Instrumental Music news

Clare Tyrell—Upper Strings workshop

Last Thursday, Mendelssohn and Chamber Strings participated in a violin workshop with Ms Clare Tyrell. The workshop covered multiple performance techniques, tone production, and musicianship. The students thoroughly enjoyed the expertise and engaging nature of Ms Tyrell’s workshop, making it a resounding success.

Junior Band Workshop

This week, our Wind Band and Wind Ensemble students participated in the Junior Band Workshop. Our bands worked admirably with the guest clinicians on music that they had received recently in their ensemble rehearsals.

At the workshop, students worked on:

  • performance skills and etiquette
  • refining their instrumental and ensemble skills
  • sharing in the wonderful experience of creating music together in a larger group
  • rhythmic accuracy and rhythm performance.

The afternoon was full of fun and great music-making. Thank you to our guest clinicians, Ms Jodie Lutherborrow and Ms Clare Deady, and congratulations to our Wind Band and Wind Ensemble students for working so diligently.

Autumn Choral Concert—Roma Street Parklands

Last night, our Vocal department presented their Autumn Choral Concert at the Roma Street Parklands. Featuring Euphonix, Voices, Vox, Encore, Celtic Ensemble, and Gypsy Band, our students entertained the audience with a wide-ranging repertoire that captivated the appreciative audience, who enjoyed a relaxing evening on the lawns of the Parklands amphitheatre.

Thank you to the Vocal students and staff for your wonderful musicianship, and for presenting such a joyful concert in the lovely surroundings of our city gardens.

Jazz and Percussion Concert—Wednesday 30 March

In Week 10, the School will be holding our Jazz and Percussion Concert. This year, we are really creating a jazz club feel in the Louise McDonald room. Special seating arrangements, lighting, and sound will contribute to the new experience for audience members at this concert. The evening will also feature a special guest performance by former BGGS students—drummer Abigail Chadirchi (2021) and vocalist Tiffany Davidson (2018) and their band. The concert will run between 6 pm to 8 pm and the ensembles will also have a sound-check in the afternoon, following the below timetable.

Students will have access to a $2 sausage sizzle from 4.30 pm to 5.30 pm and families will be able to purchase picnic boxes with tickets and enjoy them at their tabled seating throughout the concert. There will also be an Easter-themed raffle—tickets can be purchased with cash on the evening. Students are requested to donate an Easter-themed item for this raffle, please. Donations can be dropped at Miss Porter’s office.

Come along for a relaxed evening in a wonderful environment while being entertained by our jazz ensembles and percussionists.

Arrival times for performers
Sound checks will be held from 3.40 pm in the Louise McDonald room

3.40 pm—Big Band
4 pm—Stage Band
4.20 pm—Little Big Band
4.40 pm—Jazz Ensemble
5 pm—Percussion 1

Autumn Strings Concert—Monday 28 March (6 pm to 7.15 pm) Gehrmann Theatre

The Autumn Strings Concert will feature our Junior and Intermediate String Ensembles as well as the Guitar Ensemble. While the Senior String ensembles are not performing at this concert, it is an excellent opportunity for our intermediate musicians to demonstrate leadership and to be highlighted for their efforts. Cindy Zhang (8L) and Clara Li (8B) from Albinoni Strings have shown a generous spirit of mentorship to the Elgar Strings by supporting them in rehearsals and in their upcoming performance.

Repertoire for this concert is varied, including a Classical Mozart Symphonic movement, a Neo-Classical work, and a number of folk-inspired works including an Irish Aire and a Kabuki Dance. There will be plenty of contrast and musical colour on show.

The Autumn Strings concert is the first major performance activity for many students this year and for some, it is particularly exciting as it will be their first BGGS music concert. We are very excited for those who are embarking on their musical journey at BGGS.

Families are warmly invited to come and support our musicians. Tickets are only available online here. The MSG is generously providing pre-concert refreshments which will be served outside the Gehrmann Theatre from 5.30 pm. We look forward to welcoming you to this exciting concert!

Viola Day—Friday 1 April

On Viola Day, our students are privileged to work with a professional violist, Ms Alice Buckingham from Camerata, Queensland’s Chamber Orchestra. Students will participate in a series of workshops and masterclasses culminating in The Edmee Gainsford Viola Prize. All violists will perform as we highlight an instrument that is crucial to our orchestral program but rarely gets the spotlight.

Appropriately, we celebrate with a viola-themed morning tea complete with cake. We look forward to this celebration of ‘all things alto’.

Instrumental Music competitions page update

Instrumental Music Administration Officer, Mrs Talluah Harper, has worked hard to update the Minerva competitions page. Students can now nominate via the page for competitions that have opened for enrolments.

Instrumental Music lessons, practice, rehearsals—how are they different?

In the BGGS Instrumental Music program, there are two major school-based components: lessons and Band rehearsals. The third component, and arguably most crucial, is personal home practice. Students should be engaging in all three elements to maximise their success within the Instrumental Music Program.

As Instrumental Music Teachers, we sometimes see students who engage well in lessons and rehearsals but do not always have the most effective home practice routine. This article aims to outline the function and purpose of the three elements.


