Musician in Residence at Gresham Village School
Gresham Village School
Gresham Village is a small primary school buried in the countryside between Cromer and Holt with 122 pupils on roll.
Over the years we have built up a good reputation for outdoor learning and valuing the individuality of our pupils. About four years ago, I had a conversation with a fellow headteacher, who was fortunate enough to have a group of Czech students over on a type of exchange. He described how they were the most remarkable musicians, because their school put a huge emphasis on learning to play an instrument. I linked this to my own reading about the value of music in terms of children’s well-being and academic performance in school, so decided that we needed to do more music and to do it well; I wanted all our Key Stage 2 children to learn an instrument and play together.
“By Years 5 and 6, the children are playing really well, in fact breathtakingly well.”
As this was well beyond my expertise and the expertise of my staff, I telephoned the Music Service to see what they had to offer and that was how we were introduced to Simon Suter, who has become our Musician in Residence for the past three years.
Simon works with us every Friday and teaches music to every child in Key Stages 1 and 2. Children in Year 1 sing and play percussion and in Year 2 they are introduced to the recorder. When they start Year 3, the children are introduced to the trumpet and start to make their first sounds; by Christmas they are already performing simple carols together. It is remarkable how Simon manages to teach the children not only to produce such pure sounds, but also to play together and to read music. By Years 5 and 6, the children are playing really well, in fact breathtakingly well, not just on trumpet, but also the euphonium, performing regularly from an increasing repertoire. At the end of last year they prepared ‘Miserlou’, that I remember as the theme from Pulp Fiction, and Ed Sheeran’s ‘Perfect’, for our Concert in the Woods in June which we held as part of the Make Music Day event.
The benefits for the children are immense and they love their Friday lessons. It demonstrates that even though we have little musical talent on our staff, our partnership with Norfolk Music Service enables our children to have a rich and inspiring musical experience at primary school.