Making noise again: Music at Hayes School, Bromley
by Fi Simpson
After 18 months of very limited bubble-based ensembles, we are very excited to be making lots of noise again this term!
Before the summer, we sent out a questionnaire to a cross-section of students, to find out whether we needed to tweak our extra-curricular offer. What came out of that was a huge enthusiasm for more music tech opportunities, and an appetite for musical theatre. We used to run one ‘techsesh’ a week, where students can work on GarageBand projects with teacher/sixth form help, but have increased this to two. We’ll be using some Musical Futures remix projects, with a view to perhaps offering the RSL music production grades in the future. Our musical theatre group will be new – but what we’re planning is to learn and semi-stage some favourite numbers from shows for our concerts. Exactly what we do will depend on who turns up!
As well as the new activities, we will be resurrecting most of our old established ones too. We are hugely excited to be singing in choir again, and plan to start by teaching them some of our old favourites, which over the years have become Hayes anthems. Of course Years 7 and 8 will have no idea about these, so we need to get them on board! We are starting with Alex L’Estrange’s arrangement of Weeping, and also his blockbuster This Is Our World.
We will also be starting up our concert band, jazz band, string orchestra, junior band, guitar group, and two ‘jamsesh’ groups (which operate like a giant rock band). We have a full schedule of concerts in the diary for this year, as well as school and community events such as open day and the local Christmas lights switch-on.
We will be using our school’s newsletter as well as our social media to make a splash about the resumption of extra-curricular activities. We have a blog – www.hayesmusic.blog – that runs from a Wordpress platform, and which we push as the main source of info on all things musical at Hayes. We also have a Facebook page (for parents mainly) and an Instagram account which is popular with students, so we make sure that all information goes out through all online channels. As we start rehearsing, we will post short videos to show what we’re doing. We will also be using video footage of past concerts to show in KS3 lessons to give the younger students a flavour of what it’s all about.
Our annual music tour has always been a hugely popular part of the musical life of our school – in fact, I often think that it is the glue that holds everything together and makes us feel like a giant Family Von Trapp. Our 2020 tour to the Netherlands was postponed to 2021 – and of course, this had to be cancelled. We have missed touring so much. As things stand, I’m really not sure if we’re going to make it abroad this year, so I’m looking into touring to a UK destination in April. I think it will be much easier to market a UK tour to parents, given all the uncertainty over amber lists, fourth waves, and PCR testing.
I often think that extra-curricular music is a bit like a snowball – it needs a push sometimes, but then it keeps growing, almost by itself. This term is going to need a much bigger push than usual, but I am confident that it will soon be gaining momentum, and that Hayes will once again reverberate to the sound of music…
Director of Music and SLE at Hayes School, Bromley