Each week, Instrumental Music staff share student insights into their experience of co-curricular music at BGGS. Assistant Director of Instrumental Music, Mr Paul Johnston, spoke to two students—Lucy Goodall (9L) and Anna Vu (8H)—about trying new instruments, how their skills have deepened over the past two years, and how the program supports the development of skills beyond music.
When did you begin in Instrumental Music and what made you want to start playing an instrument at BGGS?
Anna—‘I started learning the French horn almost two years ago. My main goal was to broaden my musical knowledge and progress quickly. At first, I wanted to play a different instrument, but I chose the French horn because it’s a rarer instrument, and it meant that I could move up bands more quickly. And because of my prior music knowledge, the French horn was pretty much ideal for me to play’.
Lucy—‘I began Instrumental Music this year when I moved to BGGS (Year 9), because I have really enjoyed music in the past, and wanted to learn new skills and have the opportunity to play in a band’.
Because you started in our beginner program, we are eager to hear how you feel you are progressing when compared to other students of your age who have perhaps started on their instrument a few years before you.
Anna—‘I feel that I’ve progressed well. I’ve met many other French horn players, but none of them are in the same grade as me. However, listening to others has given me the motivation to improve over the two years I’ve played’.
Lucy—‘I feel that although other students my age have played for longer than I have, I have improved personally, compared to my ability to play at the beginning of the year. I have enjoyed meeting girls from other Year levels who are also beginners and we have progressed together during the year’.
Thinking back to when you first started on your instrument, do you think you’ve progressed quickly, steadily, or slowly? What makes you think this?
Anna—‘I feel that I progressed at a good pace for me. The level of music was good for me this year because there were challenging elements, as well as elements that I already knew about’.
Lucy—‘Because of the support I received from the Music Department during lessons and band, I was able to progress quickly, as I have learned new skills, such as sight reading and how to play in a band’.
Before you started playing your instrument, what did you think the experience would be like? Do you feel differently now, and if so, in what way?
Anna—‘I was quite excited. Since I ended up choosing an instrument that I didn’t know much about, I was looking forward to it. My feeling towards learning an instrument is still the same. I’m constantly wanting to get better with tone, accuracy, phrasing, etc’.
Lucy—‘Before playing my instrument, I thought the experience would be daunting as I was beginning in Year 9, unlike others who started in previous years. Now, I feel that my experience in Instrumental Music at BGGS has been really enjoyable as I have joined a band where everyone is of a similar level, and I have been able to improve quickly.’
Mr Paul Johnston
Assistant Director of Instrumental Music