Since September 2017, the pupils at Frank Barnes School for Deaf Children have received group workshops and one-to-one tuition on the cello, recorder, ukulele, and violin as part of a project funded by Music of Life and the Camden Music Trust.
To mark the end of a year learning about music, the children had the opportunity last week to perform to their friends and families in their very own end-of-year concert.
Ruth Montgomery's recorder students performed an exciting variety of jazz pieces and beautiful traditional English and French folk songs. My violin students - who have only been learning the instrument for one term - stood tall and proud with perfect bow holds to play a selection of pieces from the ABRSM's 'Violin Star 1' book. I was particularly proud of two of the young cellists who sat confidently with their instruments and gave spectacular performances of Hot Cross Buns and Mary Had a Little Lamb.
The concert included some of the group workshop songs from the year such as Somebody's Knocking on my Door and There Were Five in the Bed. It was very funny for everyone to watch five of the children act out the song by 'falling' off their chairs and rolling on the floor!
It was also lovely to see the CEO of Music of Life, Maria Teterina attend the concert and to hand out certificates to the children to mark their achievements.
This is the first time that Frank Barnes has had weekly music sessions - in the past, music at the school has been about one-off, short-term projects. This project has been particularly unique in that the music sessions have been delivered in the children's first language - British Sign Language - as well as spoken and written English, by two professional musicians who are also Deaf. Having the opportunity to learn music has also led to exciting new experiences for the children: earlier in the year, the instrumental students formed part of the Camden Music Festival on-stage band at the Royal Albert Hall for the very first time.
As well as supporting language and social development, we have seen the children grow in confidence and creativity through music over the year. Music truly is a wonderful subject that allows all children to grow in many areas, regardless of their ethnicity, religion, social background, or even their ability to hear.
It has been a privilege to work with the children at Frank Barnes - and of course with the staff who have been wonderful in offering their full support in adding music to the life of their school!