Passion and Tradition in the Music Department

Hearing Parker Hall swell with strings, piano, vocals, band, and Indian music during Spring Concerts was reminiscent of 2019, when Woodstock’s music program was one of the defining features of the school. Concerts would go on for the entire week, the breathtaking and highly technical performances of students who had practiced for months resounding through the auditorium. While the introduction of the IB programme means that students might overlook music due to the academic demands, Woodstock’s music curriculum is and always has been central to its principles of excellence and growth.

Numerous studies have demonstrated the significance of listening to and playing music for development, with benefits in the areas of problem solving, memory, teamwork, and creative thinking. Research from Penn Medicine suggests that playing an instrument engages the peripheral nervous system, the executive function, and a variety of processes involved in processing sensory information, creating a “uniquely good form of exercising the brain” that can also act as a stress reliever. These skills can be transformative in the growth and happiness of students.

When it comes to harnessing the musical potential of its students for technical development and joy, our school’s reputation is inimitable. In fact, Tiara Jain, Grade 11, who now plays first violin for Intermediate Orchestra, says that one of the reasons she joined Woodstock was due to the “brilliant music department” reflective of the school’s “holistic education.” “It was the best music department in all of India,” she says, a sentiment undoubtedly reflected amongst music students. “I’ve never met music teachers who were able to elicit growth out of me like this,” says Samaira Kapur, Grade 11, who has been playing classical guitar for all of her six years at Woodstock. She continues to mention how, although COVID was a challenge for the music department, Head of Department Mr. Ravi Arthur “channeled this into double the vigor and launched an ensemble for an instrument that doesn’t usually have one.” The guitar ensemble, consisting of Sakurako Mishima, Kanav Gandhi, Diya Bubber, and Samaira Kapur, showcased their talent at the Spring Concert, with their classical guitar performances.

Along with the continuous enhancement of skill, educators, and programs available, what makes Woodstock’s music department so unique is its “long history of music,” according to Mr. Cameron Bradley, who joined this year and has been tasked with “reviving the band program” post-pandemic. In the coming months, Mr. Cameron aims to “build rapport with students, create a positive environment, and progress really quickly if we can.” Remy Stevenson from Grade 9, who has been playing percussion for two years, mentions how, in Mr. Cameron’s band classes “you find yourself waiting for each class and wanting to learn more.” This vibrant quality of instruction seen throughout the various music programs is showcased in classical concerts, Indian music performances, and weekly recitals.

“Music is an art,” Remy says, “and so you have to be passionate about it.” And who better reflects the passion and craft of music at Woodstock than Mr. Ravi Arthur, who has been teaching here since 1990? Throughout his time here, Mr. Arthur, the first Indian to lead Woodstock’s orchestra, has developed the strings program and introduced classical guitar. Now, thanks to Mr. Arthur, Woodstock is one of just a few schools in India teaching double bass. “I’m looking forward to bringing back the glory of our music program,” he says, speaking of how music will soon be “revived at Woodstock.”

Asha is Editor-in-Chief.

Edited by Aryaman.

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