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New in Nuthurst

In the current Proms prospectus, Ivan Fischer is quoted as saying that he believes the crucial age to introduce children to classical music is between ages 5-10, because whatever happens after that, they will retain something of it. I too am glad to see primary schools fitting in any kind of music between all the Accelerated Reading, Multiplication Tables Checks and every other thing that needs to happen in school hours.

So it was a considerable inspiration to visit St Andrew's Primary School in Nuthurst in Sussex, where every teacher seems to possess musical skills, and to be happy to pass them on to their class (while teaching all the other subjects as well, of course). Although it's a small school, each year group, if I've got this right, creates and produces their own musical; I was treated to some zappy numbers about Queen Boudicca. Later I heard work based on both reggae and rap, which came across as useful ways to investigate pulse, rhythm and metre. Hearing a quick snippet of Bob Marley reminded me that reggae is itself now an old-established "classical" style; these children will have been born over 30 years after his death. And the first time I personally heard any rap was in a London school in the mid-1980s.

Singing takes pride of place in this school; unsurprisingly, since soprano Elin Manahan Thomas, no less, is currently a staff member. Many thanks to her, her Nuthurst colleagues and their friendly classes, for a most enjoyable day.





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