Making music at Leechpool is about having fun
(and a whole lot more)
6th March 2018 will always be a landmark date in Leechpool’s busy life. On that day, three years of planning, fundraising, discussion and decision making culminated in the formal opening of the school’s purpose-built music studio, known by everyone as The Music Box.
Replacing a range of ad hoc arrangements, The Music Box provides an aesthetically attractive, permanent and practical space for teaching, personal and performance practice as well, of course, school concerts; in addition it boasts professional recording facilities and houses a secure instrument store.
The opening featured pupils performing and talking about music with two members of the famous soft rock group The Feeling. Ciaran and Kevin Jerimiah from the extraordinarily successful Horsham based group added their own magic to the occasion, applauding performances by Leechpool's musicians, answering (many) thoughtful questions in a pupil lead question and answer session and cutting the ribbon in a traditional opening ceremony.
Music at Leechpool will never, of course, be confined to the new Music Box but it will become the hub and driving spirit of the school’s musical life.
“Music is a constant thread that winds its way through the whole fabric of life here” admitted Head Teacher, Nicola Davenport. She is an unabashed enthusiast. “Making music together is a very special experience for every child. Year on year, we carefully nurture this innate enthusiasm to open up a wealth of opportunities that broaden our children’s experience and enjoyment of music in all its forms.”
Music, through play, singing, listening and through an early introduction to a variety of instruments, is an intrinsic part of school life from day one. In the words of one parent, “it’s a joy to see the happy faces, the open hearted excitement with which children greet their music making opportunities during the first days and weeks of their school life.” Nicola Davenport concurs, “it lifts your heart when you hear children spontaneously break into song or see them get together in their own time to rehearse an instrumental piece they have been working on in their music lessons.”
During every school year, pupils are given many opportunities to perform choral and orchestral pieces to audiences of parents and friends. These events culminate in a major open -air showcase of amazing musical talent at the school’s summer ‘Leechfest’ festival. Rehearsals for the festival greatly impressed the Ofsted inspectors in the summer of 2017; in their final inspection report published that Autumn they highlighted the significance of music at Leechpool and the benefits to its pupils. Music (and art), they wrote, “feature strongly and contribute much to pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development”.
The Music Box was always a very ambitious project but one that was essential to sustain and develop musical excellence at the school. Mrs Davenport is the first to acknowledge the important contribution that many have made to ensure the project’s successful completion. “It has been a great team effort” she said “and everyone, is thrilled with the result; pupils are benefiting today and will benefit for years to come”.
Acknowledgements and grateful thanks
Leechpool School wish to acknowledge the support and help of many within and beyond the school community including: Ecopod – who excited us all with brilliance of the original concept they submitted; James Bailey, then a trainee architect, who contributed many supporting ideas; Hazell Wellcome, the school’s business manager who made this her ‘special project’; LEAF who gave much through fund raising; The ’School Dad’s Band 5D’ whose fund raising and technical help and support was vital to the project’s success; Mr Jason Gooding for his organisation of the instrument store. Many others, too numerous to mention, have supported the project with help and advice. The school is indebted to each and every one.
The total net cost of this project is in the area of £110,000. With the help identified in the acknowledgements, the school has already paid approximately 50% of the cost with the balance to be paid off over the next five years. Fundraising will continue during this time to enable the school to make the appropriate repayments.