Music News

Holmer Green Senior - Center of Excellence for Creative Arts Education

Photograph of the blog post author, Manny Sanjurjo

Manny Sanjurjo


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Here at Music Gateway we believe that music education is key in our modern days in order to bring out the creative artist in every single child and in order to support all those talented brute gems who would otherwise not pursue music. Think of all the Mozarts and Jimi Hendrixes who might be cleaning floors or working a tedious office job! That is why we got in contact with Emma Baddeley, Head of the Music Department in Holmer Green Senior School –one of the schools participating in our Next Gen competition- to tell us about her experience while teaching music.

  1. Tell us about yourself, the school & your music department

  2. I have been teaching music for 8 years, and this is my 4th year at HGSS, which is a secondary modern, non-selective school in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. We offer GCSE music at Key stage 4 and BTEC Level 3 Subsidiary diploma at KS5. Students at KS3 have 1 hour of music a week. We have over 90 students taking instrumental lessons in and out of school, which has led to lots of students taking part in extracurricular music. We have a club every day for students to attend and improve their music skills. Our most popular clubs are choir and school band. The choir has so many members we have developed a smaller choir which is audition based to develop our more able singers. Students at Holmer Green Senor School are rewarded for their achievements in music at the Holmer Green Music Awards (HGMAs) in July of each academic year, students work throughout the year to show their potential and the best win the awards.
  3. What’s your favourite memory & achievement whilst working with your music students?

To pick a single favourite memory has proven very difficult as I have so many! These are my favourite two: Our trip to Lake Garda in Italy is a particular highlight of my career. I took 42 students to perform in Lake Garda. We were there for a week and it was an exceptional trip with some amazing students. Another favourite memory is the Summer Concert 2017. I feel that this was our best concert to date. The students really proved that are exceptionally talented musicians. The students showed they can perform but also composed really catchy songs that are not out of place amongst the covers. The Music Department at school is quite unique where students from Year 7 to Year 13 all work together to produce a good musical sound. This has been improved by the students getting to know each other, and this happens at our weekend trip to Woodrow High House. Students spend the weekend making music and completing team building activities really getting to know each other.

All the Music Students Before their Performance in Lake Garda

  1. How important is music education to students & schools? And is anything threatening music in schools?

Music education at Holmer Green is really important and our Headteacher believes so too. “The Music Department is a centre of excellence at Holmer Green and at the heart of the school’s mission to provide all students with a rich and dynamic creative curriculum experience. Students have a wide and extensive range of opportunities to learn instruments, compose and perform in school, in the local community and even overseas. The expertise and commitment of the Head of Department is such that music fully embraces the school’s vision statement to provide achievement and opportunity for all.” – Michael Jones Headteacher 2017. The situation in schools surrounding the arts has uncertain times ahead. The introduction of the EBacc as a performance measure has seen schools focus on those subjects, and locally schools have reduced their music provision. Our school is bucking this trend. Recently our school was awarded Platinum Artsmark award, making us a flagship school for the arts locally.

  1. Tell us about the festival you & your students organized

In 2017, the 6th Form music students at Holmer Green were given the mammoth task of putting on a music festival, and they did! The eight students aged 16-18 worked from September 2016 to ensure the event planned for 1st April 2017 would be a success. They had to fund raise to pay for things like a stage, toilets & fencing. They had to make a profit on the day as the event was in aid of a local charity; Robs ARTTT. The students were in charge of publicizing the event, booking music acts for the day, arranging stall holders to provide food and games for the event. One comment on the day was the stall holders didn’t know they were dealing with students until they arrived on the say and saw them. We raised over £1000 for the charity and the day was a massive success with over 800 people through the door on the day.

6th Form Students Performing at their Own Festival

  1. How would a competition like Next Gen help your students & your school?

The Next Gen competition could help the students at our school by enabling them to record in a top quality provision to create the best sound possible, something which I wish we could offer in school. We would also benefit from updating the very old equipment. The music budget at school is very small, less than £1000 a year. To be able to upgrade the amps, guitars, recording equipment would prove very useful to the students who are hoping to continue in the music industry in the future. Most of all Next Gen has given the students something to focus on when producing recordings of their own music.

  1. What kind of talent can we expect from your students for Next Gen?

The students at Holmer Green are exceptional and the musicians we produce are very talented. You can expect to hear our school band, which is made up of all the instrumentalists from Violin, Flute and Clarinet to Saxophone, Drums and Guitar. We also have a very strong choir who have produced some excellent performances in recent times. Away from the school ensembles you can hear a lot of very talented soloist who perform music from many different genres.

Does your school also have talented students who would be interested in our Next Gen competition? Check this blog to get informed!

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