Music is a key part of our children’s developments here at Snaresbrook Prep, we believe it enables our children not only a necessary creative outlet and a platform to express themselves. It also helps to deepen concentration, focus and passion; is linked to improved cognitive function; increased language development from an early age and positive social interaction – creating a community for our children to grow within. We take a look through the eyes of our guitar teacher, Mr James Horn who started with us March of this year!
So James, where did your musical career begin?
“I started playing guitar cause I got kicked off the football team, when I was in Year 6… I didn’t enjoy football. My cousin played guitar and I thought it was cool, so I gave it a go. I took my Grade 8 at GCSE and went onto London College of Music to study Jazz. I then moved onto composition and teaching!
Other than teaching at schools, I’ve done composition for a TV comp – 3 pieces were accepted for the programme which will be out in new year (sorry name is under wraps!) and I also write for music library companies: orchestral film scores, short films, documentaries (most recent was “The Naked Cowboy” documentary on New York city musicians playing in cowboy boots and his life story) and tv ad briefs. I absolutely love the variety the job gives me and that it’s not just my job but my passion!”
How do you see the music department developing and what changes have you seen since starting with us?
“All credit to Ms Phillips (Head of Music). The opportunities we have for a broad range of instruments including guitar flute, ukulele, violin, recorder, viola are fantastic. Ukulele is a benefit for them, as it’s a nice way to enable them to progress onto guitar. We start them in Year 2 with ukulele and by Year 3 we move them up to guitar.
The kids, on the whole, are massively enthusiastic and open to learning. Throughout the year the children’s attention span has flourished, they have brilliant focus during lessons and their dedication to learning is phenomenal. They’re such nice kids to work with, I’m proud of how much they’ve absorbed this year. I would love to teach every kid here – that’s the aim! Plans going forward are for small guitar ensembles in assemblies, more events outside of school and even collaborating with other schools, which will be fantastic a opportunity.”
What would be your one bit of advice for a beginner?
“Practise and patience; understand mistakes are key to progression. Age doesn’t make a difference, progression depends on work ethic and practise! Tips for teaching beginners, I’d say make it fun!”
What ways do you try to make your lessons fun and engaging?
“It’s key to keep students progressing through grades and introduce them to different genres so they’re able to continually grow. They all enjoy the “Rock School” grades and playing the parts of the film. I had teachers who taught me just classical. Classical piano or flute is great, but when you play guitar you wanna play rock so the Rock School syllabus (electric and acoustic) has been great because it opens them to a selection of different styles of music.”
What events are the children taking part in this year?
“They will be playing at Manor Lodge, in South Woodford, singing and performing some lovely Christmas carols for the residents. And later on in year they will be playing grade at their Summer Concert, so really looking forward to that, it’s always a lovely evening!”