The creative arts are an integral part of life at Elizabeth College. Students at the Upper and Junior Schools are encouraged to pursue their interests and extend their creative talents, to explore and ignite a passion for the arts that extends beyond their school years.
Music is of great importance to the school. A comprehensive range of instrumental lessons can be arranged, for which there is an extra charge. Choirs perform throughout the year, as well as flourishing instrumental groups. Students perform in the Elizabethan Concert at St James Concert and Assembly Hall, as well as other venues including Town Church.
Vibrant artwork is displayed throughout the school buildings to celebrate our students’ creativity. Drama activities are enjoyed by all pupils with annual productions taking place at the Upper and Junior School.
There are plenty of opportunities for students to develop their artistic potential and exhibit their work. The summer exhibition is the highlight of the year for students working towards GCSE and A level examinations in Art and Photography. The work is always exciting and often thought-provoking with students working in a wide range of disciplines, from traditional approaches such as drawing, painting and print-making to new media such as installation, and video art.
Everyone, regardless of ability, is encouraged to explore their creativity and enjoy making art, and Art Club is a weekly addition to the after-school activities programme with projects such as mask making and animation. Pupils can also get involved with painting the sets for the school play or entering art competitions. Above all, we aim to foster a love of art and an appreciation of the central role it plays in the developing culture of our community.
The Gate House Gallery at Elizabeth College is a student, community and international artist exhibition space, located in the old Gate House.
Art is a superb platform for developing the imaginative, creative and personal sides of an individual’s character and so we encourage all of our students to experience a wide variety of techniques and formats. The Art lessons include opportunities to explore painting, sculpture, drawing, textiles, printing and collage.
Students are also encouraged to consider why people create Art and why it is important. The students look at the wealth of knowledge and ideas that have gone before us and how they connect to contemporary pieces. The study of artists’ work is often an important starting point for children and broadens and stimulates their own creativity.
We are lucky to have a very well-equipped Art Room and our own kiln. Much artwork of a very high standard is produced by the children and is celebrated in the displays around school.
Weekly classes are timetabled for all students in Year 7-8 and Music is one of the Creative Arts options in Year 9. Music qualifications are available at GCSE and A Level. In addition, before the school day, every break time and after school, students can be found zooming off to rehearsals, lessons and practices.
Beyond this internal support, there is an enormously valued contribution offered by, for example, the Schools’ Music Service and the Gibson Fleming Trust Scholarship programme.
The music curriculum at Elizabeth College is underpinned by the following key principles. Many of these principles stem from the pedagogical philosophies and methods established by Zoltan Kodály. Kodály was a Hungarian composer, music educator and ethnomusicologist, whose ideas have been applied and adapted all over the world.
- Music belongs to everyone and should be accessible by all.
- Singing and moving is a vital foundation for music education.
- Practical, sequential, developmental teaching is the most effective way to achieve music learning.
- Repertoire of quality, drawn from a range of genres, which will expand pupils’ skills, understanding and experiences will be used.
- Musicianship (the study of musical skills, theory, understanding and practice) is something everybody can work to improve, regardless of prior experience or knowledge.
Music at the Junior School is full of excitement, variety and fun. All of our students have access to weekly Music Lessons which are practically based encompassing beat, rhythm, tempo, pitch, duration and timbre using all the instruments available to them. Our students also begin learn to record their work using simple pictorial notation.
We are privileged to have a designated Music Room with numerous percussion instruments ranging from the usual tambourines and shakers up to the wonderful Djembi drums. We also have a large number of tuned instruments such as the xylophones, ocarinas, recorders, violins and guitars and the ever popular Boom Whackers.
Students from Year 2 are currently offered the opportunity to start learning a musical instrument. As they move into Year 3 we have the following ensembles and clubs: Full Choir, Friday Choir, Orchestra, Steel Pans, Samba Band and Junior Music Club.
A number of productions are staged on an annual basis and have ranged from the classic ‘Journey’s End’, ‘Macbeth’ and ‘The Importance of being Earnest’, through to the hugely entertaining family favourites ‘Oliver’ and ‘The Wizard of Oz’.
All students at College are given the opportunity to audition and if the acting side doesn’t appeal, helping with the technical aspects of a show can be equally rewarding. Meanwhile, for those interested in artistic design, drama also enables skills in programme and ticket design to be realised.
Drama at College enables students from different year groups to mix in an informal atmosphere and develop friendships that might not otherwise have materialised. For the older students, it is an opportunity to lead and inspire their younger peers and show the skills of negotiation and independence that College strives to instil. Furthermore, some productions enable the College to link with The Ladies’ College, which once again encourages wider friendships to be developed, many of which continue to blossom post-production.
Cast and crew alike gain a tremendous amount from participating in drama and each and every production is a test of our pupils’ artistic ability and their desire to be part of a dynamic and exciting part of College life.
We believe that Drama is an active way of learning which feeds into many areas of the curriculum across the key stages. It is a wonderful way to imaginatively engage young children in their learning as well as being an art form in its own right.
Drama is incorporated into the curriculum throughout the Junior School, particularly for Literacy and History. Role-play enables the children to develop their understanding through physical and emotional involvement while staying within a safe environment. In Year 6, pupils prepare for the transition to secondary school by taking a separate 35-minute Drama lesson each week. Digital cameras are often used to record images and video, helping the children to appraise and improve their practice. Meanwhile, sound effects and music are often added to enhance the atmosphere in the children’s dramatic pieces.
One of the wonderful aspects of Drama is that it offers equal opportunities – no child should feel excluded or unable to participate. It has no boundaries, retains no prejudice and enables every child to achieve.