Instrumental Music News

MSG News

Mark your diaries for our inaugural Soirée on 8 October! This event is currently being curated by the MSG and Ms Karin Schaupp. The evening will feature a number of guest performers in relaxed and intimate surroundings. Delightful refreshments and meals will be available at the Soiree while you sit back, relax, and be entertained by the talent within our vibrant musical community. This is sure to become an eagerly anticipated annual event on the School calendar. So, watch this space for further details—including ticket bookings, theme, performers, and catering in the near future!

Incoming Parent and Daughter Dinner

On Thursday 18 August, the Little Big Band students, conducted by our Acting Director of Instrumental Music, Ms Laurinda Davidson, performed at the Incoming Parent and Daughter Dinner at City Hall. This was an exciting performance opportunity for this young jazz group, and they wowed the audience with Adele’s classic, Rolling In The Deep, and Foo Fighters’, Learn To Fly.

Little Big Band on stage at Brisbane City Hall entertaining the large crowd

The beautiful setting of the City Hall main stage

Percussionistas Collective

On Sunday 21 August, our percussionists took part in the inaugural Percussionistas Collective Concert at All Hallows’ School. BGGS Percussion Ensemble 2 and Percussion Ensemble 3, under the direction of Mr Jacob Cavanough, along with the St Aidan’s Percussion Ensemble, were invited to be part of this celebration of excellence in percussion and to share the wonderful music our girls are making.

The concert involved performances from 10 percussion ensembles, including a combined item from the three schools, including their teachers, which was put together in under 20 minutes! We hope this unique event will be an ongoing highlight for our percussionists in the future.

Eileen Tseng (9H) performing at the Percussionistas Collective

Audrey Chou (7L), Shanae Sirimana (9L), Genevieve Garry (10H), Sophie Wright (9L), Grace Clothier (8O), Kayla Tran (9B) and Eileen Tseng (9H)

Mary O’Brien (7L), Lucy Peters (7E), Ajin Kyoung (9H), Elise Selwa (9G), Mikaela Armstrong (7E), Annabel Topping (7G), Lucia Milani (7M), Kizia Soriano (8O) and Ines McKeddie (7G)

Spare Gala programs available

We have a number of spare Gala—Luminescence programs from the concert last week. If students would like to collect one, you are welcome to come down to the Instrumental Music Department to do so. Please see Mrs Harper in the Instrumental Music office to get yourself a copy.

QYO Mahler Concert

On Saturday 27 August, Queensland Youth Symphony will be holding their final concert of the year at QPAC. QYS will be performing Mahler’s Symphony No. 3, featuring Mezzo-soprano Deborah Humble, the Brisbane Chorale Women’s Choir, and QYO Children’s Choir. Some of our Grammar girls will also feature in this concert. Tickets can be purchased here.

From the teaching studio

This week in ‘From the teaching studio’, we paid a visit to Ms Clare Finlayson’s teaching studio and caught up with Isabel Shorrock-Browne (12R) and Charlotte Callinan (12H) to ask them to reflect a little on their time in Instrumental Music at BGGS, and what they feel they will take away from their numerous years learning their musical craft.

What do you think will be the strongest memory of Instrumental Music you will take with you when you finish Year 12 this year?

Isabel—‘Gala! Every year has been a different, new experience, and I love all the individual memories I’ve made in the preparations leading up to the big event. Most of all, just the general thrill I get on the day and the excitement of standing on the stage as a part of such a big and fun celebration.’

Charlotte—‘The relationships I’ve made with fellow students and staff members. Over the years of participating in Instrumental Music at BGGS, I have made so many amazing friendships with others in all different years. My teachers have also supported me through regular school life in addition to my hardships during Instrumental Music at BGGS.’

Do you feel you’ve developed skills in studying Instrumental Music that will serve you well in other areas of your life outside of music performance? If so, could you give us an example?

Isabel—‘Meeting and connecting with other people. As a younger sibling, I’ve always found it easier connecting with people older than me, and music has given me a chance to meet like-minded students in younger grades. Some of my best friends at Grammar are girls who I’ve met through the Instrumental Music program, and they aren’t necessarily in my grade.’

Charlotte—‘I have gathered skills about working as an individual and as a team, as well as leading different groups of people and skill levels, which has allowed me to gain an understanding and empathetic way of interacting with those around me.’

If you could relive a single BGGS musical experience over and over again, what would it be and why?

