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Music tutor on mission to teach Hampstead’s primary schoolchildren classical music

Music teacher Marion Musry has developed a new method of teaching music in schools which places an emphasis on classical music. Picture: Nigel Sutton Music teacher Marion Musry has developed a new method of teaching music in schools which places an emphasis on classical music. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Sunday, June 8, 2014
1:00 PM

Primary schoolchildren are to learn as much about classical music as students studying for their A-levels through an innovative teaching method.

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Two Hampstead primary schools have already trailled the holistic SymbolSmash method, which teaches children about the many different aspects of a piece of classical music through a fairytale story.

The method is the brainchild of private music tutor Marion Musry, who has launched a downloadable version of her teacher packs – showing teachers how they can implement the method in their school – for the first time.

The 48-year-old former music teacher, of St John’s Wood, said: “Music as a subject is as important as English or maths. It’s incredible it’s not taught as the most important subject.

“I use big pieces of music of an A-level standard of learning and break it down so they can understand it as a story. They get the whole picture.

The mother-of-three continued: “They’re learning to read, there’s counting the beats, and for history they’re learning about the composer as well. They learn in the same way as they would learn in A-level music lessons, because they learn all about the concept of the piece, they learn about repetition and they learn words such as sonata and ostanato without even realising it.”

North Bridge House Junior School, in Netherhall Gardens, Hampstead, and The Phoenix School, in College Crescent, Hampstead, have both trialled the method and, along with University College School’s junior branch, have signed up for teacher packs for the start of the next academic year in September.

Camden Council has also shown interest in rolling out the method in primary schools across the borough.

The first downloadable SymbolSmash pack, for children aged between two and 10, teaches pupils about the different musical symbols, notes and instruments in composer Jacques 
Offenbach’s opera Voyage to the Moon through a story about a prince and princess.

“I want children in every state school and every school to have access to learning about classical music,” former music teacher Mrs Musry said. “That’s my mission.

“It’s a great social thing for children. London is so multicultural so for many pupils English is their second language, but music is one language and something they can have confidence in.”

n To sign up for a teacher pack, visit symbolsmash.com. A tablet app version of the packs is also available through the website.

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