Sir Damon Buffini and fellow trustee, Sue Gutierrez, visited St Barnabas’ Primary School in Pimlico to see Music Masters’ schools programme, MM Learning, in action. Despite its location in a well-heeled quarter of London, the majority of pupils at St Barnabas’ come from deprived households. The Headmaster, Thomas Brendan Shanahan, is proud of his school – pupils are calm and well-behaved and attainment in Maths and English is well above the national average. He attributes this success not only to smaller class sizes and dedicated staff, but also to music!
Every child at St Barnabas’ takes part in a musicianship lesson in Reception and then learns the violin (they are each loaned a size-appropriate instrument) from Year 1 to Year 2 thanks to the Music Masters programme. One of their inspirational teachers takes group lessons within the school day. From Year 3 upwards the sessions are optional; a good number of children choose to continue their violin playing and they have a combination of individual and group lessons with a string orchestra performing at concerts for parents and the local community.
Sir Damon and Sue enjoyed observing both a Year 2 and a Year 5 group and were really impressed by the concentration and determination of the children to learn how to read music and to master this complicated instrument. One of the girls, Zara, has shown exceptional promise and is now on the MM Pathways programme. She is applying for senior school music scholarships in order to develop her talent – she may well follow other MM graduates who have gone on to join the National Youth Orchestra.
The Buffini Chao Foundation is delighted to support Music Masters – why not watch this film to learn more about their work in schools?