Jessica Berners, the Lead Teacher of Whole Class Instrumental Teaching for Norfolk Music Service, is celebrating her ninth consecutive year of success in the Music For Youth festivals. Since 2009 she has led groups of young people from the King’s Lynn area at the Regional Festivals and, by invitation, to the stage of the National Festival in Birmingham. In total she has supported approximately 540 pupils in their performances. She has collected a t-shirt from each annual event and is looking forward to expanding her collection once again this year when performing with two groups from St Martha’s Catholic Primary School at Symphony Hall, Birmingham, in July.
Jessica said: “I am always immensely proud and honoured to have my groups selected, and my excitement when the news come through never wanes! Each year I probably get more excited as I think my luck will come to an end!
MFY events are special because they are on a Regional/National level, not just County. Having the opportunity and chance to progress to the next stage gives a certain goal to aim for.
Pupils react really positively and ‘up their game’ when they perform alongside other counties. They are proud to represent their own county!
My highlights have been getting (at the National Festival in Birmingham) 3 x NUT Infants/Juniors Awards (2010/2011/2012), Achievement Award for Performance Practice in 2014, and a nomination for a Partnership Award in 2015. Hearing the Music Mentors give positive comments is always rewarding – they especially like the name of one of the groups “Ukelear Power”! Last year one group was invited to play at the Aldeburgh Primary Proms after being heard in Birmingham, but I still haven’t managed to get to the Schools Proms at the Royal Albert Hall in London!
Whole Class Instrumental Teaching (WCIT) is “Learning Music Through an Instrument” in my eyes, so instilling a passion for music, and having fun is key (no pun intended!!). Music is probably the hardest subject for a non-specialist primary class teacher to teach, so having a specialist means children will get a more enjoyable experience on the whole! Giving them an opportunity to learn an instrument gives them an insight into what you have to do to become a musician. It gives a thorough grounding of all the key elements enabling them to apply this knowledge to learning any instrument.”
Jess has also been featured on the Music For Youth #MyMFY blog!
The Music For Youth National Festival runs from 4th – 8th July 2017. Around 8,000 of the UK’s brightest young musicians selected from Regional Festivals come to perform at world-class venues and city-centre locations across Birmingham. They also have the chance to get involved with workshops and hands-on sessions led by professional musicians and leading arts organisations as part of the Festival Fringe. The performances are open to the public, with early bird ticket offers available until 30th May.
In addition to the two ensembles from St Martha’s Primary School, led by Jessica Berners, there are other ensembles representing Norfolk at the MFY festival: Cantebene from Springwood High School and the Norfolk Symphonic Wind Band.