Former King’s music teacher adds extra sparkle to pre-school sessions
A former music teacher at King’s College School has started her own music and storytelling company.
Davina Shore was deputy director of music and head of pre-prep music at the Cambridge school until December 2019. At the start of 2020 she set up and now runs Davina Shore Music, which offers workshops and tuition to youngsters aged from three to 11.
“I was particularly responsible for pupils aged four to seven,” she says, “plus wider music teaching in school aged up to 13.
“I’d been there 18 years. I left as I had a strong desire to work in the wider community and trained as an advisory teacher – a specialist teacher who can run courses. I'd always had an eye for working with teachers and doing in-service training.”
Davina had also written a book called Snap Crackle Pop which was published by Kevin Mayhews in 2009: “a resource book for teachers to teach music in a very creative way”.
“I often got invites to lead sessions for teachers, so I'd always done bits and pieces like that but, much as I liked my job, those bits were being squeezed out and I had that desire to reach a wider audience.”
She’s also broadened her own repertoire to the point that a CD of her own children’s songs is due out.
“I’ve written ten songs which are in the book and it explains how to use songs to unpack musical ideas. It’ll be called The Singing Sheltie – based on my own dogs which need to learn to sing not shout!”
She adds: “I have the Sibelius [software] package on my computer.
“I always start on piano, I usually write with words first. I get the idea for a theme and off I go and write the words, and when I’m happy with it I put some music to it.
“One song, Let’s Celebrate, was performed at Ely Cathedral at Christmas.
“I always intended it for children to sing and the teacher to accompany on piano. With the book it’ll have a CD or something to play to do the accompaniment. If not CD it’ll be a recording with a link as not all primary schools have teachers who are confident to play.”
So have music sessions been eased out of the early-years curriculum?
“Music teaching in primary schools is very patchy,” Davina replies. “I know because I’ve been a primary school teacher who has to teach everything, and people have subjects they’re confident in, and some not so much, and in some schools music is not top of the pile.
“Primary teachers are multi-talented and with some understanding you can give confidence and ideas to integrate music into their working week.
“I am passionate not just for music’s sake, I can see how music helps in a cross-curricular way: English is my other big passion. I often would use music to encourage creative writing. It’s not static.”
It hasn’t been an easy ride. Davina started her business just as lockdown came in, and then she was diagnosed with cancer, from which she is now in remission – “I’m doing really well now, I finished all the horrible treatment last August.”
As things open up again, she has started taking on more. One regular session is at the Little Sparkles Preschool Music Club at St Andrew’s Church in Cherry Hinton.
“It’s on Monday morning, from 9.30am to 10.15am,” says Davina. “There’s around 12 children: we always have a story in the listening box, with activities around the story, welcome songs, parachute songs, a giant scrunchy for children to use, lots of percussion instruments so they choose one and play along with me, plus coloured chiffon scarfs they play in time with the music.
“They play in time with the music; respond to high and low sounds with movement and actions; experiment with fast and slow, sounds and silence and creating sound in different ways.
“I’m very aware of the early years curriculum so I work with that too. Starting this September I’ll be working with three schools a week – either after school or during lunchtime. Two of the schools are in Cambridge and the other one is in Ely.
“I have been invited to be the primary lead on an outreach project with Cambridge Youth Opera. It’s all been approved by the trustees, we applied for Arts Council funding.
“Then there’s two mornings of half-term workshops on May 30 and 31 at St Mark’s Church Centre in Newnham for Years 1, 2 and 3. The theme there is ‘Feeling Blue’ – it’ll be about how colour affects our moods, and can lift us up. So that’s rhythm games, parachute games, core songs, and we do a little concert for the parents on the second day. Details are on the website.”