Music and Performing Arts
“Drama is life with the dull bits cut out” Alfred Hitchcock
Battle Abbey School is proud of its reputation in performing arts. In our school the creative subjects are valued and encouraged and as a result are extremely popular. All students in Key Stage 3 take Drama and Music and in Key Stage 4 the options are increased to include Dance as a GCSE subject. In addition, students who enjoy Drama but do not want to study for an exam can continue to take Drama as an enrichment option. A Level Drama offers opportunities to study texts, practitioners and live performances. Students can learn more about careers in acting and technical stage crafts and how to assess and develop their skills. We are proud of the fact that many of our students succeed in gaining places at drama schools straight from school and that many of our students have achieved the highest possible marks for their practical work. External moderators have commented that the work they have seen would not have been out of place in the professional theatre. Extra-curricular activities abound and the studio echoes with the sound of laughter and the hush of focused work long after most of the school have left. Any student whether they study drama or not is welcome to join the drama clubs or take part in a production. In addition to the weekly drama, dance and technical clubs, students can take part in the senior musical, the senior play or the junior production which are cast through open auditions. Frequently, we find scientists or sportsmen in lead roles and perhaps it is significant that nearly all our Oxbridge students have been involved in productions: Max Maher in ‘The Sea’, John Snape in ‘Oklahoma’, Lily Lindon in ‘Merrily We Roll Along’ and Dani Edmunds in ‘A Servant to Two Masters’. The potential for the performing arts to encourage creative, lateral thinking; presentation skills and team focused team work is recognised by universities and industry. Dance clubs and ballet classes for junior and senior students culminate in impressive Dance shows twice a year which show case a wide range of styles and an extraordinary level of achievement.
The technical team which is open to all years, meet once a week, led by sixth form students. They provide the technical support and design and front of house for all performances and often support other activities in the school. We like to challenge ourselves: ‘The Crucible’ in one term, performed in different locations; Sondheim musicals; promenade performances and Theatre in Education productions taken to other schools.
We are fortunate to have a well -equipped, purpose built drama studio which is very flexible and can be expanded to accommodate a larger audience for big productions. We are also blessed with the most exciting locations: We have performed outside, in the Abbot’s Hall, in the dining hall and a particularly creepy devised piece based on The Judge’s House by Bram Stoker was enhanced by its location, the library.
We work very hard to achieve an exceptional standard for a school but we also thoroughly enjoy ourselves. I don’t think that there is ever a dull moment!
“Take a music bath once or twice a week and you will discover it is to the soul what the water bath is to the body.” Oliver Wendell Holmes
At Battle Abbey, music takes a high profile in the life of the school and constantly offers all pupils the chance to bathe in its waters. As well as offering music at GCSE and A level, individual tuition can be taken in all the main orchestral instruments, piano, guitar, drums and singing. There are many opportunities to sing with the main school choir, which currently has 65 members, the Junior Choir, (for KS3 pupils) and the Ladies Choir. There is also a Chamber Choir which comprises the best 16 or so singers in the school and it has performed in such prestigious venues as Canterbury, Wells and Salzburg Cathedrals. Membership is by invitation.
There is a small orchestra which rehearses for half an hour a week and there are three main concerts during the school year which take place at the end of each term and in which the choirs and individual soloists can perform for parents, friends and distinguished guests.
For the more advanced students there are music scholarships available and there is an additional Scholars Concert where these students can exhibit their musical skills. The students who take the subject at GCSE and A level are required to compose pieces for their coursework and these are sometimes showcased in one of the concerts.