New York, New York

Sarah James, Head of Creative Arts at BIS Abu Dhabi, writes about the latest updates in the department including the Juilliard programme and how the programme has been implemented so far:

In January 2016 I took on a new position within Nord Anglia Education, as Regional Lead in the Middle East for our Juilliard programme. As a result of this, during the summer holidays, I took a trip to New York to spend a week with our Nord Anglia and Juilliard colleagues to learn more about the programme we are offering this year. It was a fantastic opportunity, to work alongside the world’s leading Performing Arts institute and share good practice amongst our fellow Nord Anglia colleagues who are involved in the programme this year, which encompasses 38 schools worldwide.

As a Music team, our vision is to make the Arts accessible to all of our students here at BIS Abu Dhabi. We want to develop their cultural literacy, increase their engagement with the Arts and also highlight and develop the transferable skills that the Arts have to offer.

During my week at Juilliard we swapped our roles and experienced what it was like to be students ourselves in the classroom environment again. Our sessions were delivered by Juilliard curriculum specialists and our two Music curriculum fellows in Nord Anglia. We were exposed to a range of different activities that looked at a range of ways that we could develop our students’ active listening skills, channel creativity in the classroom and we explored the core music works that we will be using within our lessons in more depth.

Arriving back in Abu Dhabi I have been excited to share my experiences with my Music colleagues and discuss ways that we can implement the programme further with our own students. Below are some of the ways that this is already happening both in and outside of our classrooms:

·        During my time in New York, I worked with some of the other regional leads and we have developed a Performing Arts Learner Ambitions profile, with which we will monitor our students’ progress. These skills are; Performers, Literate, Perceptive, Reflective, Curious, Creative, Collaborative, Expressive, Culturally Aware. With our students here in Abu Dhabi we talked through the 9 Key skills that we will use in our Music lessons and the students have taken ownership over these words, creating a display which highlights what each skill means to them as young learners.

·        Year 7 are being exposed to Music during their 15 minute registration period once a week, to encourage them to actively listen to a range of different genres and styles of Music, which will culminate in an expressive performance from each form group, later in the term.

·        Year 1 and Year 2 are being taught Music by specialists for the first time and are learning a range of basic keyboard skills to introduce them to the creative world.

·        Year 8 and Year 9 students are beginning to study two of our core works. ‘Blue Monk’ Thelonious Monk and ‘They can’t take that away from me’ George Gershwin to enhance their understanding and development in their current units of work.

I am excited to see the benefits of the programme across all of our students here at BIS as the year progresses and look forward to welcoming you to our launch event on Sunday 6th November (more details to follow), where you can learn more about the programme and see some of the impact this is having on our students.

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