Eaton House Belgravia Prep continues to build on the strong foundations laid by the Pre-Prep, offering an ever-expanding performing arts curriculum and ensuring we provide exciting opportunities for the boys to get involved and develop this area of their learning.
The chance to perform in musical ensembles, plays and competitions throughout the year is further developed with an increasing focus on the wider world of performance and provision.
The famous stage and Hollywood actor Laurence Olivier was an old boy, as was a more recent Academy Award winner whose name we shall not disclose! Needless to say, he is a household name now, but he too once stood in the hall at Eaton House Pre-Prep rehearsing his lines, as pupils do today.
All the boys have drama lessons as part of their curriculum and those with a real passion will also join our popular Drama Club to further develop their acting range and undertake professional exams. Plays take place in purpose-built theatres and are lavishly produced affairs, with marvellous technical effects and proper stage costumes. Boys take the responsibility of acting in plays and learning their lines very seriously. They all want to work as a team to put on the best possible show for their parents and friends.
Weekly class and music assemblies continue and provide the opportunity for all the boys to experience performing in front of an audience, learning how to develop their confidence and poise. We hold regular singing events in the community, from the Royal Marsden Hospital to nursing homes and Christmas charity fairs.
The Prep boys join the older Pre-Prep boys for musical ensemble events. These events are greatly enjoyed by both staff and pupils. Pupils can also compete in Junior and Senior music competitions which take place in March. The judge often gives boys tips on individual performance after the competitions, which helps in their long-term musical development.
The Prep boys currently join the Pre-Prep choirs, auditioning at the beginning of every term, or take advantage of the many opportunities for small or large groups to sing formally and informally together.
The Prep boys bring a maturity and depth to our annual carol service at St Peter's Church, a truly magical moment in the school calendar and a wonderful moment for these boys to shine and lead our younger boys in celebration.
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.
As an idea of the highest standards, a boy of about Grade 5 on his first instrument on entry to the Prep would be a promising candidate for our Leamington Scholarship for musical excellence. Boys with a range of instruments to show, or good singing potential, would be at an advantage. The ability to read and interpret music would also be a key skill.
The boys can also arrange individual private singing lessons to develop their voice and promote confidence. Boys are taken out of lessons on a rotating basis, so that the same lessons are not missed.
There are two choirs, the Senior Choir being the one for the Prep. Boys are auditioned at the beginning of every term and many boys 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 the Senior Music Competitions, which take place in March. The judge often gives boys tips on individual performances.
Last year was a bustling year in the music department and the Eaton House Pre-Prep boys excelled themselves in their musical activities. There were music assemblies, competitions, plays and nativities, Senior Choir trips and a carol concert in our spiritual home, St Peter's. Boys took ABRSM exams and entered outside competitions on their instruments throughout the year.
As usual, a full range of talents was showcased in the Senior Cup Competitions and the boys gave brilliant and talented displays. The two awards both went to pianists.
Music colours are awarded for outstanding music service to the school. Seven boys were awarded these prestigious accolades last year. They contributed greatly to the musical life of the school. This year looks set to be equally exciting!
The leavers' concert is always a highlight, with boys playing to a fantastic, high standard and with some boys playing incredibly hard pieces. This year, we heard from a great variety of performers on the piano, cello, violin, drum kit, guitar and voice. We were also entertained by the Year 3 dancers, the Senior Choir and all of the Year 3s for the grand finale.
Drama lessons enable the boys to develop their creativity, confidence and collaboration within a safe and constructive environment.
When teaching the boys to participate in performance we develop characters through:
- work on the use of voice and facial expressions
- interaction with other characters
The boys are encouraged to use space and grouping, props and different ways to adapt to an audience. The boys learn to develop an understanding of how to act out plots by dramatising the problem, climax and resolution inherent in the dialogue, adding to the overall excitement of the performance.
Creating dramatic effects through music, lighting, sounds, costume, make-up and scenery are all encouraged.
We regularly provide opportunities for rehearsing, polishing and presenting plays for performance. When reflecting on work in progress, as well as evaluating at the end of a rehearsal period, the boys are encouraged to use appropriate technical vocabulary to analyse their work.
Every boy within the school has weekly drama lessons and can join Drama Club if he becomes interested in doing more outside school.
Individual drama lessons are also available and they can be tailored to complement school productions.
To enhance their understanding of drama and to evolve their own skills, we take the boys to live performances and view a range of plays. This enables us to talk about how theatrical effects are achieved, to collect and consider reviews and to analyse professional programme notes and advertisements, relating these to what they have seen.
Previous school productions
Eaton House Schools staff and pupils have worked together on a variety of productions, including Jungle Bells, Bugsy Malone, You Can Call Me Kate, The Demon Headmaster, Lion Rock, The Pied Piper of Hamelin, Oliver, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, andToad of Toad Hall.
Eaton House boys regularly read aloud to an audience and, of course, that reading aloud includes poetry.
Declaiming poetry aloud and engaging in public speaking require many of the same skills – engaging the audience, weighing each word carefully, knowing when to pause and when to raise your voice for emphasis, and how to make the words full of emotion.
Many children enjoy reciting poetry aloud from poets such as Lewis Carroll, Edward Lear, AA Milne, Robert Louis Stevenson, Edgar Guest and Mary Howitt. Poetry is all around us and it is important to teach children to watch out for the rhythms of life, as they can be converted into great poetry.
If boys are introduced to the right poem, it can be magical and can really help in developing imagination and reading development. Poetry is important for introducing us to new words, the construction of language and just the feeling that goes along with reading a poem that tells a powerful story.
Poetry introduces young children to themes and is a good way of accessing a large volume of writing styles and expressions quite quickly, unlike novels. What is also wonderful about poetry for boys is that they love the idea of rhythm and rhyme as it is a very active part of learning.
Poetry, especially spoken poetry, also allows you to experience different emotions – happiness, excitement and even sometimes slightly scary feelings. The ability to 'feel' poetry is something that we work on with the boys and it is an important part of the process.
Poems can be simple or complex, traditional or modern, but it is important to us that Eaton House boys see it as an everyday part of their life, rather than as something special, and they will come to like it. That is the ultimate aim in all our work in this area – to cultivate a love of poetry for life.
Debating is an important part of life at Eaton House Belgravia and we have debating competitions and a debating club for those boys that really want to explore the subject further.
A debate is a structured argument. Two sides speak alternately for and against a particular contention, usually based on a topical issue. Each person is allocated a time they are allowed to speak for and any interjections are carefully controlled.
Differing views are welcomed. What is really important is to rehearse your argument well and to speak in a structured, confident and logical way, with an enthralling introduction and a persuasive conclusion. This is the art of debate and we enjoy teaching it to the boys in Eaton House Belgravia Prep.