Music and Dance
Two periods are allocated to Performing Arts in which pupils are required to choose two subjects, a first-option and a second-option, from a choice of three:
2 Singing Bhajans
3 Dance (kathak, raas, garba etc.)
Due to the limited time available during the school day, it is a departmental policy to encourage pupils to purchase their own instruments in order that they may be able to practice at least their first-option subjects in their own time.
Despite the young age of the school the Performing Arts Department has already proved to be one of the major areas of the school curriculum, having been shortlisted as finalists at the National Festival of Music for Youth for four consecutive years. Furthermore, our pupils have performed at various venues including the ‘Victoria and Albert museum’. Brent Town Hall, Harrow Art Centre including community Festivals such as Under One Sky, and Music Talent Search etc.
In addition to the three full-time Performing Arts staff, pupils are regularly exposed to other forms of music and dance by arranging in-school workshops and demonstrations. Among the numerous such visiting artistes have included Sujata Banerjee, Vena Gheerawo, Jayendra Kalyani and lastly, but probably one that had the greatest impact on the pupils the influential tabla maestro Pandit Sharda Sahai, Tabla workshop by Pandit Suresh Gaitonde (2005), Pandit Sharad Sathe vocal workshop (2008), Vocal workshop and recital by a famous Indian female artist Smt. Kankana Banerjee and Pundit Ganesh Mohan (Sitar).
Much of the ground-breaking and unprecedented work that has been accomplished to date, will be consolidated, not only by reinforcing what has been achieved so far by the students and teachers, but also by encouraging an active involvement by the parent body.
In short, it is the department’s duty to provide the student’s of the school and indeed the Gujarati community itself, to which most of the student body belongs, the much needed exposure and appreciation of the rich and diverse musical and cultural heritage of the sub-continent of India.
We have always said that in addition to academic studies, children need to have other interests and hobbies that they enjoy. Learning to play an instrument can be one such enjoyable and rewarding activity. Furthermore, current research has suggested that it also develops the brain. Therefore, we encourage pupils to learn to play a musical instrument. At present, the following instrumental lessons are on offer: Piano, Drums, Flute, Sitar Harmonium and Guitar.
From February 2003 The Swaminarayan School has become an affiliated centre for ABGMVM, Bombay, to conduct music exams in all the disciplines. Students can also do diploma and degree course in Indian music. The Swaminarayan School is the only school in the country that has a record of achievements in Tablas. Two of the pupils have gained their Diploma in Tabla even before they have finished their ‘A’ levels, in 2006.
In the Year 2011, two of the candidates have achieved excellent results in music examinations. Shyam Mehta of Year 11 and Rikhil Raithatha Y 13 have completed their diploma in tabla and Hena Mistry (11years old) of Year 6R has achieved 98% marks in her grade -1 tabla examination.
There are numbers of students who are really a great asset to the school who have been contributing to the department from participating, composing and accompanying in all major festivals and events of the school.
Children have been exposed to varieties of musical activities and participation such as to play dhol, octopad and other drum instruments with fusion music. Apart from classical singing of Khayaal dhrupad & Dhamaar, Bhajans and regional folk songs, Easter and Christmas songs are also taught to the children. Variety of dances including pure classical Kathak, Thumri, Garba dance and other Indian regional dances of India are in regularly performed in the school. Recently lunchtime Kathak classes for beginners from Y1 & Y2 have been introduced to give extra help in dance to the younger children.
Besides the School’s academic studies, talented pupils have also performed for charity concerts and communities such as Age Concern, Kamla Mehta School for Blind girls, Dadar, India. These concerts were organised by Mr Jatin Oza, Head of Performing Arts at Harrow Arts Centre, Winston Churchill Hall (Ruislip), Broadway Theatre (Barking), Arts Depot (Finchley), Peepul Centre (Leicester), Chrysallis Hall (Milton Keynes) etc.
Jeel Pandya, Chandni Shah & Roshni Shah has performed Kathak dance for many community events including Diwali Festival event at the Trafalgar Square arranged by the ex-Mayor Ken Livingstone, Barclay Head Quarters etc.