Music is an integral part of school life. It teaches children rhythm, harmony and grace, and trains the mind and body in a discipline requiring concentrated attention and generosity of spirit. The children learn music that they can really connect with, that is uplifting to the spirit and awakens the love of beauty, goodness and reason. Traditionally, this includes the likes of Mozart, Vivaldi, Purcell, Handel and Gilbert & Sullivan, as well as medieval, renaissance, folk songs and hymns – ancient and modern.
Singing is highly valued in the school and takes place almost every day at assembly or in lessons. Children receive lessons in listening, rhythm and musical appreciation, as well as history of music and composer study for senior classes.
In Year 4, all children are taught to play the recorder in class. Many continue to play this instrument either in private tuition or as part of a recorder ensemble. We strongly encourage students to discover the pleasure and positive discipline of music tuition. Students are able to take private 30-minute lessons once a week with a specialist music teacher, in the following instruments: Cello, Clarinet, Flute, Guitar, Piano, Recorder, Trombone, Trumpet, Ukelele, Viola da Gamba, Violin.
Much of the joy of learning music is to share the fun of playing or singing with others. Recitals are held two or three times each year to give our musicians the opportunity to perform to a supportive audience. Children also have opportunities to perform at assemblies, especially as practice before sitting performance examinations. A music competition is held in September each year in which all students learning an instrument are invited to participate, playing either individually, in duets or in small groups. This also give an opportunity for singers to be accompanied by instruments played by their peers.
Speech and drama
Drama encourages the students to discover their own inner stillness and strength through practical activity. It gives them courage and confidence. Students learn to speak with clarity and emotional sincerity, and practise refined speech and directed action.
Acting and recitation improve language skills and vocabulary and enhance the children’s ability to express themselves beautifully. Memorising lines improves the ability to remember and retain information easily, and attend fully.
All children in the school have at least one dedicated drama lesson a week and regular tuition in speech and recitation. Children will likely take part in three or four productions in their time at Ficino School.
Productions bring the school together in a unique way, and also open the doors to the community at large. Through the process of putting on a production – attending rehearsals, learning lines, and so on – the class grows in strength. Students are put beyond their comfort zone. This discipline builds character and emotional maturity, and it teaches the children generosity.
Productions vary in length and content according to the capacity of the students. Younger students may present a simple fable or story (it is traditional for Class 2 to put on the Nativity Play); older students, short one or two act plays. These can be performed just to the school or their syndicate, or sometimes to their class parents. Senior students (ages 11-13) present a full Shakespeare play, with minor abridgements, which is open to the wider community.
All junior classes and girls Years 5-8 have a weekly dance lesson. It is based on the grace and beauty that comes from real attention. Students enjoy the self-expression that comes from the stillness, movement and harmony of dance. Our dance programme develops skills such as movement expression, musical responsiveness, refinement of coordination and builds understanding and awareness of dance elements and confidence in performance. Occasional performances are given and various traditions of dance are explored.
Beauty is important to everyone, but is particularly vital in the life of children. The walls of the school are alive with the art work of the children. The children’s paintings reveal innocence, beauty and a remarkable level of technical ability. Ficino School’s art curriculum aims to inspire the students with a love of the practice, sharing and observing of art in its finest sense. We make reference to the works of the great masters of the Renaissance period through to contemporary work, observe real objects and use good photographic references, rather than just imagination.
The children are encouraged to open their eyes to the design, colour, form, rhythm, texture, balance and pattern in the world around them. Over the course of the curriculum, they will practise a variety of 2D and 3D experiences and techniques.