Intermediate Band Workshop
On Tuesday 19 July, we held our Intermediate Band Workshop. This workshop involved Concert Band, Concert Winds, Chamber Winds, and Wind Symphony. The students had the opportunity to work with two guest clinicians, Mr Paul Kuharski and Ms Clare Deady, both of whom are Instrumental Music teachers with Education Queensland and have many decades of teaching and conducting expertise between them.
At the workshop, students worked through specific repertoire, addressed performance skills and etiquette, refined their instrument and ensemble skills, and shared in the wonderful experience of creating music together in a supportive, fun, and collegiate environment.
On Tuesday and Wednesday this week, Big Band and Stage Band participated in a jazz workshop with the Head of School at Jazz Music Institute (JMI), Mr Dan Quigley. The students worked on a variety of jazz styles, techniques, ensemble skills, and improvisation.
The students enjoyed the format created by Mr Quigley and the enlightening and engaging way in which he communicated his in-depth knowledge of the jazz world.
BGGS Open Day
While Open Day has been cancelled this year, we still want to celebrate the wonderful work of our Instrumental Music Department staff and students—so, we are planning for our combined Wind Bands to perform at lunchtime on Friday 29 July in the Band Room.
Students involved in Wind Symphony, Chamber Winds, Concert Winds, and Concert Band are encouraged to bring their friends down to Level 1 of the CLC to hear them perform in their respective combined bands.
Our jazz groups will also have an opportunity at lunchtime soon to perform for the school. Stay tuned!
On Sunday 14 August, the Instrumental Music Department will present our annual Gala Concert in the Great Hall of the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre (BCEC). This year’s Gala will be the first live Gala in three years, so our entire community of staff, students, and families are incredibly excited to produce what promises to be a truly stunning Gala event.
The BCEC Great Hall has hosted some of the entertainment industry’s biggest names and we are very excited to share the space with our audience, to stage a truly remarkable and awe-inspiring concert. We will showcase some of our most gifted musicians, ensembles, and directors throughout the evening.
Luminescence will feature incredible lighting effects, state-of-the-art audio-visual experiences, and the outstanding musicianship of our students.
Stay tuned for the release date of tickets—you will not want to miss this spectacular Gala event!
From the teaching studio
This week, we dropped into one of Mr Cavanough’s percussion lessons with Grace Clothier (8O), Shanae Sirimana (9L), and Sophie Wright (9L). Our wonderful percussionists spend a lot of time at the back of the ensembles—because of this, their role and what is involved in playing percussion is sometimes misunderstood. We have asked the people in the know what their thoughts are about playing percussion at BGGS.
Some people think that playing percussion is ‘easy’ because it’s just ‘hitting things’. Can you tell us about some of the things that you have to do as a percussionist here at BGGS? (e.g. How many instruments do you play? Is there much set-up and pack-down? Are there different techniques for each of the instruments? What do you wish others understood about what you do as a percussionist? etc.)
Shanae—‘In percussion, there are many different components and aspects that make it much more difficult than ‘just hitting things’. Bearing in mind that you carry the tempo and beat of your whole band, you have to be focused on your own rhythm, counting, and dynamics. This can be difficult when you are playing a mallet instrument with notes; the key sizes and locations can differ from the various instruments, so you have to be accustomed to many different environments. Not to mention, the number of quick jumps between instruments that you have to make—one time I had to play six instruments in one song! With the great deal of instruments to play, it means you have to learn the fine techniques for all of them, which takes a lot of time to get used to.’
Grace—‘We must keep track of at least 500 instruments, all of 43 types, of which a very minimal amount require simply ‘hitting’ not to mention when you do ‘just hit things’, taking the drumkit, for example, you must hit up to eight different items at the same time! But going deeper into it, we are seen as ‘beat-keepers’ of bands. Meaning whether nobody else is playing, or everyone else overlapping you, we must keep constant time, therefore, leaving us juggling notes, tempo, pitch all while keeping the band together.’
