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Junior School alumna returns to share National Youth Orchestra experience

Junior School alumna returns to share National Youth Orchestra experience

This week, we were delighted to welcome back a Junior School alumna, Maryam Giraud, who visited us to deliver a Music Workshop in her capacity as a member of the internationally renowned ‘National Youth Orchestra’.  Maryam has just finished her A-Levels at St. Mary’s Senior School and will shortly be beginning her university studies, in Music, at Pembroke College, Cambridge.

All of our Year 5 girls, with members of our String Ensemble from Years 3-6, participated in the workshop, which began with Maryam performing part of a Viola Sonata by Rebecca Clarke. The girls were thrilled to see and hear this performance, giving it a rousing round of applause. Maryam then introduced herself and talked about the National Youth Orchestra (in which she plays the viola) and its work.  She asked the girls about instruments that they currently play, or would like to start learning, before performing a selection of tunes from recent and iconic movies, such as Encanto and Harry Potter.

The next section of the workshop was based upon the warm-up exercises that are used at the beginning of National Youth Orchestra rehearsals.  These involved clapping and shaking hands and legs in the air at ever increasing speeds! 

After a thorough warm-up, the girls took part in a performance of the Habañera from Bizet’s Carmen.  Their role was to stomp their feet and clap their hands in a complex rhythm, similar to the role often played by the percussion section of an orchestra, to provide a rhythmic foundation for Maryam’s viola solo. This demonstrated to the girls, in a very practical way, the necessity of keeping absolutely together when performing as part of an ensemble.

The Junior School were delighted with the workshop and everyone wanted to pass on their best wishes:

"We would like to extend our grateful thanks to Maryam for a thoroughly enjoyable and inspiring workshop. We would also like to wish her the very best of luck for her forthcoming studies at Cambridge University and whatever musical adventures may follow."