So my boy did fine last night. Got up, did his two minute piece flawlessly. Did a little boy and sat down. His first public performance just spot on. I was a very proud daddy.
For not the first time I wondered how could you make sure all children had this sort of education? The school is well known musically. If you enjoy choral music, its entirely possible you’ve heard the boys of the school sing. They can, and have, made me cry. 75% of the boys in the school either sing or practice a musical instrument or both.
A lot of that is down to a superb head music teacher. He also has a full time assistant, just as talented, access to a few of the other teachers who also enjoy music, and a large crowd of part time instructors. That helps. Yet a lot rests on him, he is naturally enthusiastic. For instance during the concert last night he was all smiles, helped them get set up, accompanied many, heaped praise on each boy after, and generally looked like he was enjoying himself immensely.
That matters. It telegraphed through into the boys themselves, who encouraged each other, patted each other on the back and heaped on their own praise to their neighbours as they sat down after their little bit. I really liked seeing that, it means music isn’t seen as odd or put down.
Almost 30 boys played last night, and this is the first of four “informal” concerts last night. Any boy can ask to play, they’re allowed to choose what they play. We had everything from the Star Wars theme to a Mozart Andante. From plunked keys to a few real protégés. It only took an hour, and I really enjoyed myself.
Thing is, the school isn’t only good at music. Excellence has a way of breeding excellence. Many of the school sports teams do well, last year they had two year groups in national football finals, the senior rugby team won the county finals, and they had medals from national swimming meets. The walls are dotted with surprisingly good art (there is two full time art teachers, plus they have an artist in residence per year). Then, for what its worth, the school is always well up in the test result school league tables.
The result is I’ve got a little boy who’s very happy (most important) and who’s potentials are being pushed in many directions. He’ll have to make his own life eventually, but we’ll have given him a good start. A part of me hates that I’m buying him that privilege. His education should be the standard every child gets. Unfortunately, having visited the local state schools, I know he wouldn’t get close to the same experience.
The sad fact is though we pay slightly more, the amount the state spends on each child isn’t that much different. The money just gets lost in a monolithic multi level bureaucracy. One less administrator in the centre means one more music teacher in a school. Some things have got to change. I’d love to see every child have the chance at the big smile my boy had last night standing there getting clapped.