that cares about the journey that is undertaken to achieve an individual’s potential as a human being. It goes right to the core of education, life and beyond which is why it should lie at the heart of every school’s education, like it does at Bradfield.

Music is a subject and art form that cares about the journey that is undertaken to achieve an individuals’ potential as a human being. It goes right to the core of education, life and beyond which is why it should lie at the heart of every school’s education, like it does at Bradfield.

Music encourages all to search for something more, a beauty and truth, through inquiry, and in doing so helps develop a deeper understanding of ‘self’.

Inquiry, from the Latin word “Quaerere”- to seek, suggests a journey of learning, through exploration, where the process is as valued as the outcome, where there is no right and wrong, and that perhaps does not even have an end point. It requires those involved to take personal responsibility for their learning, to nurture a self-motivation and to find a balance between a desire to improve and a tolerance to remain positive, so that any one outcome is full of confidence and enjoyment.

Music encourages all to search for something more, a beauty and truth, through inquiry, and in doing so helps develop a deeper understanding of ‘self’. Through the very essence of music, a subjective art form, and the responsibility placed on the performer because of its individual nature, both physical (in terms of the unique technique used by each musician) and emotional (the performer expressing their story), music opens up possibilities for a better understanding of ourselves and, through this journey, each other.

This allows a fascinating symbiosis between inquiry and excellence, for which music provides the perfect environment, live performance.

No matter what the standard, ability, age or experience, all who perform exhibit the same characteristics. These include preparation, self-discipline, the ability to overcome fear and judgment, the confidence to present themselves and communicate with an audience and the resilience to bounce back after a setback. On top of all this, performers must be able to compromise and be open-minded about working with others. It is a humbling thought that all performers are on this universal journey.

By investing in music and understanding excellence in this one area, the characteristics needed to be able to succeed elsewhere are primed. Music can transform every individual’s life and with so many skills being transferable, this provides an individual with a healthy sense of self and a confidence that Bradfield’s ‘Education for Life’ promotes so strongly and which employers crave.

Studies have shown that these transferable skills can have a positive impact on academic performance. Opera North’s intensive education programme saw significant rises of up to 20% in their K2 SATs results with primary school participants enjoying three hours of musical activity per week during curriculum time. Due to the complexities of music, universities still consider it as an academic subject, even though it is also an Art.

Music also engages every area of the brain. The fine motor skills that are required in order to play an instrument help activate the corpus callosum, the passage between the left and right hemisphere of the brain, to increase its volume and activity. The emotional aspect of music also helps musicians in both academic and social settings, enabling an increase in executive function (planning, strategizing and attention to detail) as well as helping enhance memory recall.

Equally key to benefitting the social setting, ensembles, especially choirs, allow people to share a sense of unity and common purpose, as well as alleviating stress by lowering blood pressure. They also offer emotional and spiritual release. The uniting of human voices is incredibly special, with research suggesting heart beats begin to unify and become slower when singing together.

 

In today’s society, rife with pressure and judgement, we can surely not afford to look past a subject that champions real success, develops an appreciation of beauty and creativity (as a performer or audience member), and advances happiness and self-identity.

As the subject itself continues to evolve, Bradfield has invested in technologies, both new and old, to help enhance the values of a traditional music education. This has enabled our Year 9 pupils to show heightened levels of experimentation and creativity, free from the rigour of exams, and our performers to enjoy being on stage, confident and free to express themselves.

The recently fitted Music Technology Suite, consisting of 12 iMacs, has transformed our Faulkner’s scheme of work, with a contemporary 21st century style used to enhance traditional music making. Both equally important, we are able to provide lessons that are enjoyable, inspiring, challenging and engaging. The outcome; a 300% increase over the last 18 months in those wanting to continue their music education to GCSE and beyond.

[Excellence is]... Neither being better than others in your environment, nor being the best version of you possible. It is instead the ability and belief to transcend to a higher level of understanding when given the skills to do so or being exposed to an environment that enables this.

Luke Webb, Director of Football, defines excellence at a Music Scholars enrichment meeting

 

On an equally exciting note, it is a pleasure to be able to announce our new partnership with Steinway and Sons, more on which you can read overleaf. The Music Department will soon be equipped with some of the world’s best pianos (including four grand pianos), providing us with an opportunity to both challenge and inspire our pupils and teachers alike. Having had the priveledge to visit their Hamburg Factory, the awe inspiring level of detail, craftsmanship and joy gone into making every milimeter of the piano be one that creates a sound of “excellence”, stands alongside everything Music at Bradfield aspires to be.

The introduction of technology and world class equipment allows us to make the very most of our facility, which, alongside the outstanding teaching and music provision on offer, enables Bradfield to be proud of the ever growing role music plays in shaping all who walk through its doors.

Co-educational Independent School of the Year

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