Eaton House Belgravia Pre-Prep is alive with different performing arts, and the opportunities to get involved and to have a moment to shine are there for every single boy.
Boys get the chance to experience performing in many musical ensembles, plays and competitions throughout the year. We want the boys to experience the magical and transformative power of the performing arts, whether that means making music together in a concert or acting in a play and hearing the audience laugh and cheer.
Music is a vital part of school life, from carolling at Christmas in the Elizabeth Street Christmas market to winning House music colours for outstanding contributions to musical life.
Weekly class and music assemblies encourage the boys to perform in front of an audience, and we hold regular singing events in the community, from the Royal Marsden Hospital to nursing homes and Christmas charity fairs.
There are a number of musical ensemble events each year and these events are greatly enjoyed by both staff and pupils. The majority of our pupils play one or more musical instruments.
We are lucky to have a very fine staff of peripatetic music teachers who can work with pupils to introduce them to an instrument for the first time or to develop skills already mastered. A whole range of instruments can be played, from piano, drums and trumpet to violin and guitar and our pupils achieve high grade levels in most instruments.
The boys can also arrange individual private singing lessons to develop their voice and promote confidence. They are taken out of lessons on a rotating basis, so that the same lessons are not missed.
There are two choirs: Junior (Year 2) and Senior (Year 3). Boys are auditioned at the beginning of every term and many of them sign up for this enjoyable activity. For those boys who do not want the commitment of choir, there are many opportunities for small or large groups to sing formally and informally together.
The pupils can compete in Junior and Senior music competitions, which usually take place in March. The judge often gives boys tips on individual performances. As usual, a full range of talents was showcased in the Junior and Senior Cup competitions, and the boys gave brilliant and talented displays. Both were awarded to pianists.
The Music department and the Eaton House Pre-Prep boys excel themselves in their musical activities.
The Annual Music Competition was, as usual, a big ticket event. All of the boys that took part did an incredible job. These events require the boys to undertake a great deal of practice and master good musical skills and fluency and many boys undertake private music tuition at school to further amplify their performances!
On the penultimate school day, Year 3 perform in a traditional concert. It is a wonderful farewell recital of song, poetry, dance and instrumental solos to say goodbye to Eaton House Belgravia Pre-Prep. The boys perform a diverse variety of music and demonstrate their performing prowess. The concert is normally followed by a picnic in Battersea Park with refreshments provided by the parents.
Drama is very important at Eaton House Belgravia Pre-Prep, with the boys ‘treading the boards’ for fun, for excitement, and as a nice break from work.
Learning to act a part, memorising speeches, working as a team and adopting and inhabiting different characters are all part of preparing for a play or musical. They are important challenges because they make the boys more confident, more at ease with themselves, and more able to speak in public. These are all wonderful qualities to possess for life.
For those who aspire to take acting a little more seriously, it is in our school heritage. Laurence Olivier, the iconic actor and president of the National Theatre, was an old boy. Recently another Pre-Prep old boy has found fame in Hollywood, earning an Academy Award, amongst many others. He is a household name, but we will preserve his privacy here and you can have fun guessing who he might be!
Pupils love performing in all the productions that we stage, because they are of an exceptionally high standard, complete with lavish professional costumes, production, sound, lighting and technical effects.
Last year, the Year 3 play was What a Knight!, which was thoroughly enjoyed by all the parents who came to watch it. One boy wrote a wonderful description of what it was like to act in it.
The last time I’d been in a play was in KG as a shepherd. Merlin in What a Knight! was a bit of a change for me! My favourite part was the scene between Merlin and Watt Cobblers – it was a wonderful feeling to get the audience laughing and clapping.
For the play to come together like this, we had to work really hard as a team and on our own. It was crucial to get our lines absolutely right as if you didn’t say the right line then the next person didn’t know what to say and the play would get rather muddled. It was our responsibility to learn our words at home and the teachers then helped us to bring the words to life with how to say them, the actions needed and where to stand.
During rehearsals this didn’t always happen but that’s why you practise! It felt strange going from wearing normal clothes to wearing a costume. I had a beard that was too tickly so we got rid of it and my magician’s hat kept falling off, so each time I went on stage I pulled it tight.
I think everybody should have a chance to act. It gives you confidence and, most importantly, you have to work as a team. I will always remember the feeling of pride when all the parents clapped at the end. Most importantly, I was with all of my friends and everybody felt happy at the same time.
There are other productions during the year too, usually within year groups. In addition, the annual Nativity play is always a highlight of the school calendar. Last Christmas, Belgravia Nursery and Kindergarten performed their Christmas Nativity, A King is Born. The narrators led us through an enchanting story of the first Christmas, and there were many laughs as bossy Caesar and his census-takers, the angels, the shepherds and the kings took us all on their journey as they followed the star to the stable.
Drama lessons at school are complemented by well-established and popular Drama Club. There, boys can learn vocal and acting techniques, improve their performance on stage and simply enjoy themselves!