Music encourages imagination, creativity, discipline and, as our website states, ‘ Music is a vital part of a complete education, and at St Augustine’s Priory we encourage each girl to develop her musical skills and interests both in the classroom and through partaking in a range of extra-curricular activities’.
Dr Higgins, Director of Music, runs a busy Music Department at St Augustine’s Priory. With the assistance of Miss Westley and the peripatetic Music staff, not only are there concerts galore, including the Summer Concert, the St Cecilia’s Concert and the Carol Service, there are also the weekly Masses, the Feast Day Mass, the various theatrical productions, the variety of instrumental music and singing lessons girls take with the peripatetic teachers, organising the choirs, the orchestras – and the regular class Music lessons – the list is endless. Dr Higgins is instrumental (pun intended) in encouraging and engaging pupils of all ages in the sheer enjoyment of Music.
Vital to the musical life of the school is the recognition of talented musicians and here Dr Higgins tells us about the life of the St Augustine’s Priory Music Department and its Scholars.
‘At St Augustine’s Priory, the Music Department is very fortunate to be well staffed and supplied with all manner of equipment. Things have changed an enormous amount, even from when I was at school – which isn’t that long ago before anyone gasps in horror. I can remember, for example, when our Music Department received one computer – yes, one – with a copy of Sibelius software: we all had to share. Nowadays, things are very different. At St Augustine’s Priory we have a suite of Macs all running Sibelius and subscriptions to various online and cloud-based software.
One of our aims is to engage as many students in musical activities as possible. In class, students are taught how to read and write music; they learn to develop their listening skills; and they put what they have learned into practice through composing and performing. Outside the classroom, we have numerous musical ensembles, as many of you will know. Some of these, such as the instrumental groups, require some advanced musical tuition, but others such as the choirs, don’t require any prior experience at all.
Every year, we select two 11+ Music Scholars. The Department holds numerous concerts throughout the academic year and so we look for candidates who want to get involved with confidence and commitment. Scholars not only give of their time and talent, but they act as role models for other music students.
Sofia Duffy is a talented and committed Form III Music Scholar. She studies the violin, piano and singing. In school, she plays 1st violin in the Senior Orchestra and String Ensemble. She has just passed her grade 4 violin with distinction, which is fantastic. Sofia also sings soprano in the Senior Choir.’
Sofia says: ‘To gain even more experience I am aiming to join a choir and orchestra outside of school. I am working towards Grade 5 violin and piano, and grade 4 singing. To prepare for post-Grade 5 exams, I am also taking Music Theory lessons. Being a scholar makes me feel proud, and I feel I have earned it because I have worked very hard at my studies.’
Sophie Fung is another excellent Form III Music Scholar. She plays in the Junior Orchestra (1st flute), Senior Orchestra (2nd flute) and the Flute Ensemble (3rd flute). She also sings alto in the Senior Choir. Sophie is currently working towards her Grade 6 piano and Grade 5 flute.
Sophie says: ‘I enjoy the challenges that come with learning different instruments. For example, with the flute I am developing my lung capacity, and with the piano I am working on Sonata in C by Mozart which requires lots of dexterity. When I reach a certain grade in my flute, I hope to also study the piccolo. I like being a Music Scholar because it encourages others to get involved in music.’
Music at St Augustine’s Priory is definitely not an add-on subject – it is central to the life of the school, a vibrant heart which expands and delights the spirits of us all.
Categories: Senior Whole School