Bedford School's director of music wants more focus on arts

The director of music wants children to have variety in their education

By Holly Patel
Wednesday, 19th August 2020, 12:41 pm
Updated Wednesday, 19th August 2020, 12:44 pm

Over the past few years there has been an emphasis on science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects, but the director of music at Bedford School wants there to be more focus on arts as well.

Jonathan Sanders, director of music at Bedford School, explains why focusing solely on maths and science just does not add up and explains why the arts have to be part of the equation.

Schools all over the country have been ploughing resources into science, technology, engineering and maths in the belief that these subjects play a key role in the sustained growth and stability of the world economy.

Jonathan Sanders

There is no doubt that those who excel in these subjects are part of the next generation of innovators. But they also need another skill to truly make any difference in the world – and that is the ability to think creatively.

Mr Sanders said: "It is for this very reason that the STEM crusade that has dominated educational dialogue has been replaced by the STEAM movement which adds the arts into the mix.

"Humans have been creative since the dawn of their existence; we have made tools in order to solve problems and to adapt to our surroundings.

"This unique ability to utilise the resources we have found around us, and to make new things is what arguably makes us human.

"Throughout history there have been examples of individuals who have made startling discoveries through thinking creatively, none more so than Leonardo da Vinci at the end of the fifteenth century.

"Leonardo embodies the ideal of the ‘Renaissance man’ (or should we say human) who is equally well versed in the sciences and the arts. He was equally gifted as a scientific innovator and as an artist – his skills in both areas fed into the other.

"His studies of biology and civil engineering, astronomy and human anatomy can be seen expressed beautifully in paintings such as the Mona Lisa, drawings like the Vitruvian Man and

manuscripts which explore flying machines, hydraulic engineering and the flight of birds."

The director of music wants there to be more focus on children studying arts at school, as well as the STEM subjects.

He added: "I believe that it is because through a study of the arts children learn how to be creative, to solve problems and to find solutions. This skill is universally applicable.

"Whether we focus on music, art or drama, each is a force that stirs emotions, uncages creativity and educates students on freedom of expression – and that’s something Bedford School has always embraced.

"This is why I aim for my Music Department to create an outstanding, vibrant and diverse musical experience for all boys at every level in the school.

"We have a music fellowship programme which means boys get the opportunity to work with some of the UK’s finest musicians on multiple occasions throughout the school year.

"Earlier this year, this involved a visit from flautist and composer Ian Clarke who worked with GCSE Music students on their composing and with woodwind students across every year group in the Upper School. Those boys may go on to develop careers in music themselves.

"But if they want to pursue a job in maths, science, engineering, technology or any other subject for that matter, so be it.

"What they learned through music will still be of use to them, because Music (and Art and Drama) contains the uniquely transferrable skill of creativity, and as such is a core part of our educational offer at Bedford School.

"The current coronavirus pandemic has shown us that it is the individuals who are willing and prepared to adapt who tend to thrive.

"Adaptability and creativity go in hand in hand – you need both to develop in the fast-paced and changing world in which we live. We recognise that creative thinking and visual learning benefits everyone in the classroom.

"And it is my belief – shared by the rest of the teaching staff at Bedford School - that lesson plans should focus on the importance of hands-on learning encouraging research, close observation, critical analysis and creative adaptability – something that both artists and scientists share in common.

"Young people need variety in their education – a broad and balanced curriculum, with music, art and drama given proper space in the timetable."