Spotlight on Mrs Edgar, Director of Music
Meet Mrs Edgar, Director of Music at Hallfield School
15 May 2023
When did you join Hallfield?
Where were you before you joined Hallfield?
I was up in Scotland, working as a Kodaly Music Specialist across 15 different primary schools in Aberdeenshire. I worked up there for four years, and really enjoyed experiencing a schooling system different to the one we have in England. Prior to that, I was a peripatetic music teacher, teaching keyboards and woodwind in Reading. And before that, I was Head of Music at Plymouth College Prep School.
What made you want to become a music teacher?
I’ve always loved music, and I’ve been so lucky to have had wonderful and inspirational music teachers at my own schools who passed their love of music on to me when I was growing up. I wanted to be able to do the same.
What is your favourite topic(s) to teach and why?
I love teaching all of music, but I particularly enjoy teaching the art of performance. I find it incredibly rewarding guiding children through all the stages, from the initial practice right up to the final bows!
How does your subject enhance a child’s curriculum / development?
Music enhances and enriches a child’s education in so many areas. Research has proven that learning to read music and play an instrument, or sing, can help children develop reading skills. It can increase a child’s ability to think critically, problem-solve, and learn new information. Playing music and singing can have a positive effect on a child’s emotional well-being, promoting feelings of happiness, relaxation and calmness. Music can inspire creativity, allowing children to express themselves and develop their imaginations. And finally, playing music or singing with others can help children develop social and teamwork skills, promoting collaboration and communication.
How does music at Hallfield differ from other schools?
I asked our Visiting Music Teachers to give me some answers for this question, and their answers show how very fortunate I believe the children at Hallfield are in terms of music provision:
We are the only school to offer individual instrumental and vocal lessons – these are done in paired lessons elsewhere
The range of instruments on offer for children to learn is huge compared to in other schools
Our music lessons are longer than in other schools – each child gets an hour’s curriculum music per week and if they sign up for instrumental or vocal tuition, they get 30 minutes rather than the normal 20 minutes
We have a vast array of ensemble and performance opportunities
The music department is one of the nicest and most well organised around, with excellent resources and practice rooms
We offer supervised practice sessions so children can come in at break, lunch and before school to practice independently
Music is used to enhance school events, such as Open Days, special commemorative days like the Queen’s Jubilee, and Speech Day
(And my favourite!) There’s a real lively buzz around the department, from both children and staff.
What does an average day at Hallfield look like for you?
Every day is different and usually incredibly busy! I always start the day by putting on some music and checking my emails before getting ready for the day’s teaching and welcoming the children in for their practice sessions. From then onwards it’s full of class teaching, ensemble rehearsals, keeping a check on whether children have remembered to come for their music lessons and dealing with necessary admin.
What musical opportunities does Hallfield offer pupils?
We have three choirs, a brass band, wind band, orchestra, swing band, ukulele club, strings club, viola club and guitar ensemble, all of which perform to parents throughout the year. We take children on school trips to Symphony Hall and local schools such as KES to watch concerts. We perform outside of school at local care homes. We include music in drama productions from Year 2 upwards. The children can also perform in assembly.
Why is it important to begin teaching music from a young age?
The younger you are when you begin learning music, the better, in my opinion! Studies have shown that the brain develops fastest in the first few years of life and when those neural connections are being made, it’s easier to pick up new skills such as note reading. I started the piano at age 3, and for me, reading music is as easy as reading letters and words.
How does music enhance a child’s future?
Studies have shown that children who regularly engage in music tend to perform better in academic subjects. This can lead to better grades and higher chances of getting accepted into universities and school. Children who take music seriously and put in the effort to improve their skills have a wider range of career options, including becoming a musician, music teacher, music therapist, music journalist, music producer, sound engineer, or concert promoter. Playing music in groups or ensembles requires teamwork, communication and collaboration. These skills are important for success in any job and also help children develop social skills that will serve them well throughout their lives.
What would we be surprised to know about you?
My dad taught Chris Martin (Coldplay) the piano. He used to come for lessons at my house when I was little and I met his mum at a concert once!
What hobbies / interests do you have outside of school (any musical)?
Musical activities play a huge part in my life outside school – I am second flautist in the Worcestershire Symphony Orchestra and lead alto sax in The People’s Big Band. I also play tenor sax with the Warwick Community Band and am learning the cello. When I’m not busy making music, I enjoy exercising (when I can fit it in around being a mum to my two boys aged 8 & 3!)
If you could pass on any wisdom to your students, what would that be?
Play, play and play some more – play anything and everything you can lay your hands on – listen to it as you play, and have fun!
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