Insights | Music & Drama: What Is the Point?

”It’s the most wonderful time of the year”, as the old song goes. Christmas festivities have always had inherent drama: lights, sound and movement, be it in the shopping malls and commercial districts, or more private settings like gatherings with family and friends. Where there is drama, there is always a want for music, and of course, Christmas is no different. Carol singing, Christmas pop songs and instrumental pieces like ‘Troika’ by Prokofiev or ‘Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy’ by Tchaikovsky make this time of year so special by evoking memories of previous holiday seasons.

A music and drama education will prepare our children with the life skills needed to succeed during and after their lives at Wellington College International Hangzhou. The aim is not to create a musician or actor out of every child; rather, the aim is to give every child an opportunity to exercise each facet of their intellect to succeed in their field of choice.

At Wellington, music and drama are taught in a truly holistic form as it requires the exactness and precision of science, the spatial awareness of mathematics, the coordination of PE, the creativity and mindfulness of art and ability to communicate across cultures. At the core of this combination of disciplines will be an emphasis on the social skills needed to be successful in life: collaboration, compromise and leadership.

This is the strength of music and drama. A simple whole class performance of ‘Frère Jacques’ all the way to more complex rhythmic performances using polyrhythms and polyphony will exercise all of these areas. Drama also aids a child’s confidence at an early age and can even help to restore lost confidence in older children. To nurture each child individually is the goal of a Wellington education as it has the potential to transform a child’s beliefs and worldview.

This is not to say that music and drama only exist to support subjects like English and Maths. They are not only a necessary part of school life, but life as a whole. As Alex Kalivretenos states:

“What would life be like without music? Imagine it for a moment. No listening to music on the radio on a long drive. No music to dance to. There would not be any soundtracks in movies, and concerts and musicals would be nonexistent. Eventually, no one would even remember what music is. Many people do not realize it, but music has a bigger effect on their lives than they may think, and they would definitely care if it was to disappear. Without music, life would never be the same. To keep music alive, students must be educated about it in schools. Students will not only get to experience and enjoy what music has to offer, but will reap the innumerable benefits that come with music.” (The Humanist, 18th March 2015)

It is not hard to see a similar application to drama. The film and television industry is one of the largest sources of entertainment worldwide, not to mention the live theatre that is experienced on every continent in cities including Shanghai, New York, London, Rio de Janeiro and beyond.

Music and drama play an important role in a child’s development. Although I strongly believe that we have a number of incredibly talented children who will become successful in these fields, I do not expect all the children to become musicians or actors. My goal is to help every child achieve their full humanness and understand that even if they are not at the top of their class, they can achieve anything in life that they want. I can find no other subject that so actively works toward helping children realise their potential. That is the point of music and drama: to provide endless short-term and long-term opportunities for each and every child, and to encourage a love for a subject that will aid them in ways that they do not yet know.