19 May HT Blog 32 – Music
Next week, on Friday May 24, we will welcome back a popular and well-known external colleague, Tanga Wanda, to Daubeney Academy so that he can deliver some hip-hop based workshops to our Year 7 students around the theme of friendship. Tanga, who is associated with the company Spirit Forge, has previously visited us on a number of occasions since 2016 to lead sessions around religion, philosophy and morality to our students, many of which have also focussed upon our five Daubeney values of respect, responsibility, learning, confidence and honesty, and his Spirit Forge project aims to support young people and indeed adults in a variety of unique and engaging ways with their wellbeing and personal development. On the Spirit Forge website, Tanga and his co-founder Zoe Stevens note that “It has become clear that there is an increasing need to develop ourselves as individuals alongside the ever-developing environments we live in. As our world and technology propel us forward, we continuously find ourselves with new obstacles and challenges to overcome. When we lack positive relationships with ourselves, one another and our surroundings, we quickly find ourselves in difficult situations, struggling to navigate these challenges. These situations are diverse but the symptoms are common in the way they are expressed by people. They often present in the form of purposeless, boredom, depression and anxiety. The resources are often missing to prevent these conditions becoming commonplace in our lives and those of our younger generations until the situations become critical and there is an urgent need for specialist interventions (therapy, counselling etc.). At Spirit Forge, we believe that many of these situations can be avoided, and that what is needed is more of a cultural shift, one which involves naturally integrating wellbeing and character development into our everyday lives in a way which is non-invasive, enjoyable and empowering.” Tanga, whose laid back and intelligent style in the classroom has always won him a great deal of admiration at Daubeney, has a background in Philosophy, Hip Hop and Japanese Martial Arts and since graduating with a BA from Oxford Brookes University in 2013 he has practiced Philosophy in the community, delivered P4C (Philosophy for Children) and Hip Hop workshops in schools as well as trained other practitioners and teachers, working with numerous charities such as The Philosophy Foundation, Breakin’ Convention and The Icarus Trust. He has trained in Aikido and Kenjutsu (Japanese Swordsmanship) since 2003 under the tutelage of Paul Smith Sensei (sixth Dan), receiving his black belt in 2013 and has since taught at Tetsushinkan Dojo in North London. One of the founding members of the Hip Hop Collective Inner Peace Records, Tanga’s music is influenced by his practice as a Philosopher and a Martial artist. His experience as an artist is something which pours back into his practice as a facilitator, bringing an element of creativity, insight and play, and as a result I know that our Year 7 students will not only enjoy their sessions with him but also learn a great deal from the opportunity.
Music is something that we value greatly at Daubeney Academy as we know how important the arts are to the development of a well-rounded individual. Even for a school as small as we are, our curriculum is impressively broad and offers our students access to the wider learning experiences that they might ordinarily expect only to find in larger organisations. We aim to immerse our students in an environment where they can develop their musical skills in order to be able to express themselves confidently and we believe in providing opportunities for students to develop their playing skills so that they see music as a social activity where they can work together and make music to express themselves in a universal way. It should not just be the privileged few who benefit from the opportunity to learn an instrument and play music with each other and that is why in Year 7 students have the opportunity to learn to play the ukulele, an accessible instrument that can lead to a love of playing, both individually and in a group. In Year 8, students select a song as a group, learn the individual parts on guitar, piano, keyboard, percussion or voice and work towards an end of term gig which is then followed in Year 9 by them choosing one instrument from those available and developing their technical ability by playing that instrument to a grade 1, 2 or 3 standard. This provision at KS3, along with frequent opportunities to appraise music that they are both familiar and unfamiliar with, leads to further excellent progress at KS4. In addition, extra-curricular musical activities at Daubeney have many forms, including choir, keyboard club, recorder club and guitar club. Throughout the year we change from clubs running formally or informally; some weeks a more formal, direct teaching approach of guitar is necessary, other weeks the opportunity for students to come along and practice is more appropriate, with the teacher offering help where needed. Choir runs during 3 out of 5 days at break times so that our students can build their confidence and make accelerated progress on an instrument (their voice) which, when used with confidence and some expertise, can lead to more effective access to key stage 4 and 5 music courses. Finally, out of school hours, we provide opportunities for GCSE students to develop their playing skills (including the development of compositional skills) with both 1:1 tuition and peer support. Over the course of the academic year, we showcase and celebrate our students’ musical abilities and achievements by hosting a Christmas Concert, Young Musician’s Competition, and other events run by outside organisations such as the Fiddle Fiesta and Battle of the Bands. The Christmas Concert has also happened over a number of years and has become a Daubeney tradition, with recent years being no exception. Holding these events are very important in the same way that students who practise football skills need to actually play a game every now and then. We also understand the important role that music can play towards securing effective mental health for our young people, and the opportunity to partake in extra-curricular music events raises students’ confidence and opens doors for them to join clubs, bands and other organisations. Music, whether delivered in-house by our specialist teachers or via highly valued and impressive external partners, such as Tanga Wanda, will always be an important component of the Daubeney offer, and I am proud of the efforts that our teachers and our students make towards its ongoing success.