As lockdown restrictions are easing, have you had one of those moments of pure joy, triggered by experiencing something you haven’t been able to enjoy for a long time? I had one last week – I was walking down a corridor in school and I heard a Sixth Form pupil playing the theme from Titanic. He’s a fantastic pianist and the whole school was treated to the beautiful sound of a grand piano being played with passion. That’s the thing about music – it has the ability to instantly uplift us and move us to tears. For both the musician and the audience, music can be a great healer; just what we need whilst we adjust to a different way of life.
At Ffynone, we’ve always recognised the importance of music and the performing arts. Throughout lockdown, our wonderful music, dance and drama teachers mastered Teams to be able to continue live lessons. We had pupils practising violin on the beach, ballet lessons in the kitchen….and our poor neighbours (we live in a terraced house) had to endure months of trombone lessons! Students have become a dab hand at singing from sheet music, playing a backing track and propping up the smart phone that has their teacher on screen. The results were so good that we even had online concerts, with pupils young and old (and some teachers) uploading solo performances.
Despite restrictions, we have capitalised on the time we have had in-person with the students. In the autumn term, Year 7 rehearsed and performed an abridged version of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ in their Drama lessons. This early introduction to Shakespeare and performance left them hungry for more and they will be first in the queue for auditions when we are able to stage whole school productions again. Drama and Dance practical rehearsals and assessments at GCSE and A-level have taken place in the local church hall where there is plenty of space to comply with social distancing regulations. It is testament to the resilience and adaptability of the staff that these students have still been able to showcase their extraordinary talents, even in the middle of a global pandemic.
Our artists have continued to create master-pieces both at home and at school. Upper school students had ceramic kits delivered to them personally at home by our staff so that they could participate in a Zoom workshop with Craftsea Pottery in Mumbles. Students from across the school enjoyed success in a national photography competition called ‘Show and Tell.’ The organisers aimed to encourage young people to express their feelings about lockdown through photography. Eight of our pupils were selected as part of a final forty images from over 22,000 entries!
Performing music remotely is nowhere near as much fun as taking part in live, whole-school productions. We are thrilled at the prospect of our students once again experiencing the pleasures of singing together, dancing, acting on stage, performing in music ensembles, and speaking in assemblies.
Art, Music, Dance and Drama are the feelgood factors that have helped many of us overcome the challenges of lockdown and isolation. So, as theatres start to reopen, we look forward to a summer of culture in Ffynone and take pride in the rich opportunities we provide our students.
Business Manager, Ffynone House School