Two hundred and fifty young musicians from schools in the Watton cluster came together on Wednesday 29th June for their First Access Musical Extravaganza! Supported by music staff from the Norfolk Music Service, pupils in years 3-6 from Parker’s Primary, Ashill Primary, Wayland Junior Academy, Caston Primary, Thompson Primary, Great Hockham Primary, and St Peter & St Paul Carbrooke Primary Academy, all took part in a day dedicated to celebrating their achievements of learning instruments as part of the Whole Class Ensemble Teaching (WCET) programme in Norfolk.
WCET is provided to these schools as a cluster partnership, of which they are passionate, as Head Teacher Laura Sproston explained; “we are the only cluster across the country that does WCET as a partnership, and so we are driving things forward and setting an example for other clusters”.
The aim of the day was to inspire creativity through enjoyment of making music together, and to create a large ensemble piece that integrates a professional level of music making with the early stages of instrumental learning. Following rehearsals in the morning session, the performance in the afternoon featured two-part songs, incorporating movement and instrumental sections, and the showstopper of the performance, a vocal and instrumental version of The Nights by Avicii. The concert was a musical extravaganza with clarinets, recorders, flutes, ukuleles and ocarinas being played by pupils.
Bringing all the young musicians together in a day’s celebration such as this reinforces the feeling of being in a cluster with other schools, as Woodwind Coordinator for Norfolk Music Service, Gillian Shaw explained; “It gives the music they have been learning a purpose, a meaningful and enjoyable experience, and a quality experience of performance”.
“This is a significant event and a huge collaborative piece of work”, said Head Teacher Laura Sproston. “These are children that may excel in music in a way they might not in other subjects. WCET opens doors to these children in rural locations, adds another layer in school and enriches their education. The difference of musicality in children in just two years is extraordinary, and it is down to good teaching by Norfolk Music Service staff that needs recognition. The behaviour and learning in the children who learn instruments through the WCET programme is exquisite!”
Mrs Sproston thanked the venue, Wayland Academy, and all staff who enabled the best performance in the space provided, by setting out the chairs, welcoming guests, and who also changed the school’s lunch time at the last minute so interruptions were minimised. A special thank you was given to staff from Norfolk Music Service; Marion Danby, Polly Fenn, Ian Draycott, Brian Eade, Ian Chopping, Anna Parker, Martin Eaton, Hefin Miles, Gillian Shaw, and other musicians Barnaby (bassoon) and Toby (trombone; who is on his gap year and will be going on to study at Birmingham Conservatoire), for their overall support and brilliant playing, who treated the pupils to a surprise rendition of The Simpsons theme during the concert!