Lessons, topics, schemes and events all matter a great deal within a music department. But Community Matters and we should strive to build up a solid music department community. This last year has shown that when we don’t have concerts to prepare for, students still want to meet to make music. Community Matters is a blog about how to create a sense of community in your department.
Community matters because a music department is all about the students. As we bring students together for lessons, rehearsals and ensembles we create a community. This gives students a sense of belonging, a tribe to be part of. Within a music department we also have the unique ability of bringing together students from different year groups, backgrounds and social settings. It is a powerful community that we should seek to build. Why, because it is the basis of all that we do. When we put on shows, concerts or performances, we do it as a community.
Building community in a music department isn’t all about rehearsals & concerts. We have to look beyond the moments when students have instruments in their hands. Community can be built at break & lunchtime by just allowing students to meet. This might be broken down into year groups, or it might be that you have an open-door department at break times. It is lovely to see students gathering to chat and build relationship, that way they will take this into the rehearsal room.
Here are some ways that you can build community in your Music Department:
- Open your department to students at break and lunch. Assign senior students to keep an eye on the room if you can’t be there.
- Whilst we need a break, take time out to be in the music room a couple of times a week at break or lunch.
- Create specific moments in the year where you go on trips or have social events – a quiz night is always great fun.
- Use social media to help build community amongst the students.
- Include parents, partnerships and other staff in your community building plan.
- Pair up students who have common instrumental interests.
- Emphasise the value and importance of the wider music department community at all times
Over the years I have seen the power of brining together students to make music. But I have also seen the power of bringing together students to simply exist together in community. The music department community is about students, teachers, VMTs and parents. I love seeing that community come together to rehearse and perform, but I also love the fun moments outside the concert hall. A strong community will put on better shows and perform better in concerts. Raising up younger students will happen more effectively as they work alongside older students.
Why not think about your music department community this week and think about doing something new. Maybe you need to create a Twitter or Instagram account. Try opening the doors at break or lunch. Plan a quiz night either on zoom or in-person. And keep in mind that building community is crucial for the future success of a department.
“Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much” – Helen Keller
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