Hello and welcome to Music at St Peter’s Catholic Academy! My name is Mr Balzarano and I am the music teacher here at our school.
Music is a universal language, and I believe it embodies one of the highest forms of creativity. I have always been passionate about music, and fortunate to have been given many opportunities to excel in the subject thanks to creative and inspiring music educators teaching me during my school years. I have always harboured a want to ‘pay it forward’ and provide the same musical encouragement and enjoyment to children that I received at their age. I have had a long career in piano and electronic keyboard performance in addition to my teaching. I have worked with professional touring bands as a keyboardist in my native Australia, and have received many accolades that include passing the Australian Guild of Music Professional Performance examination with high distinction; gaining a Diploma in Music (Hons) from the Australian International Conservatorium of Music; being a four-time state champion and a national representative in electronic organ competitions run by Yamaha Music; and completing both my Masters Degree and Doctorate (PhD) in Music at Keele University here in Staffordshire.
What does a music lesson look like at St Peters?
The music education at our school engages and inspires pupils to develop their talent as musicians and a love for the art, helping to increase their self-confidence, creativity and sense of achievement. As pupils progress with their learning from Nursery to Year 6 they develop a critical engagement with music, listening and appraising a comprehensive range of diverse musical styles whilst allowing each child to perform, improvise and compose their own pieces of music. If you were to observe a music lesson here at St Peter’s you would enjoy an integrated, practical, exploratory, and child-led approach to the musical learning being undertaken. All of this in an open, innovative, and fun atmosphere!
Our Music curriculum ensures that all our pupils:
- Perform, listen to, review and evaluate music across a range of historical periods, genres, styles and traditions, including the works of the great composers and musicians
- Learn to sing and to use their voices, to improvise, create, and compose music on their own and with others, have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument, use technology appropriately and have the opportunity to progress to the next level of musical excellence
- Understand and explore how music is created, produced and communicated, including through the inter-related dimensions: pitch, duration, dynamics, tempo, timbre, texture, structure and appropriate musical notations.
In addition to their weekly curriculum lessons, opportunities to learn a musical instrument as a whole class and small ensemble group are offered in our school. Year 4 have enjoyed learning the violin as part of their weekly music studies in the past, culminating with a live performance with the acclaimed Halle Symphony Orchestra at the Victoria Hall.
More recently they have had the opportunity to learn the increasingly popular ukulele as part of their lessons, requiring them to learn how to not just strum chords but sing along at the same time! A challenge I can already see they enjoy and will excel at. Enjoy a snippet of them below getting into the festive Christmas spirit with an inspired performance of “Santa Went To Sea”
Year 5 are also given the very exciting opportunity to learn Mr Balzarano’s primary instrument – the electronic keyboard. As a weekly “keyboard workshop”, children learn about the electronic keyboard, how to read and play music using both hands (as a solo performer and with an ensemble group), how to play along to electronic drum programming, and how to select different sounds to create and play different styles of music.
In addition to these whole class instrumental lessons, a few children enjoy private piano tuition once a week. They learn the fundamentals of piano performance, and consolidate much of their curriculum learning such as music theory, aural and sight reading skills.
Each year the school is involved in both small and large scale musical events allowing the children the experience of performing live. These include Christmas and summer concerts held every year in our school auditorium for families to enjoy, the Young Voices choir spectacular in Birmingham, choir collaborations with Music Share and Lichfield Cathedral School alongside sister schools within the collegiate, and performances within the local community such as singing at Camoys Court Nursing Home and Tesco Hanley Christmas carolling. External music specialists also visit our school to provide a range of interactive workshops, offering the children experiences within a broader catalogue of musical styles.
What the children say:
“I have enjoyed music this year and my favourite part is the singing. We share what we have composed in class by performing and putting it up on the music wall”. Andre
“I enjoy music lessons because we sing different songs and learn to play the glockenspiel and we discuss the music we listen to and what we like about it”. Dawood
“I have really enjoyed learning about Jazz and listening and appraising different styles of Jazz songs. I enjoy when we do a group singing performance”. Amirah
Music Star of the Year
Every year, one student of St Peter’s is chosen as the ‘Music Star of the Year’. They receive a special certificate and their name is forever engraved on a perpetual shield which has pride of place in the school hall. Recipients of this award demonstrate a genuine love and passion for music, excelling in every aspect of the curriculum from listening and appraising, composition, improvisation and performance.
The Music Star of the Year for 2021 is Violet Adams