Instrumental Music lessons form the content delivery component of the program and are delivered in either a small-group or private format. Sometimes, students choose to participate in both. This delivery method is not common across the developed world. In the USA, for example, this component does not exist in many school environments, and students engage only in band rehearsals where there can be as many as 150 students in the room at one time. At BGGS, group lessons usually have an average of 2-4 students per class lesson. This provides an excellent opportunity for students to receive greater individualised attention when compared to a large group format. However, this still only provides teachers the opportunity to ‘steer’ students in the right direction. Imparting specific knowledge, techniques and skills is possible in lessons with the intent of students taking that information home to hone their skill development.

Lessons are not a substitute for home practice, because lessons happen once a week, and usually for only 30 minutes. Students require opportunities alone to refine the skills described, demonstrated, and imparted in their lessons. Learning a musical instrument takes a great deal of skill repetition to put those skills into ‘muscle memory’ or subconscious thought. Much like riding a bicycle—we don’t think about it, we just do it.

Very similar to the concept of ‘homework’ for an academic subject, home practice is crucial for reinforcing knowledge, skills, and capabilities.


Personal (home) practice is where the conscious thought processes can be made sub-conscious or put into muscle memory. The repetition of skill-building exercises along with reading musical notation, which is similar to reading/learning another language, is essential to the development and improvement of the young musician. An analogy sometimes used with young musicians is to imagine if they only walked on one day each week for 30 minutes—they would quickly lose the ability/strength to walk. Playing a musical instrument works exactly the same way. Perhaps even more so, because performing on a musical instrument employs fine motor skills that require even greater refinement than large muscle groups. This possibly explains why, when we see/hear a great musician, it all seems so natural to them. They’ve worked so hard to put those skills into sub-conscious thought that it does, indeed, become second-nature to them. It can easily be dismissed as a natural/innate talent, but as any successful musician will attest, talent only gets you so far before hard work is required—Nil Sine Labore.

The old saying ‘practice makes perfect’ has been adjusted over the years to variations like ‘perfect practice makes perfect’ or ‘practice makes permanent’.

A thorough, immersive, consistent, and goal-oriented home practice routine can prove revolutionary to the young musician, and often brings about exponential improvement. This said, occasionally the improvement is incremental and can be difficult for the developing musician to distinguish.


Ensemble rehearsals, like band, orchestra, jazz ensemble, choir, and string orchestra, are considered a vital part of the Instrumental Music Program and are the reason we have lessons and practice. Musicians playing in a musical ensemble is the culminating activity of Instrumental Music. Ensemble rehearsals are not a substitute for lessons or home practice.

Each ensemble usually only rehearses once per week (twice for some senior ensembles), so this extremely limited time is precious. Accumulated ensemble rehearsal time over a whole year adds up to less than two days of practice time. This is an astounding statistic when one considers that out of that limited rehearsal time, the ensemble creates at least four unique performances. Ensembles also put into focus for young people that music-making is rarely about the individual and much more about the collective—‘we’ rather than ‘me’.

It is important to remember that rehearsal time isn’t a student’s opportunity to learn how their part goes—it is a student’s opportunity to learn how everyone else’s part goes. Therefore, coming to rehearsal well-prepared and able to play their part is their gift to the other musicians in the ensemble. This means that a portion of a student’s home practice needs to be dedicated to practising their ensemble music.

In summary:

  • lessons—content delivery; small group/private imparting of skills/techniques
  • home practice—skill development; coordination; memorisation; individual refinement
  • rehearsals—combining the individual efforts into the collective; ensemble skill development; teamwork; piecing the musical ‘puzzle’ together.

What an audience hears at an ensemble’s performance is the culmination of the above three facets. In isolation, the three facets don’t lead to any meaningful outcome. In combination, however, they can provide the foundation for, not only a successful Instrumental Music Program but a thoroughly engaging activity that students can enjoy for a lifetime.

MSG News

We are still looking for volunteers to assist with the Autumn String concert on 28 March and the Jazz and Percussion concert on 30 March. If your daughter is performing at one of these events, please consider helping out for an hour or so to ensure that your girls have some food before they perform or to assist with audience welcome drinks/ticketing. MSG committee members will be there to assist.

Autumn String concert—
Jazz and Percussion concert—

A reminder to families that we are also taking donations for raffles at these concerts. Please ensure that your gourmet food items are brought to the music office by Monday morning.

Our next meeting will be on Thursday 21 April (Week 1, Term 2) at 6 pm in the choir room.

Please email us at if you have any questions.

Looking Ahead

  • Monday 28 March—Autumn String concert
  • Wednesday 30 March 30—Jazz and Percussion concert (Louise McDonald room) 6 pm
  • Thursday 31 March—Viola Day

Instrumental Music Ensemble Rehearsals

All Instrumental Music ensemble rehearsals will operate as usual next week on their usual day. This includes on the day of Cross Country and the last day of term.

On Thursday morning, if students have an ensemble rehearsal, they will have plenty of time to get from rehearsal over to Victoria Park.