St Mary Magdalene Academy, Islington joined MiSST in 2015.
There are currently 420 students on the Andrew Lloyd Webber programme learning 6 different instruments.
Despite the challenges presented by Covid-19 restrictions, we had an active year in the SMMA Music Department with plenty of opportunities for live performance and composition. Using mostly technological solutions, we were able to run all of our usual termly concerts to virtual audiences. We were also able to run our A-level recitals, one of which was performed to a real, live and socially-distanced audience. We were able to proceed with these events by either reducing audience numbers or pre-recording performances which we then released online. Our pre-recorded concerts contained two types of recordings. The first of these were multi-camera recordings of performances where all members of the ensemble were playing live and in the same room. These types of recordings were best suited to the parts of the year where pupils were physically attending school but had restrictions about mixing outside their bubble groups or playing to live audiences. The second type of recordings were individual recordings students made of themselves playing along to a backing track which were then compiled and mixed together into one stereo track. These were best suited to the parts of the year where students could not physically attend school. We had three exam classes finishing this year: Year 11 BTEC, Year 11 GCSE and Year 13 A-Level. Although the requirements for certification were reduced by the exam boards all classes managed to complete their coursework with some of the best performances and compositions we’ve seen at SMMA. We are releasing a range of these performances and compositions on our new SMMA Music Department Youtube Channel at the end of this term.
Quote from Head of Department Tristan Ryder
"We see continuing benefits of being part of the MiSST family here at SMMA. It is a privilege to be able to place an instrument into the hands of each and every one of our year 7 students as they begin their education here. We have seen our first MiSST cohort of students graduate this year. We believe that the musical experience these year 11 students gained in their early years here helped to build a cohort of creative and resilient young people. This is evidenced by the quality of work they have produced in music and other subjects and their ability to overcome the unprecedented challenges of the last 2 years. We have seen many of the best performances and compositions this school’s pupils have ever produced this year and we believe that MiSST has been instrumental in this success."
Quote from SMMA student
"I learned violin in primary school with the other people in my class but I didn’t know how to hold the bow properly and I never had a violin to take home until I came to SMMA. By the end of the year I could play semiquavers and more difficult pieces. It made me more interested in classical music and in learning more classical instruments. This year I have also started learning the Saxophone and I’ve joined the school orchestra. Orchestra is fun because I get to experience hearing different instruments sound together. It has also helped me to improve my timing and I’ve even started teaching my brother and sister how to play violin and sax."
Quote from Headteacher Vicky Linsley
"We are delighted to continue our relationship with MiSST here at SMMA. Over the years we have seen over a thousand of our pupils grow and benefit from their participation in the Andrew Lloyd Webber Programme. Music is central to our educational offering here and it is a privilege to be able to offer each and every one of our students a quality instrument which they can hold and take home with them. For some of our pupils it is their first real opportunity to make music and for most it is the first opportunity to play in an ensemble. We have also seen the benefits of MiSST beyond the walls of the music classroom. It has helped our students to be more aspirational and has given them life-shaping experiences. The Radley trips and MiSST Together concerts in particular, have been landmark moments in many of our students lives. Given the wide-reaching impact of the MiSST programme we have seen throughout our school community, we see it as a cornerstone of our mission to create students who are both ‘happy and successful’."