I have the pleasure of being employed at The Guildhall College of Music on Saturday mornings. It's an arduous 3 hour, 5:40am commute to London from Derby, but I have to say, I love it. My work is part of the String Training Programme: children aged between 5 and 11 have a 40 minute Dalcroze class, a 40 minute Kodály class, a 40 minute ensemble lesson (i.e. orchestra, string quartet, etc), and an instrumental lesson. My role is to teach Dalcroze Eurhythmics- I'm a trainee teacher at the moment and have been filming my lessons, in order to submit footage for assessment, following my study on the Dalcroze Certificate course. With 6 classes of a total of around 70 children each week, it has been a very steep learning curve for me!
There's nothing like being thrown in at the deep end
to find out that actually, you can swim!
It's such a great programme for children, and is really helping me think about what I offer my own private piano students back in Derby. I think that all children (and adults!) should be able to access great education like this. In the Dalcroze lessons, the children learn music, away from their instrument. They learn an array of musical topics including pulse, rhythm, phrasing, dynamics, articulation and form, through movement. Their Kodály lessons focus on musicianship through singing. These children are trained to be musical people, rather than just people who know how to operate a violin, piano or guitar.
The children at Junior Guildhall are part of a community - they learn together, sing and play together, they have concerts together. Being such a prestigious institution (the annual intake for the Kindergarten course is 40 children, and the waiting list has at least another 40 names), the Guildhall has very high expectations of practice. They advise each pupil to practise for the amount of their lesson time each day: if they have an hour's lesson every week, they're expected to play for an hour each day. So it's really great that the children can share the fruits of their hard work with others who do the same thing!
I love the 'work hard; play hard' strategy. The children at Guildhall have so much fun. In fact, one important selection criteria is that the children love what they do.
This week, The Guardian has published its annual Univeristy rankings list, and The Guildhall College of Music has ranked 6th in the UK for its undergraduate music course. The String Training Program is separate from the University, but still, it's really wonderful to be so closely associated with such high quality work!