Conducting a community

Debbie Matthews, Director of Music at Prior Park Prep School, took on the role of Musical Director for the North Wiltshire Music Festival this March. 

The performance, held at the Oasis Leisure Centre on Thursday 30 March, gave around 450 local primary school children from 11 local schools the chance to perform for over 1000 parents and teachers.

This year’s theme was ‘A Night at the Oscars’ and to prepare, children from North Wiltshire area schools learnt a wide range of songs from Oscar ceremonies past and present during the spring term, including tracks from Disney and James Bond films. They were challenged to sing in parts – and in French! 

On the night the children had the opportunity to sing with a live band and professional light show and were entertained and inspired by the Royal Wootton Bassett Academy Swing Band and the Great Western Youth Band and Percussion Ensemble.

The evening was a great success. Debbie said:

I was so impressed by the children’s commitment …they rose to the challenge and sang their hearts out

Director of Music at Prior Park Prep School, Debbie Matthews

Director of Music at Prior Park Prep School, Debbie Matthews was keen to continue to work with local head teachers and music co-ordinators at the event – heading towards its tenth year – and to extend this kind of opportunity and the benefits it offers to large numbers of local pupils. Debbie said:

At Prior Park Preparatory school we believe in ‘music for all’ and this event is an opportunity for every pupil in all the participating schools to be part of a high quality and inspiring musical event. The numbers involved and the quality of the performance really demonstrate that we are stronger when we work together.

Director of Music at Prior Park Prep School, Debbie Matthews

Prior Park Prep School, near Swindon, has been increasingly widening its reach into the wider community. Another example is the achievement of its RFU accreditation in rugby where it shares its multi acre site with Cricklade Rugby Club and other local schools. In the future it is also hoped that a similar cricket initiative will be put into place. Headmaster Mr Mark Pearce said:

For those of us with a mandate to serve our community and a role to educate for life, we have a responsibility to reach out as wide as possible into the community so more children benefit from what we have here. Debbie has showcased a fine example of what can be achieved and the NWMF gives large numbers of local children a great opportunity to develop their love and understanding of music – as well as a day to remember!

Director of Music at Prior Park Prep School, Debbie Matthews

Prior Park Prep School are also very proud of the high number of Year 8 pupils who go onto achieve a major scholarship to their chosen senior school. Scholarships include academic, art, drama, sport, music and all-rounder. More information can be found at scholarships.

The North Wiltshire Music Festival in its ninth year is organised by Helen Fudge at St Mary’s School, Purton with support from the Swindon Music Co-Operative and Wiltshire Music Connect using public funding from Arts Council England. Its main objective is to give all KS1 and KS2 children in participating schools the opportunity to sing on a big stage and to develop their vocal skills.  nvolvement of local secondary school age groups encourages and inspires more children to take up a musical instrument.

Information on the Swindon Music Co-operative can be found at: Swindon Music Co-operative

Information on Wiltshire Music Connect can be found at: Wiltshire Music Connect