Teacher Hub

Meet the teacher - Anna Gower, St Andrews International School Bangkok

Written by William Thompson10/08/23

Anna Gower is Head of Primary Music at St Andrews International School Bangkok. The Primary School is for children aged 3-11 and they then move on to High School where they study iGCSE and IB Diploma. Here she tells us a little about her school, her approach and her aspirations:

We have 3 full time music teachers at our Primary School, and a team of visiting instrumental tutors support our Year 5 and 6 instrumental programme and offer private music lessons as well.

We have 3 music classrooms, one large and 2 smaller ones. We have 2 keyboard rooms and use of the school Drama studio for whole year group singing and for performances. As the school has grown, we have had to also use the Sports Hall for our larger concerts and events which brings challenges with acoustics and being able to successfully mic up our performers.

The main challenge for us is that all of our rooms are multi-purpose and used by children of all ages. The 2 smaller rooms used to be keyboard rooms and are quite loud and echoey when children are playing instruments which they struggle with. We also lack storage and as a well-established music department, we have a number of large and unusual instruments that are rarely used, but need to be kept somewhere.

This year we are repurposing one smaller classroom as an Early Years Music space where we will create a learning area that is appropriate for our youngest musicians. They will be able to access smaller versions of instruments such as small sized claves and small hand drums. We will tailor our displays and room layouts to encourage children to play, sing and move as they explore and create their own music.

In the longer term, we would love to have some breakout spaces to be able to use for instrument lessons and for group work. Also on our wishlist is an auditorium or larger performance space that would enable us to work more closely with our High School colleagues and bring children together for performances in a single, purpose-built space. We have started conversations with William at Chamberlain Music who offers this sort of consultancy.

I couldn’t do my job without my piano. I use a Kawai piano in my teaching all the time and the sturdiness of the model I have and the way that keys are weighted makes it a pleasure to play. In the past some of our most advanced pianists have performed on it at concerts and Music Competitions. Because of the need to move equipment, depending on how we are using the spaces, we have also invested in some lighter, portable pianos such as the Yamaha P-series portable pianos

On my wish list is a decent sound system for the classroom, one that is appropriate for the space and where the speakers can be placed so that sound is not too loud or too quiet. I want the children to experience great quality audio when they listen to and hear music so that they really feel they are sitting in the middle of a symphony orchestra or choir!