Since the start of the school year, Monkey has been learning to play the ukulele. His school decided a few years ago that Year 3 would learn an instrument and chose a ukulele because they are small and easier to handle. We had to buy a ukulele for him but luckily, the school managed to buy a job lot of them from another school and it cost us £5.
|Photo credit: wjunior|
For the first term, Monkey would randomly practice upstairs and we could hear nothing but random strumming. Just before Christmas, we went to an assembly to hear them play and they weren't bad but obviously still learning. The teacher they get in to teach them is great with them; she sings and plays along with them and they obviously all have a ball doing it.
Then, a few weeks ago, Monkey started mentioning something about playing in a concert at a festival but the details were unclear. Just before half term, school sent home some details and asked for permission for the children to take part. Unfortunately, it was on a Thursday evening when the children have everything on. The only way I could manage it was for my husband to go into work late, taking Monkey to swimming and onto the venue, leaving him there with another parent until I arrived with Missy Woo after picking her up from dancing.
On the day, it became apparent that Monkey was getting a little nervous, but I told him to try his best and smile! The children were all raring to go but had to wait sometime as there were other classes first. When their class came around, they were the last of 3 groups to come onto the stage. Having sat through two other groups which were brass bands, they were certainly different.. It was obvious they were enjoying themselves and I thought how much they had progressed since I had last heard them play. They did three songs, and the class were ably abetted by a few children from older classes doing percussion and one sang a solo. When they finished, they got rapturous applause and I remember thinking they had a chance of winning. They were quite clearly the youngest group in terms of average age out of the 3 groups competing.
The adjudicator stood up after their performance to give her comments to all 3 groups. She was brilliant with the children and had some really constructive feedback for them all. Then it was results time. Third was one of the brass bands so we were at least second. They had a chance and I remember thinking that at least they hadn't come last.
Then she announced the second place went to.... the other brass band. I could see the children from where I sat as the realisation dawned on them. They'd won! I will admit, I was nearly crying as I turned to Missy Woo and said "They've won, they've won!" as she hadn't realised. When the adjudicator finally announced the school's name as the winners, a big cheer went up. Looking at Monkey, I'm not sure he wasn't crying too but I could see he was bursting with pride. The adjudicator handed over the trophy and a certificate. Then we all had to settle down again for the final class, the secondary ensemble, which was won by a guitar group run by the same teacher who teaches the ukulele to Monkey's class!
At the end, the children were all very excited and happy, but they'd been so well-behaved considering it was getting late, past 9pm. After sharing fish and chips at home before ringing Daddy and grandparents, two tired children finally got them to bed. Monkey had a bit of a reaction the next day as he developed a tummy ache and I had to pick him up from school early.
Then came news that the local paper was coming in. Not only to photograph them, but video them playing a song. They all had to wear uniform in the morning to school (it was non-uniform day) although they were allowed to change afterwards. Monkey reported afterwards that it went OK and I knew from school assembly that it was due to be in the paper on the Saturday.
On Sunday, (late in the way only local papers can) the video finally appeared. I was sat in the café at the gym when I saw it and watched the video, once again nearly in tears. Monkey is right there at the front, although this does seem to show up how much he is looking around and not actually playing. I'm sure he wasn't like that for the concert. Now, I'd love to share the video, but since I don't publicly name the children's school on this blog or on Twitter, I can't because the school name is all over it. However, if you ask me nicely, I'll share it with you.
And then today, there they were in the paper - on page 3, and a big write up too and a big colour photo.
The school the children go to is relatively small nor is it particularly well known. That's not to say it's a bad school - far from it, the children love school, are doing well and get lots of opportunities to do things outside of school. It's the first time since the headteacher joined the school that they have actually won something. Winning something like this gives the chance for the children to see themselves in a different way as well as others to see the school in a different light. On top of that, it is a fabulous achievement on only a term and a half of lessons - so not only did the children do a fantastic job, their teacher did too!
I will stop banging on about my children's achievements now. Normal service is about to resume...