Downs School

Music and Movement: 1950's

By Philip Burnard

BBC School Radio

In the 1950s, an important aspect of the primary school curriculum was exercise and coordination. At the Down's School, this took the shape of logging into a BBC School Radio programme called Music and Movement. We were all fascinated by how it all worked. We would gather in the main hall and a teacher turned on a huge speaker by way of a two point electricity plug. It has to be remembered that most homes didn't have 'power' points and this ability to plug into the system seemed incredible.

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Being a tree

At two pm, the speaker told us that Children's Programming was about to start. There was, no doubt, a musical call sign. In fact, I think I can bring it to mind. A silver toned presenter would then explain what was going to happen. The children were going to be asked to take on shapes and generally to improvise. The shape I remember most was 'slowly become a tree...lift your arms up to the sky...' And so on. It was all a bit camp but we got on with it. We did the trees, the clouds and so on.

The fascination of broadcasting

Although, to some of us, it all felt a bit weird, there were great plusses to this programme. It taught us something about posture and it gave us exercise. Any pupil, sporty or not, got to move in space and to become more self aware. It also taught a sense of rhythm. No one was judged by what they did. I well remember trying to puzzle over how the system worked. As a child of my time, I had no experience of what broadcasting was about. Did the teacher have an arrangement with the BBC? What happened before and after the program was broadcast?  How did the teacher know it would be on at 2pm? All this was as interesting as the programme, itself. 

 

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