One of my Music and Spanish Dance Performance Tour took thirty Y 7 to Y12 students to London in February 2006. Previous tours had been to New York in 2004 and to Washington and New York in 2005.

On the Citizenship agenda students have:

  • Acquired knowledge about institutions which have a world-wide influence
  • Developed an understanding of international diplomacy
  • Witnessed how Spanish culture is highly valued outside Spain
  • Established relationships with their contemporaries around the world

On the Every Child Matters agenda students have learnt the importance of their contribution to:

  • Be healthy
  • Stay safe
  • Enjoy and achieve
  • Make a positive contribution


Citizens of the World: a world of music

In Washington the group performed a lunch hour concert for International Monetary Fund and World Bank workers and their children. The students were given a fascinating talk about the activities of these two organisations with world wide influence. In London, thanks to an invitation from Lord Kinnock, Chair of the British Council, the students were given a guided tour of the Houses of Parliament.

In New York the group performed at the Spanish government’s Instituto Cervantes, and in Washington His Excellency the Spanish Ambassador to the United States held a reception for the group.

The first New York performances were at the United Nations International School’s sites in Manhattan and in Queens and at Riverside Church as well as at the Instituto Cervantes. The second visit to New York included a concert at Midtown West Public School in Manhattan and return visits to the UNIS. In Washington performances were given at the British School of Washington and Washington International School as well as the IMF/World Bank concert. In London the group took part in a concert at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, spent a day and performed at Morpeth School in Tower Hamlets and gave a concert for  the Staff Association of the Institute of Education.

At all these occasions in different formats, with audiences from small children to senior citizens, the reaction to the Spanish music and dance has struck our students. Programming goes against their own preferences for Britney Spears and Robbie Williams. They are surprised at the depth of interest abroad in counterpoint from Spain’s Golden Age and  in Garcia Lorca’s folk songs and at the appreciation of their made to measure costumes.

From expatriate Brits and globetrotter teenagers in Washington and confident native New Yorkers to East End Londoners, our students have met and engaged with a multitude of young people. Their interests and concerns are shared. They are citizens of the world.

Every Child Matters: music and dance performance as a personal challenge

On a performance tour staying healthy is essential not just to make the most of the trip but also to be able to play one’s part in concerts. Eating strange food, keeping unusual hours and sleeping in spite of the excitement of being with friends: all of these things are part of each individual’s responsibility.

“Child Abduction: Yellow Alert” read the traffic sign on the route into Manhattan from JFK airport. Enough to frighten the most serene tour leader, but it helped the students to confront the seriousness of the threats around them and the part each one has to play in being safe.

This teacher will never forget the moment when our host at the UNIS finished his introduction and our first ever overseas concert had to begin. As is our custom our students perform without a conductor. There is no hand holding: personal responsibility is at its extreme. After months of planning, thousands of pounds in expenses and a journey of thousands of miles, is the group up to the task? Every performer has to make their own positive contribution. The enjoyment is so intense because the sense of achievement is genuine. The personal challenge is been met, each student to the limit of their possibilities.

Developing relationships

In May 2006 Morpeth School pupils will visit Madrid. Half an hour after meeting in London pupils from each school were swapping Messenger details and within days they began to link up with potential host families. These are indeed citizens of the world who are up to face the greatest personal and musical challenges.

Year 11 students María  and Natalia  write:

“We have danced on all three trips. We have learnt to be careful and responsible for our safety as we have been in strange places without our parents. We have made friends each time with teenagers of many nationalities and from different social backgrounds.”