Since September H has been working towards a concert with this school and a number of other schools. Basically the way it works is that it’s headed up by the secondary school that his primary school feeds into and the other feeder schools get involved too. All the Year 5 classes take part as well as a number of volunteers from the secondary school. It’s quite a commitment from the secondary school’s music department as the head of music has been coming into H’s school every other week to rehearse the children. He’s been doing the same with the other schools (I think there are 8 or 9 of them) too and he has been doing that since September. H has really enjoyed the rehearsals as the teacher is so much fun and he’s looked forward to him coming in.
As H is my first (and only) child coming through the school I hadn’t realised what a big deal this concert was until we went. It’s staged at Birmingham Town Hall, which is an amazing building. It’s nothing to do with local government being purely a concert hall (although it is council owned). It’s a grade 1 listed building that was built in 1830 and its imposing classical architecture means it’s a stunning venue. In the past Elgar and Mendelsohn have staged premieres of their music there and in the 1960s the Stones and the Beatles played there. So performing there is the real deal. As we were waiting for a coach party of parents to arrive, the teacher in charge it told us a little about the organisation. It costs about £10,500 to stage, so the school charges parents for tickets and they get sponsorship from local businesses. I’m not sure of the breakdown of the costs, but clearly the venue won’t be cheap, but they had professionals on the lighting and the pyrotechnic effects. There was a professional video company there to film it and during the performance they streamed the film onto a big screen, so you could still see your child even if they were at the back. Whilst it’s clearly an expensive project, I do think it’s worth doing. The children will have gained so much from the experience of being part of a professionally produced production. As well as that it cements the relationships between the schools and makes them feel like a part of the same community. Plus I know that the music department is very inspirational, if H should end up going to this secondary school. In fact, it’s H’s first real involvement with the secondary (there have been some sports coaches coming out and kids going back to take part in sports competitions, but as H isn’t that keen on sports, he hasn’t been interested in it).
So how did H do? He did well. It was a long demanding day for the children as they had to go in earlier in the day for rehearsals and then perform in the evening. H had two packed meals that day: lunch and tea. He knew all his song words and joined in with the actions. All the children did so well and there were no mistakes. I took my mother along and she thoroughly enjoyed it, in fact, she’s looking forward to attending again in future years when my brother’s children take part (they are in another of the feeder schools). H loved taking part: he loved learning the songs and prancing around the house singing them at the top of his voice. I’m so glad he had the opportunity to take part in this experience and I think it’s something he will remember for the rest of his life.