Extra-curricular activities are an essential part of the independent school experience.
Both for pupils and the teachers who get involved, there are so many benefits of extra-curricular activities – from developing greater resilience to providing the opportunity for community engagement.
In this blog, Depute Rector Jim McDougall from Hutchesons’ Grammar School explains how a recent concert perfectly exemplified these benefits.
A showcase of talent
With a blaze of lights and thickening haze, the staff band began with the familiar menacing, driving Pink Floyd chords. Meanwhile, slowly emerging from the haze swirling around the tables, two files of pupils from the choir made their way robotically on to stage to intone the classic iconoclastic anthem, “We Don’t Need No Education”.
This then, the arresting opening to a concert that showcased the talent of pupils and, indeed of staff too, belying the sentiments expressed in that opening Floyd number.
The whole night was indeed an education - a well-orchestrated mix of pop anthems, duets, ensemble work and musical theatre, performed by senior pupils from all years, allowing both established and emerging talent to have their moment of fame in front of delighted family and friends.
An opportunity to shine
However, the ‘Night at The Brits’ concert, held at the end of March, was much more than that. It also marked a very welcome return, post Covid restrictions, to large scale performances in front of live audiences, putting the extra-curricular opportunities on offer at Hutchesons, and the valuable role these play in the development of young people, firmly in the spotlight.
Parents value extra-curricular
Chris McNeil watched his daughter Katie, who is in S6, perform a pitch-perfect solo vocal accompanied by a pianist. Chris believes his daughter has gained so much from the experience.
He said: “The encouragement Katie has had both with her own singing and together with the trust placed in her to lead, help and encourage younger pupils has really shone through in her performances and will be so valuable to her in the years to come.”
Jim Winters also recognises the importance of extra-curricular opportunities. He said: “There is no doubt in my mind that our daughter Anna, who played percussion and drums at the event, has gained so much confidence and self-esteem from the fantastic tuition she has received from the Music Department throughout her years at Hutchie and events like these really allow all of the participants to fully blossom.”
Creativity at the core of learning
The energy on stage summed up the ethos of the school. With a mantra of “Let’s do this”, there was a sense of aiming high, doing something different, a focus on matching the right pupils to the right songs, ensuring plenty of musical styles and adding visual pyrotechnics, literally, as the giant sparklers illuminated either side of the stage at the finale.
A perfect blend of raucous rock, poppy tunes, movie themes and a dash of wistful sentiment, such as the arrangement of Caledonia or ballads sung with depth and maturity. What better way to exemplify our core value of creativity?
A textbook collaboration, with all staff members of the music department taking it in turns to lead throughout the evening - playing, singing and conducting, sometimes all three. The evening oozed enthusiasm and fun, but real musical and performing talent, too, all displaying high quality production values.
This was a professional, ambitious show which created a buzz, but also a sense of belonging - a much needed boost after two years of enforced absence. The camaraderie was apparent in the warm applause for the stage crew, as well as the performers, and for the way in which so many pupils waited behind to help the teachers and technical crew to dismantle the three-stage set. The smiles and shining eyes said it all: “We are Hutchie” is surely the message, “…and we are back!”
Extra-curricular is most definitely back. In addition to the concert our pupils have recently benefited from a range of opportunities; from preparing for and attending a Model UN conference at St Edward’s Oxford, where several of our delegates received commendations for their contributions, to reaching the final of the Law Society Donald Dewar Memorial Debate Tournament.
There are many examples of pupils developing their skills, knowledge, and interests out with the classroom at Hutchesons’ and the value of these experiences should not be underestimated. We support our pupils to reach their full potential wherever their talents lie.