Using instrumental music lessons and ensembles to achieve Bronze Arts Award

Using instrumental music lessons and ensembles to achieve Bronze Arts Award

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BY: Guest Writer
19 Feb 2024

For our music theme on the blog this month, Charlotte Jones, Curriculum Leader of the Creative Arts at Newminster Middle School shares with us how their pupils achieve Bronze Arts Award as part of the instrumental music lessons and ensembles they attend.

At Newminster Middle School pupils in Year 8 have two weekly Bronze Arts Award sessions timetabled on a Friday afternoon. Whereas the school allows young people working towards Arts Award Discover and Explore to investigate the arts through many different forms, e.g. music, dance, photography, sculpture and painting. By the time pupils get into Year 8 and have the opportunity to take the Bronze award, their interests tend to be more streamlined.


Many pupils at Newminster Middle School choose to take music for their focus to complete the Bronze Arts Award. These pupils are often those who take instrumental lessons. 


We have an extensive provision at Newminster for instrumental lessons. Some of these are providedTrinity 0501 through Music Partnership North and some are taught by external instrumental tutors. The instruments pupils can learn include some less common instruments, such as steel pans, accordion, harp, Northumbrian pipes, bassoon and oboe.


All pupils who play instruments are encouraged to be part of our school bands. Ceilidh, jazz, percussion and steel pan ensembles are on offer to students free of charge if they are learning an instrument. Our school choir is open to anyone who wishes to pursue their love of singing.


Young people who are taking instrumental lessons at Newminster Middle School or are involved in the school bands or choir are able to document their musical journeys through Bronze Arts Award. They use their weekly instrumental lessons, participation in ensembles and performances for Part A ‘explore the arts as a participant’.


Trinity 0394Often pupils choose their instrumental tutors as their ‘arts inspiration’ for Part C. This means they are able to interview their teacher in their lessons to find out about their arts practice, career, life and work.


Linking with feeder schools provides pupils with the opportunity to be an audience member (Part B). This year pupils are being taken to watch the feeder high schools performance of ‘The Addams Family’, where the pupils will review the show. Many of our pupils attend performances outside of school, like pop concerts, pantomimes and musicals which they also review for this section of the award.


The ensemble participation can enable students to complete the Part D ‘arts skills share’. They planTrinity 0357 sessions with their ensemble leader and may lead a warmup activity or teach and rehearse a section of a piece to the band. We also give the Bronze Arts Award students a chance to plan and lead a health and well-being workshop for Key Stage 2 pupils. In the past, these have included djembe drum, Taiko drum and steel pan workshops. These workshops have the potential to decrease anxiety and music has been shown to lower levels of the cortisol hormone, decrease heart rate and blood pressure.

There are so many benefits to being a musician; improving confidence, social and fine motor skills, motivation and teamwork, and enhancing creativity. Arts Award gives pupils the opportunity to really focus, connect and value their participation in the arts alongside providing them with a qualification and vital skills for life.

All images are of Newminster Middle School pupils, by Geoff Love:

Top right: accordion

Middle left: oboe

Bottom right: steel pans

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