It’s 8:30am on a Tuesday morning and corridors of Highfields are flourished with the sound of the Orchestra practising. This isn’t unusual at Highfields – with more than two thirds of our students taking Peripatetic Music Lessons with one of our fabulous experts, there is always music drifting through the building!
As I walk into the school hall, Mrs Lisa Wright, is directing her talented orchestra with such enthusiasm and encouragement.
Whilst chatting to Lisa, her passion for music shines through, I can tell that music isn’t just a job to Lisa – it’s part of her life. Lisa’s love for all things music, means that children at Highfields have so many opportunities to get involved in it; take the school orchestra for example, this is open to children from Form 3 upwards, allowing children to be part of a performing orchestra from a very young age. Lisa has created a music curriculum to ignite a love for music from as early as possible. She teaches music to all ages throughout the school – starting in our nursery, delivering fun and nurturing sessions that captivate the children.
Tell us something about yourself!
I did my Music Degree at Sheffield University and thoroughly enjoyed it. I already sang, played piano and the flute, but it was here that I decided to try the harp and absolutely fell in love with it. From there I have gone on to play the harp in many orchestras across the East Midlands, as well as a solo Harpist at weddings and events. I still perform alongside working at Highfields – in fact I recently played “The Planets” with the Lincoln Symphony Orchestra.
What started your passion for music?
I’ve been told that even from when I was really small, I was musical, but I would say my passion started when I began playing the recorder in Primary School. I loved learning to play; then a music teacher came into my school and I discovered that I liked the flute. I continued to play the flute throughout secondary school, taught myself saxophone and was part of the school Dance Band. We would perform most weekends at events, and would even visit Germany in the summer months. I just lived and breathed music and wanted to continue doing so, and that is what made me decide to do a degree in music.
Did you ever envisage that you would end up teaching music?
Not initially, my passion was making and performing music. However, I taught swimming, (and still continue to) at a club for disabled children, and found this incredibly rewarding. During my degree, I began to think more and more about sharing my passion with others, and how I could get more people involved with music. I knew I’d find teaching music so fulfilling and this spurred me on to do my PGCE with a Primary Music Specialism at Exeter University.
Talk to me about the importance of music in education…
In my eyes, music is incredibly important in education. Music doesn’t just help children with their music skills, it develops the whole child. Confidence and self-esteem are boosted, whilst children get the opportunity to evolve their performance skills. Teamwork is an essential part of making music in a group, or performing in a band or choir – and all of these skills are transferable to all aspects of a child’s education and beyond. Additionally, group singing has an amazing impact on well-being – there have been several studies on what it can do for mental health, and I can see how our children find singing together truly uplifting. Music in education is so much more than just learning to sing or play an instrument!
What do you love about teaching music?
I love every single thing about teaching music, it fills my heart with so much joy! I love seeing how the children learn their songs, how they grow through their music making. I love being really inventive with lessons; instilling creativity in children when they are in our Nursery, and watching that creativity and confidence in music blossom as they move through school. The children’s faces light up when they see which instruments I have brought with me – they are always so excited to try something new. I really enjoy sharing music with the children that they would not necessarily hear out of school and feel that this is a great way to keep them open minded about different music genres – they don’t have to love every style of music, but it’s nice that they can appreciate it! I am really passionate about bringing in the best experts to deliver one to one lessons on a particular instrument, and love hearing about how the children progress in these lessons. It is incredible to see their hard work and focus pay off when we hold Pre-Prep and Prep Music Concerts. I also love that music is such an integral part of Highfields school life and curriculum. Our musicians are involved in so many of our events – the Highfields Orchestra and Choir are always asked to perform and it really ensures that the whole school is involved with music, whether that’s by performing it, or listening to it.
What is the biggest misconception that people have about music in schools/music for children?
I think a lot of people feel that music is dying out in schools, but here at Highfields, it is thriving! I also feel that people underestimate how transferable music skills are into everyday life, the hard work and resilience needed to learn an instrument sets a child up brilliantly.
What is your aim as Head of Music at Highfields?
To get every child in school learning an instrument – although every child plays percussion instruments and learns the ukulele by Form 5 as part of their class music lessons, I’d like to get every child taking part in a weekly Peripatetic lesson and learning to play an instrument. I know first hand the joy that making music can bring, and I genuinely believe that the skills used when learning an instrument are invaluable.
Is there anything else you want to add about music at Highfields?
I am really proud of our music offering at Highfields and the staff here are so supportive of music making; they are constantly encouraging all of our musicians, and championing their successes. music is such a big part of life at Highfields, and I cannot wait to grow this further over the coming years.