News and blog

Music in the Senior School and Sixth Form

Music in the Senior School and Sixth Form

What a challenging year this has been for music departments across the UK!

The Coronavirus pandemic has not only changed the way we teach music, but has also completely changed our approach to extra-curricular music-making this year. With strict restrictions on singing and playing wind instruments, social distancing and year group bubbles, the students have risen magnificently to the challenge of doing things very differently.
In September we introduced our programme of year group bubble ensembles and choirs, with students rehearsing in much smaller groups in order to maintain a covid-safe environment. Rather than preparing for a big Christmas showcase at the University Concert Hall, the students started rehearsing for our inaugural virtual Musical extravaganza! In November, with the support and expertise of our school sound engineer Joe Nicholson, we started the epic task of individually recording the parts for each musical performance. The final outcome – a 40-minute YouTube video - featured a cornucopia of diverse performances ranging from Jazzmatazz performing Now Rock Ye, Rested Gentlemen to Music Captain Issy H. performing the spellbinding Persian Fire Dance to the school Chamber Choir, Allegro, performing a moving festive piece by Peter Warlock The First Mercy by (electric) candlelight. The ‘Michaelmas Musical Celebration’ (as we called it) ended with a powerful tribute to our wonderful NHS – a massed performance of True Colors sung by students from all year groups as well as talented staff.

Music examinations

A huge congratulations to all St Mary’s students who have worked towards individual instrumental/vocal music examinations online this year, entering a brave new world of Zoom instrumental lessons and video submissions! 

Special congratulations also to Year 11 Music Scholar Maryam G. who composed an original piece of music called Alone Together for the East Anglian Young Composer Competition 2021 and has been short-listed for the final. We eagerly await the results! During lockdown, Maryam also taught herself how to use iMovie to create a multi-tracked performance of Erbarme dich, mein Gott from J.S. Bach’s St Matthew Passion in which she accompanied herself singing the beautiful aria, playing three string parts (violin 1, violin 2 and viola). 

HPL in Music

Collaboration, practice, perseverance and resilience are key High Performance Learning (HPL) values, attitudes and attributes which are embraced by our Music department. Despite not being able to mix year groups and work on any live large-scale performances, students relished working together on chamber music performances - a different way of working for many – and they have honed their ensemble skills and taken more risks in their playing.

The year we have come to appreciate just how much we value live musical performances and the opportunities to make music together in a large group. To quote Joni Mitchell “you don't know what you’ve got 'til it's gone”, and certainly we should never take for granted the opportunities that we have here at St Mary’s; to be part of a shared musical experience, standing shoulder to shoulder with one another with one common aim.

Mrs Gears

Return to Magnolian 2021