Joanna Cull
A collage of the ISZL Grade 7 music videos

A selection of the Grade 7 music videos


Alexis Dahl explains how the Fund for Excellence turned a Grade 7 Middle School music video project into an in-house virtual arts festival, with artists streaming in from as far afield as Los Angeles

In 2019-2020, the Middle School Arts Team decided to launch The Music Video Project for Grade 7. This interdisciplinary unit between Music, Visual Arts and Drama would span nearly the entire year and incorporate lyric writing, songwriting and recording, artistic design and production, and film editing techniques to heighten the elements of drama. The students would collaborate in “bands” within their homerooms to turn inspiration into action, drawing focus to an issue of their choosing by the artwork they make. 

As a result of the pandemic, last year’s Grade 7 class were not able to complete the project in time. In 2020-2021, we relaunched the project for this year’s Grade 7 class, this time with more resources and adaptive plans to complete the project whether remote or in person.

Enter ISTA: the International Schools Theatre Association traditionally connects students around the world, and ISZL frequently hosts its events. Students are grouped together with artists, creating original performances that explore a big idea, like the concept-based learning of the MYP. 

Owing to the generous grant of the FFE, ISZL hosted ISTA’s largest to date In-House Virtual Festival. For an entire school day, 5 artists from as far afield as Los Angeles, USA, streamed into all of the G7 classes. The artists were paired with “homeroom-ensembles” and shared a common objective to offer alternative techniques or approaches to lyric and songwriting for the students’ music videos. This extraordinary opportunity gave students the chance to learn from people who work in the arts, and to stretch their work further. 

Underlying all of the imaginative work the students engaged in during the festival was a dedication to breaking down borders between communities, passing through barriers that isolate us from the experiences of our fellow humans. The festival was just for ISZL, and was used as a model for future online events. 

Owing to the success of the day, and the enthusiastic engagement of the Grade 7 Team Teachers in the process and project, Middle School teachers also had the opportunity to enrol in professional development with two of the exceptional artists who led the festival. In mid-March, choreographers Alan Brooks and Christina Fulcher returned to guide a small group of teachers through approaches to inquiry with a kinaesthetic or movement-based focus. The exercises could be used in any subject area and also served to refresh teaching staff at a busy time of year.

On May 11th, I was interviewed by ISTA as part of an Instagram livestream to further publicise the artistic collaboration between ISTA and ISZL. The size of this virtual festival made it quite exceptional and the success of the feat has made it a model for future ISTA collaborations.

The final music videos from the G7 students can be found here.

  • Drama
  • Music