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What Music Means to Me and Our School

Student Opinion & Advice Piece by Sophia Richards

Following the success of the concert at the newly renovated Newport Market last week, Sophia has chosen to talk about what music means to her and how important it is to our school.

Why is music important for our wellbeing?

For a long time, music was just there, I didn’t think about it. A good song was a good song, a good singer was a good singer. If a song I liked came on the radio, I’d sing along. It was a kind of background sound. But as I’ve become older, those songs are becoming nostalgic as they remind me of those times. Those songs make me feel happy or sad or any other feeling that I felt when I used to listen to them. I'm sure it’ll stay the same as I grow older - the songs I listen to now will become nostalgic then.

Why listen to music? As I mentioned before, music can make you feel a range of emotions. That’s not just coming from me - neuroscientists have proven that ‘listening to music heightens positive emotion through the reward centres of our brain, stimulating hits of dopamine that can make us feel good’. Basically, music is scientifically proven to make you happy. It is also scientifically proven that music helps you study: people who listen to music whilst they work tend to be in a better mood and produce better work with fewer mistakes. Relaxing music helps students to beat stress and anxiety while studying and during long study sessions, music can aid endurance.

It’s not just listening to music that can have a positive impact on your wellbeing - learning an instrument helps too. It improves your cognitive and muscle memory and helps you improve your perseverance skills. Improving your skills on an instrument takes a lot of time. I can second this personally because at the moment I’m learning guitar. I’m not amazing at it but I’m considerably better than I was at the beginning. It was sitting in the corner gathering dust but one day in Lockdown, I thought ‘why not?’ and started to learn. Everyday, I look forward to coming home from a busy day at school and learning guitar. It’s rewarding to see how far you’ve come from the day you first picked up the instrument.

There are a range of benefits to studying music in school: teamwork - whilst playing musical instruments with others, you develop your listening skills. Also, being part of a choir enables you to meet people who you can share your love of music with and it gives you the chance to help others develop their abilities whilst developing yours in a thriving environment, surrounded by like-minded people. Music education is an outlet for creativity and freedom, allowing you to express yourself. What I really like about music is that it has no language barrier - it can unite people from any background or ethnicity. Music also breaks academic barriers, with it for many students being the one thing they use to truly express themselves and work to their full potential.

Musical opportunities in Bassaleg

I have recently joined the Junior choir, run by Mrs Davies for Years 7 and 8 and it’s a lot of fun. There are currently not many of us but it’s nice being in an environment where everyone is enjoying singing together, it is welcoming and non-judgemental. In previous years, the Junior choir has performed in St. Davids Hall and Symphony Hall as part of the National Festival of Youth. There’s also a Senior choir for pupils from Year 9-13 who have performed at St Davids Hall and the Celtic Manor, and finally, a Chamber choir which is for 6th formers only, which will soon perform in many venues including Llandaff Cathedral and school concerts. All the choirs rehearse weekly.

The school also offers music clubs for instrumentalists: String Orchestra with a range of musicians across the years involved. Secondly, Wind Band, currently the largest ensemble composed of woodwind, brass and percussion players.These groups have won prizes at competitions for their innovative performances and have performed in many of the country’s top concert halls. Finally, Big Band who primarily play jazz and modern style pieces. These groups went on tour to Belgium in 2019.

All choirs and ensembles are non-auditioned.

Bassaleg also puts on musical productions, previous shows include Les Miserables, Grease and Beauty and the Beast. Many members of staff and pupils are encouraged to get involved and it is said that it's certainly a highlight of the school calendar when it’s show time.

So, knowing now that music can boost your wellbeing and help you to enjoy school more, consider attending one of these clubs. If you want to join a group just ask your music teacher for the details and remember to listen to relaxing music while you study!


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