I’m fast approaching the end of my first year as Head of Wind and Brass at Shrewsbury International School, Bangkok and what a fabulous year it’s been! Even though my life as a London musician was extremely rewarding, the opportunity to work in one of South East Asia’s top schools and to discover more about the cultural life of Thailand was too appealing. So here I am, living in Bangkok, just a few metres away from the school.
Part of my role at the school is to be evangelical about all things wind and brass, so I was thrilled I inherited from Rachel, my predecessor, the chance to teach wind and brass instruments to two complete year groups – Years 5 & 6. Affectionately know as ‘Band Class’, I was responsible, with support from David Bruce Place (Director of Music and trumpeter) and Debbie Tulloch (Head of Primary Music and flautist) for teaching 10 classes of 25 children per class.
The children shared a set of instruments and learned the basics through whole-class teaching. An exciting challenge, of course, but even more so when we realised sharing instruments during a pandemic was not such a great idea. We needed a Plan B. It occurred to me all children love movies and they really engage with film music so why not create our own film and write our own music? Not too difficult with one class but across 10 classes and two year groups? Time for a deep breath…
To start the ball rolling we needed inspiration. This came from the composer Hans Zimmer (Madagascar, The Lion King, Kung Fu Panda) and his composition for BBC Ten Pieces ‘Earth’ – a beautiful piece of music celebrating our incredible planet.
We named our movie ‘Our Planet’, a reflection of the world seen though the eyes of students in both year groups. The children chose images and film clips representing the world we live in such as nature, humans, weather and pollution.
We formed a ‘film production company’ and everyone had a role to play – the teachers were Executive Producers and the children formed their own ‘film units’ consisting of Film Director, Music Director, Director of Photography and Script Writer. Each group was responsible for creating a 1’ movie and composing the soundtrack using Garageband, live instruments and sound effects, just as Hans Zimmer does for the soundtracks he composes.
The film came first and, once each group had completed their film clip, we set about composing the music. The final compositions were then put together to create two films approximately 35’ in length, all original work by the students. It was a great opportunity for children to work in small teams, with important responsibilities, aiming towards specific deadlines.
The two films shown here are the final results of just over two terms of hard work by the children. Please enjoy these films and a round of applause to the children for a wonderful achievement.