If ever there was a time when music dominated the school community, then last week was it. The music department has recently laid on a host of activities that have both excited and educated our students.
On Tuesday 28th of June, nationally and internationally renowned jazz saxophonist and Director of Jazz Studies at the RNCM, Mike Hall, spent a day at our school teaching 35 students three pieces of music to perform for parents and teachers at the end of the day. The main focus of this workshop was to develop our jazz improvising skills, to broaden our creative musical thinking and improve our ability to play music on the spot. The three pieces which were performed included a classic Stevie Wonder tune, a funky jazz piece called Cold Duck Time and an original slow, atmospheric piece written by Mike, entitled Lara J.
“It was a great experience and fun to be tested and put on the spot,” stated Tom Freeman from 9R, grateful to have had such an opportunity.
We were extremely lucky to work with Mike Hall all day and to receive his advice and tips on how to improvise using different scales and patterns, and by the end of the day the participants felt much more comfortable and confident, many students performing improvised solos in the presentation to parents.
The following day, the school Choir travelled to London to see the musical ‘Wicked’ and take part in a West End workshop with a musical director, and to also meet Ashleigh Gray, who previously played Elphaba in ‘Wicked’. I’m sure everyone would agree that seeing such a beautiful West End show as ‘Wicked’ was a very emotional experience, and that meeting and working with a professional musical director was also very inspiring and illuminating. After a Q&A session the choir got the amazing opportunity to sing ‘What is this feeling?’ with Ashleigh Gray, and this was an extraordinary, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that everyone was incredibly excited about. The musical spirit was high throughout the coach journey, and the choir belted out spontaneous harmonies to a wide variety of songs.
The feedback from students on the trip was totally positive, and we all hope, therefore, that we will be able to have further fantastic experiences like this in the future!
Along with these amazing opportunities, the music department organised a fun Expo event, in which students moved spontaneously around the school, playing British-composed pieces to fit our 2016 Expo theme of “Great Britons.” Even though nobody really expected random performances in the Canteen or the Cloisters, these tantalisingly tuneful tidbits surely increased our awareness of the importance of British music, put smiles on our faces and whetted our appetites for more.
The students would like to say a huge thank you to the music staff for making these amazing opportunities available to us, and we hope to involve ourselves in more music in the future.