The focus of our cultural programme is on having fun and stimulating imagination in safe and inclusive ways. The growth and development of a child’s body, mind and spirit are vital and we aim to bring out the natural talent inherent in each child. There are performance opportunities in school plays, class assemblies and other class activities and a wide variety of musical opportunities. Our gallery is adorned with artworks produced by different classes and pottery lessons are offered. Drama and ballet sessions extend the creative arts programme and the Edge, which is often "alive with the sound of music", is a magnificent facility to develop the creative potential of our girls.
“Every child is an artist,” said Picasso. At St Mary’s, we believe that each child has expressive capabilities and artistic potential that can be nurtured.
Children are encouraged to notice details of colour, pattern, structure and design in their environment. As they begin to look intently and to use all their senses, they bring richer insights to their art making. They might also use their bodies in movement, listen to stories or translate music and sounds into paintings. Dressing up is a favourite activity and the girls take turns drawing or being the model. A variety of media is used during the year: tempera paint, oil pastels, wax resist, charcoal, papier-mâché, clay, wire, collage or printing.
Children can often be harsh judges of themselves and may resort to the safety of stereotypes, rather than taking the risks involved in looking carefully and solving the problems in their work. There are often happy surprises for children who initially lack confidence, but who are willing to take risks and respond thoughtfully to what they are observing.
Our younger girls do not receive a mark in Art, as we do not want children to categorise themselves negatively. In Grades 6 and 7, the girls are introduced to some art theory and history, which is assessed. They also have a practical assessment at the end of the year.
Art making is an adventure, a process of discovery and creation. It requires problem solving, imagination, co-operation, perseverance and a willingness to go beyond one’s limits to encompass memory and emotion. The rewards are enormous.
From a young age the girls are encouraged to use their bodies and voices creatively and expressively, in both dance and drama, to build confidence and personal expression. Each year, all of the girls from Grades 4 to 7 participate in the school play with the opportunity to dance, sing and perform for a live audience in The Edge. The Junior Primary girls act in a popular musical and the Grade 0s perform in the annual Nativity play.
In the Senior Primary, the girls have a weekly drama lesson and the curriculum is divided into two components – practical and theory. The girls learn about theatre history, key performance techniques and different movement styles, as well as how to work co-operatively. The theory they learn is a base for many of the practical tasks.
We believe that every child should keep a healthy balance between academic work, sport and culturals to be well-rounded and educated. Music is part of our everyday life. The girls sing in assemblies, chapel services and hymn practices and perform at music assemblies and piece playing once a term. Music is linked to many other learning areas – from songs about certain themes to research on musicians and instruments.
The Senior Primary choir
The Senior Primary choir, consisting of girls from Grades 4 to 7, sings at many school events, functions and concerts and takes part in the annual Magic of Music concert at the Linder Auditorium and The Ridge Choir Festival. The girls rehearse once a week and there is an annual weekend camp to learn new material and have fun as a team. The choir consists of more than 80 members. Their songs range from traditional South African folk music to popular songs, rounds and sacred music. The emphasis is on having fun but, at the same time, working hard as a team to achieve goals.
The Singing Angels
The Singing Angels consists of all Grade 2 and 3 girls and they rehearse during school hours. They enjoy learning and singing various songs, ranging from old favourites to children's songs and South African folk songs. They perform at special chapel services, Junior School music concerts, and The Sound of Children with Richard Cock and the Johannesburg Festival Orchestra at the Linder Auditorium. The aim of the Singing Angels is to have fun singing together and, at the same time, learn songs they would otherwise not encounter.
The Junior orchestra
The junior orchestra is involved in performing in school plays, carol services, school music concerts and chapel services. The orchestra features violins, recorders, clarinets, flutes, saxophones, percussion instruments, keyboards and trumpet. In 2014 the orchestra accompanied the chamber choir on a cultural tour to Cape Town, and in 2011 the girls travelled to KwaZulu-Natal. We encourage all instrumentalists in the Senior Primary to play in the junior orchestra.
The chapel band
The Chapel band was started in 2008 to assist our worship in chapel and they accompany our singing during chapel services and assemblies.
Marimba lessons are offered to all girls in the Senior Primary Phase. A marimba band consists of a maximum of 12 players, and they rehearse on a weekly basis. They perform at Junior School music concerts, music assemblies, the Reggio Conference, the Patronal Festival, carol services and any other events where entertainment is required. The marimba bands are led by Kgaogelo Mailula.
St Mary’s Junior School offers private lessons on various instruments. These include piano, violin, cello, flute, recorder, saxophone, clarinet, trumpet, guitar and drums, as well as singing. The school supplies instruments for hire by the term, if necessary. Please contact the Music department for more information.