After weeks of dreadful weather, Oxford has finally been blessed with sunshine, and our students have been taking full advantage of the beautiful weather in one of the world’s most beautiful cities.
On Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons, students at St. Peter’s enjoy their ‘afternoon workshops’. These workshops are related to the students’ morning academic lessons, but are designed to be more interactive and practical. One of our counsellors followed the students for an afternoon.
The ‘Acting and Performance’, ‘Public Speaking’ and ‘Film Academy’ students headed to the Taylorian Institute to continue with their courses. The Taylorian Institute is a building connected to the famous Ashmolean Museum and is part of Oxford University; the rooms in this building provide space for students to practise their chosen courses away from the classroom.
On one side of the Institute, a group of twenty students spent their afternoon attending a workshop on Public Speaking. In their morning classroom environment, these students had prepared a speech lasting one minute entitled “my school”. Now, in the architecturally beautiful setting and using the prop of a lectern, ORA students took it in turns to give their speech to an audience. This exercise was not only a fantastic way to help build individuals’ confidence, but also an interesting way to learn about the differences between these culturally diverse student’s homes and education systems.
After everyone in the group had given their speech, the workshop’s leader discussed the aspects of the speeches, which had been done well and how the students could improve their skills even more. Students agreed that one-minute was often not very long once they had begun to start talking on a well-known subject. The group also remarked that often when in front of an audience, it is difficult to fight the desire to fidget and “um”.
The group’s leader gave the students some helpful tips on how to deliver a speech smoothly and confidently, which included:
The young public speakers will continue to practise these skills over the next few days and are building up towards a student debate at the end of the second week.
Earlier this week, if you had your ears perked yesterday, you may have heard the faintest sound of drumming rumbling from within the walls of Oxford Royale Academy’s Jowett Walk campus.
The sketching and photography group were well under way with their practice after Monday’s introduction, and all got their creative juices flowing with watercolours, pen and ink drawing and photographic exploration.
Musical musing came into the fore yesterday evening, as an eagerly anticipated drumming class allowed the students to release some energy and get creative once more.
Drumming comes in many shapes and forms. This time, African-inspired beats were the exestuation; a vibrant and diverse style that many had not seen or heard before.
The traditional form of sub-Saharan drumming is “characterised by a ‘strong rhythmic interest’”, and as a genre it finds itself more and more thrust into populist musical culture.
That said, the class heard of historical context as well as performance today, and students were able to learn a lot about how African drumming has evolved over time as well as perfecting basic beats of their own.
Lady Margaret Hall
At 7.30pm, it was time for the show. Oxford Royale Academy students from Lady Margaret Hall had spent the afternoon exploring the sights and sounds of London before enjoying a musical. The story is a spin-off from The Wizard of Oz, detailing the lives of the Wicked Witch of the West and the Good Witch of the North, with most of the story taking place before the events of the original script.
The play begins with the death of the Wicked Witch of the West (known in this as Elphaba) and the celebrations of the people of Oz. The rest of the story is told in the form of flashback, with the Good Witch of the North (Galinda) defending her and her difficult life. It is revealed throughout the play that the two were friends in their college years, before Elphaba turned to evil due to difficulties fitting in.
The show has received very positive reviews and the students certainly seemed to enjoy it as well. Although a relatively new production, having first opened in 2003, it has sold out on numerous occasions and won several awards. There is plenty to suggest that Wicked could go down to be as much of a classic as the original Wizard of Oz.
After the show, the students returned to Oxford on the coach. With London being so nearby, they can look forward to another trip to the capital next Tuesday. Meanwhile, they have a ghost tour, salsa dancing classes, a trip to Bicester Village, a sports day in the parks, a drumming workshop and fencing lessons to look forward to – all in the next few days!