A teacher at our school whose students received a raft of top exam results puts it down to their thirst to know more.
Nineteen of Dr Julie Garner’s 22 Music students received above 85% in their exams, the equivalent of an ‘A’ or ‘A*’ grade. In addition, Caleb Miles Probine placed Top in the World in IGCSE Music and Sylvia Brewer received the AS High Achievement award for the top mark in New Zealand.
“All the students asked questions out of curiosity and inquisitiveness,” explained Dr Julie Garner, our Performing Arts Curriculum Coordinator and Head of the ‘wonderfully noisy’ Music Department.
“We could engage with topics at a much deeper level than if they had just wanted to know enough to do well in an exam. As a result, the highest marks were higher than they have ever been before.”
Many of Dr Garner’s students had performed with school ensembles since Year 7, developing a love of the subject and an aspirational attitude along the way. As classes grow smaller in the senior years, relationships become closer knit.
“Music as a subject in the senior years has only a small intake, which means that we are able to work intensively together and focus on strengthening any weaknesses. And small classes builds strong relationships, which is a key ingredient for good learning.”
Despite having all the right ingredients for a bumper year, Dr Garner says her mouth still hit the floor when the results were announced. “I was enormously proud of what they had achieved by the end of year. But nobody can ever be certain of the final results,” she explained.
As for this year, there’s already a lot on the cards, from Open Mic Nights to a Performing Arts Showcase, from The Big Sing to the Chamber Music NZ Secondary Schools Competition. “It is a wonderfully noisy department with people practicing and rehearsing for all sorts,” said Dr Garner.
And with more and more students involved each year with our school’s growing Music department, it’s set to get noisier.
Dr Garner is a cellist with a Doctorate of Musical Arts from Michigan State University. She is coordinator of the school’s Performing Arts Faculty, comprising Drama and Music. In last year’s Cambridge exams, 88% of the Faculty’s senior students received an A or A* grade.