Sophie—‘I definitely think that there are a lot of things that go unnoticed by people who don’t play percussion. In band, percussionists can be playing up to five instruments each, and in fact, it is anything but easy. It requires a lot of concentration and organisation to be playing the right instrument at the right time and making sure you don’t miss your mark. There are also many different techniques for every instrument, especially on drums and mallet percussion instruments, there are different sticks/mallets to use for different types of songs, if the song were loud, we would use harder and sometimes smaller and more dense mallets, if it was quieter or slower, we would use lighter ones.’
What do you see your role to be as a percussionist in an ensemble at BGGS?
Shanae—’ As a percussionist, our role is to add colour and vibrancy to the pieces. I take pride in how we have a different, unique role that separates us from the rest of the band, especially in how we have a range of sounds compared to the rest of the band. Whether it is a piercing, distinctive sound in a silent moment or a soft build-up in the background, it will always be an exciting part to listen to.’
Grace—‘I see my role as a beat-keeper, but also as a section that will always be heard individually. Sometimes, other instruments can blend with their section, but due to the many different parts we receive, and the many different instruments we have, we will always stand out.’
Sophie—‘I feel like my role as a percussionist is to be a supportive and encouraging members of the ensemble.’
What do you find is the most fun aspect of playing percussion at BGGS?
Shanae—‘The most fun part of playing percussion at BGGS is how we have a lot of freedom with how we present the songs and play with our friends. I always love the satisfaction and pride I feel when we finish playing a song in front of an audience, or even just in front of my friends since the sound is always conclusive and emotive. The sounds produced in percussion can go from a range of soft, quiet, and eerie tones all the way to fast, loud, and intense songs (both being equally as fun to learn and play).’
Grace—‘I definitely love the wide range of instruments, if you don’t like ‘hitting things’ there are hundreds of other instruments for you! If you don’t like mallets, there’s hundreds more for you, and so on.’
Sophie—‘The best part of playing percussion is being able to have fun while playing all the different instruments and joking about how weird some of them are. During band and percussion ensemble it is just fun to be there with your friends and having fun while playing the instruments you love.’
Mr Cavanough also provided us with a few thoughts on his teaching of percussion at BGGS.
In your 12 years teaching percussion at BGGS, how have you seen the scope of percussion playing evolve?
Mr Cavanough—‘Our percussionists, then and now, study instruments across the whole percussion family. The skilled multi-percussionist (musicians who learn both tuned and non-tuned/orchestral percussion instruments) is a product of 20th century composers taking creative advantage of the diverse sounds and textures available to us. We are fortunate in our school to have a full section of beautiful instruments and for our students to have the opportunity to learn and hone the skills to perform music from marimba to drum kit, triangle to timpani.
One important evolution is the opportunities available to our students. We have grown from having five to seven concert bands, three to four jazz bands, plus now Gypsy band and Celtic ensemble, and especially exciting for me, we have grown from having one to now three percussion ensembles. Students also have the opportunity to play in drum circles, chamber music groups, and Symphony Orchestra.’
In your experience, what challenges most percussion students in terms of technique and/or musicianship here at BGGS?
Mr Cavanough—‘Time. I mean this in more than one way (all percussionists like a good pun). Time to practice and keep on top of each of their pieces and instruments of focus.
Internal time—establishing and developing the ability to always count. Regardless of how difficult, polyphonic, or distracting the music gets, your musicianship must be supported by a constant mental metronome.’
What is it that energises you about teaching percussion at BGGS?
Mr Cavanough—‘Love for learning! I get to share my time with inquisitive students, lateral thinkers, challenge-seekers, and students who are not afraid to ask lots of questions, no matter how silly they seem. It is refreshing to have students who come to their lessons challenged and inspired by what their ensemble directors have given them, and then leave with an eagerness to take what they have learned to their next rehearsal.’
Thanks to those parents who helped with the Intermediate Band workshop.
Later this term, we are looking for assistance with:
- Gala Concert—Sunday 14 August
- Junior String Festival—Wednesday 7 September
We will then have our inaugural MSG Soirée early in Term 4 on Saturday 8 October—please mark your diaries now!
- Senior Strings Festival—Tuesday 26 July
- Intermediate Strings Festival—Monday 8 and Tuesday 9 August
- BGGS Gala Concert—Sunday 14 August