It hardly seems possible that we have come to the end of our primary school careers at Herbert Hurd, but here we are. As we reflect on the activities of 2017, we realise what an important (and time-consuming!) part music has played. Many of us who are 14 years or younger have enjoyed the benefits to be gained in the music department, and we realise how privileged we are to be at a school which offers activities such as a concert band and two choirs, not to mention the individual tuition which has equipped us to make and appreciate music.
2017 has been challenging in many respects. With the departure of Ms du Toit and Mr Strydom, it was necessary for some swapping of woodwind pupils to take place so that each teacher is teaching in his or her area of specialty, although both Mrs Canter and our new Miss Fowlds are competent to teach all the woodwind instruments offered here. Mr Koopman, the new brass teacher, has had to step in to teach Grade Seven class music – a job with demands like no other. Miss Fowlds has also taken over the accompanist role previously filled by Ms du Toit. We do wish a less disruptive year upon the music department in 2018!
Every Hurdian is exposed to the Performing Arts at this school: there are weekly classes where children are given a basic education in the three areas of the subject, those being music, dance and drama. By the end of any given year, each child will have had an opportunity to learn about and take an active part in each of these areas. Drama seems to be the favourite – who doesn’t like to pretend to be someone else at times? - although dance comes a close second.
The senior choir has been somewhat less active this year than in 2016 when we rose to heights previously unimaginable. Our performances have been limited due to the changing circumstances – an Easter programme with songs highlighting this special time in the Christian calendar, a Mothers Day performance, and then, in September, a Grandparents Day event where, at the eleventh hour, we combined with the wind band to present two items. These received such rousing applause that we have set our minds on similar productions for the future. Miss Fowlds is settling in as the new accompanist. Never let it be said that anyone who can play a piano can accompany: it requires special talent. We are delighted to announce thatCaitlyn Blouw, Gemma Bower and Jamie Coetzee were selected to be part of the Eastern Cape Children’s Choir. We are very proud of them.
The Junior Choir, consisting of Grade Two and Three pupils, under the directorship of Mrs Simons and accompanied by Mrs Warneke, has gone from strength to strength. Mrs Simons is insistent on teaching the children to sing with “butterfly voices” – lovely pure tones, and much of their practice time is devoted to this. This choir consisting of littler people has entertained mothers, grandparents and children on various occasions and has been warmly received. Luke Momberg, Gabriella Remy and Kendra Wilkinson from the Junior Choir have been selected to be part of the Eastern Province Children’s Choir and we congratulate them.
PEARSON ARTS FESTIVAL
In late July we took our first shot at the Pearson Arts Festival where Mr Koopman had his first outing with the band. What a welcome acknowledgement the A+ result was! A number of our pupils also entered the various solo categories and their results were most pleasing. These were Riley Doyle, Kayla Schmelzer, Chinika Goliath, Jordan Jenneker, Sarah-Jade Henry, Julia Quevauvilliers and David Lindemann.
Individual lessons in the playing of instruments continue apace. In spite of the rising cost of entering pupils for the Royal Schools exams, we were able to enter nineteen this year. We would like to congratulate Jordan Jenneker, Caitlyn Blouw, Chinika Goliath and Jayden Agnew who achieved distinctions in these exams. It is pleasing to note that the demand for individual lessons is increasing – the waiting list for piano lessons has grown substantially. Testing to match wind instruments to suitably talented children will take place during the exam period. Generally speaking, this is by invitation, although there is no harm in letting the music department know if your child is desperate to play in the band one day. One needs to remind aspiring musicians, though, that NO PROGRESS IS POSSIBLE WITHOUT RIGOROUS DAILY PRACTICE. It’s not a walk in the park – playing an instrument requires discipline and commitment.
NEW THIS YEAR – STUDIO CONCERTS
An innovation in the music department has been a shelving of the annual Music Morning in favour of an evening event, spread over three evenings to accommodate a beginner group, an intermediate group and a more advanced one. Every child who takes lessons at the school is expected to perform. This makes it possible for a greater number of parents to attend without having to take leave from work, and it has certainly paid off: each of our events was attended not only by a mom or a dad, but by grannies, grandpas, cousins, aunts and uncles – at least that was the impression created, and we loved it. We were amazed at the response to the new format and will definitely build it into the programme in future years.
ALEXANDER ROAD PRIMARY SCHOOLS CONCERT
The Herbert Hurd Concert Band again took part in the annual Alexander Road Primary Schools Concert. This is a wonderful opportunity for us to hear a number of different junior school bands, and also to be inspired by the brilliance of the Alexander Road bands. Music teachers love this opportunity too, to chat to their past pupils and to see the progress they have made. This event was Mr Strydom’s last performance before his retirement as the band director, and tribute was paid to him for his noteworthy contribution to music in The City of Port Elizabeth.
HHPS BAND FESTIVAL
At the 2017 band festival, a new horse in the form of Summerwood Concert Band was introduced to the stable, and what a great addition it was: Summerwood Primary certainly gave a rousing performance on the night, as did Collegiate and Herbert Hurd. Alexander Road were our High School guests who played inspirationally under the baton of Ms Coleman. Mr Marlon Louis kindly agreed to be the guest conductor of the massed band – what an experience it is to hear upwards of 150 young musicians all playing at the same time! This was Mr Koopman’s first outing as the bona fide band director. We look forward to watching and listening as he continues to make progress with these band members.
FOURTH TERM ACTIVITIES
Much musical activity occurs in the fourth term as every grade wants their Awards Ceremony to look good – and how better to achieve that than with the co-operation of the Music Department. Participation of both choirs, both bands, specially prepared ensembles and the solo performances of our top music students have become standard at some of these events. Much hard work goes into the preparation of the items and we thank the pupils and their teachers for these contributions.
The Fyvie Concert and Cultural Awards Ceremony is, of course, the highlight of this final term. At this event children who have worked consistently are rewarded with an opportunity to display their commitment and talent. The full programme has been included for your perusal. This year we were delighted to welcome Ms Nici Coleman, the head of the Music Department at Alexander Road High School, as our special and most gracious guest.
We would like to thank our parents for encouraging us in our musical endeavours, and Mr Harris and the governing body for their moral and financial support in making the gift of music available to the children of Herbert Hurd.
Now it remains for us to bid farewell to our Grade 7’s who will be moving off to their respective high schools, and to wish them music in their futures. 2018 with all its joys and challenges awaits both those who leave and those who remain. God bless us all. God bless this school.
Please see the Gallery Page for more photos.