July 25th 2017

​Music @ QB: A roundup of 2016-17

What a year it has been for music at QB!

We started the year with some fantastic results in the GCSE and Btec music courses (100% A* - C and 40% A*-A), and were up and running with a very full extra-curricular program from early on in September, including QB Vocal Group, Orchestra, Dhol Group, Urban Fusion, Keyboard Club, and Jazz Band. Half of Year 7 were involved in creating and performing music in the October iweek, which explored some of Roald Dhal’s works and soon after that we were busy preparing for the Christmas concert, which included many wonderful individual performances as well as the ensembles.

Early in January, ten pupils were invited to work with the National Youth Orchestra as Young Promoters and began their experience by seeing the NYO perform at Symphony Hall and meeting Tom Redmond, a BBC radio producer. The whole of Year 7 went to the CBSO schools concert, also in Symphony Hall. The year 10 Music GCSE students wrote fanfares to enter into the Royal Opera House Fanfare competition and one of their number was successful – Cian has since visited London twice, working with their orchestra and musical director Sir Antonio Pappano to orchestrate and record his winning entry. After half term pupils competed in the annual music House competition ‘The QB Voice’ which was eventually won with a stunning performance by Zarah in Year 8. The Year 11 music Btec students all performed their DJ sets to an audience of parents and friends – this year the standard was even higher than that achieved previously with students showing excellent skill and development. There were also some outside performances: the Vocal Group and the Rock and Pop ensemble both performed in their relevant Music Service concerts and received some great feedback.

With the summer term came preparations for the summer concert and Summerfest ’17. The former fell on an extremely hot day, which led to a venue change to the library in search of air conditioning. This proved to be a lovely venue for the many solo and small ensemble performances. A week later Summerfest also included performances galore: steel pans, singers, gospel choir, bands, DJs and dhol drums were all represented. The day was brilliantly organised and run by the Btec music group and even the weather was amazing! The Year 10 music GCSE group and the year 9s who have chosen GCSE music were both treated to day-long workshops with BCMG (Birmingham Contemporary Music Group), which stretched their understanding of development of musical ideas and improvisation. The composer and musicians who worked with our pupils on these days were impressed by the musicality that they saw.

However, possibly the highlight of the year was still to come; on the 12th of July the NYO Inspire Orchestra descended on QB, bringing with them a harp, two sets of timpani, tubas, several adults and two coach loads of excited and talented teenagers. Behind the scenes, the Young Promoters had been preparing for this day, meeting with Tom Redmond (BBC presenter) to gain an understanding of hosting and presenting at such an event. Every student who plays an instrument was invited to spend most of the day with the orchestral musicians, watching a rehearsal, taking part in improvisatory workshops and eventually watching a concert. The whole of Year 8 were also present at the concert and were blown away by a brilliant dramatic interpretation of Bernstein’s On The Waterfront, which included a fantastically relevant script delivered by National Youth Theatre actor Brandon. The experience of listening to a 75-strong orchestra in our own school hall is not one that will be easily forgotten, but equally brilliant was watching QB and NYO pupils jam together in their lunch break, surrounded by a huge cluster of their peers.

As I write this, we have nearly finished the July iweek in which the whole of year 7 have experienced a day-long workshop in each of the arts. In music we have been looking at using rap and song lyrics to communicate what each pupil's dream for a better world is, having been inspired by the famous ‘I Have a Dream’ speech by Martin Luther King. Some pupils have turned their thoughts into songs and others into raps and all have performed at the end of each day.

Of course, the day-to-day of the music department is working with every student in the school on their musicianship and we have seen some fantastic effort and results from pupils’ hard work. From Year 9 Stomp performances and Year 8 remixes of Hall of the Mountain King through to Year 7 samba drumming and melody writing, we have enjoyed seeing so many students develop in their musical ability and we look forward to more of the same next year!

Mrs King, Head of Music