Music fosters bond of protection between pupils and older staff as The Yehudi Menuhin School embraces new safety restrictions

After being forced to close for five months, The Yehudi Menuhin School has reopened with a renewed emphasis on joyful yet safe learning and music-making.

With a community of pupils and staff from all over the world, there were inevitably some who were not able to return for the first day of term – either due to quarantine restrictions or difficulty getting flights – but the majority of the School community was reunited at a safe distance on Wednesday morning.

Though the national news has been awash with stories young people flaunting the rules and taking the blame for putting older people at risk, the opposite is true at YMS. Pupils here have a deep respect for their teachers and the older generation, fostered in large part by the strong connections they make through a shared love of music. This bond has brought about a culture of protection, and genuine kindness and concern amongst the children, who feel it is their duty to adhere to the rules in order to safeguard the older members of the School community. The School has always prided itself on having a family atmosphere, but this has been brought into sharp focus this term.

With strict new rules introduced on site to facilitate distancing and safety, YMS pupils have taken these restrictions in their stride, embracing the responsibility they have towards their teachers, some of whom are elderly or have increased vulnerability.

A-level pupil and winner of this year’s Strings Final at BBC Young Musician, Coco Tomita said: Despite the many rules that have had to be put in place, I am so grateful to be back on site again. There is nothing quite like being in the school physically and seeing friends and staff face to face. However, we all understand that precautions must be taken so the School can keep running, and this means adhering to the set rules, especially as our brilliant teachers and members of staff are so much more vulnerable to the virus than we pupils, and need our protection. The drastic change in the way we must now go about our lives has been a challenge to adapt to, but by doing this, we are able to take a step closer to the norm and have the liberty to study and make music once again at a closer proximity.

It will be a while before the regular programme of public concerts can resume, but in the meantime, the pupils are thrilled to be back in Surrey, doing what they do best - learning and playing music together.

11 Sep 2020