Isabel—‘Gillies Vocal Competition 2020—it was the first time my group had all sang together, and whenever I hear Wings by Little Mix, I always get thrown back to the memory of standing together in the Gehrmann Theatre and just singing (and enjoying every moment of it!)’

Charlotte—‘Working with other schools during 2019 with Chamber Singers. During a warm-up before the concert, all the students started singing Bohemian Rhapsody in the acoustics of a Cathedral. It was a time where I truly felt connected to those around me by music.’

We took a moment to chat with Ms Finlayson about her role and contribution to Instrumental Music at BGGS.

What do you feel is the most important quality/characteristic/skill for a student to possess to enjoy success in Instrumental Music at BGGS?

Ms Finlayson—‘A willingness to try. As their teacher, I can create safe spaces to make mistakes, I can help a student to understand that wherever they are on their learning journey is a perfectly okay place to be. All I need from them is the courage to try something new.’

What gives you the greatest joy when watching the students perform?

Ms Finlayson—‘One of the privileges of my job is how long I will have a student in my care. A great majority of my students will be with me, in some way, from Year 7 to Year 12. When I watch my students perform, I am watching years of progress, not only from a technical, musical viewpoint, but from a personal growth context as well. It is the greatest joy to watch these young women discover who they are and embrace it through their music.’

When a student of yours graduates from BGGS, what lasting piece of advice would you want them to take away?

Ms Finlayson—‘There are two messages I usually give to my graduating students:

  1. Keep music in your life in some capacity. It is a lifelong skill that will bring you joy, help you through tough moments, and will take you on adventures you didn’t even know were open to you.
  2. A quote from Sir Winston Churchill that has helped me in my own life: ‘You will make all kinds of mistakes; but as long as you are generous and true and also fierce, you cannot hurt the world or even seriously distress her.’

Isabel Shorrock-Browne (12R), Charlotte Callinan (12H), Schuyler Mills (12E) and Sofia Cirino (12O), with Ms Clare Finlayson

The worlds we create (Imaginary, Reality, Perceived)

This article is a reflection on observations over many years of teaching Instrumental Music—a performance-based pursuit. It is intended to simply offer a perspective that is not always immediately obvious.

Having been involved in a Queensland Instrumental Music program for nearly 40 years as a student, a tutor, a student-teacher, and now as a full-time teacher, it has become apparent that the delivery of the program and its content has not changed a great deal in that time. What has changed substantially is the environment in which it is being delivered, the technology being used to supplement the program, and the society in which we are now delivering the program.

An Instrumental Music program is a high-performing, outcomes-based, goal-specific, Co-curricular Program operating within (or accessible by) most schools in Queensland. Many Instrumental Music Teachers will tell you that this is what we do every single day in the Instrumental Music Program. Our students’ work and achievements are on constant display throughout the year in the form of formal concerts, community performances, competitions, recruitment nights, recitals, etc.

Instrumental Music Teachers also note that children usually enter the program with the same wonderment, curiosity, and thirst for learning that we all recall experiencing when first starting as a student. I often imagined myself as a music star up on stage playing to an audience of thousands of adoring fans. When it was perhaps 100 parents who were sometimes only there to see and hear their child perform rather than me. But that didn’t matter—as a band, we had prepared, we had an audience, and they were all about to hear the best rendition of Three Blind Mice they ever did witness.

It is not unusual that young people can operate in two different worlds (imaginary vs. reality). This is nothing new and is very important for creativity and fun. It also contributes towards crafting the person they become.

What is changing for young people is that the delineation between imaginary and reality is potentially becoming quite blurred by the rapidly developing desired ‘perception’ to portray to the outside world. This portrayal can become front and centre for them with the rise of social media and virtual communication. Young people can create a perception of themselves to the outside world of anyone or anything they can create in their minds. This is an exciting time to be learning and developing as a young person.

The conflict that exists for some young people within Instrumental Music is that the ‘perceived’ world doesn’t exist. The ‘reality’ of public performances, assessments, recitals, etcetera is our proving ground. When a performance goes awry, there is nowhere to hide in front of an audience. Therein lies the excitement and thrill of live performance.

Learning to play a musical instrument can help develop skills like goal setting, time management, self-discipline, resilience, and tenacity. All of which are prized attributes in most fields of endeavour. But all of these skills develop over time and cannot be manufactured. An interesting phenomenon is that Instrumental Music is classified as extra-curricular or co-curricular, when it encourages and fosters many of the attributes necessary for success in curricular subjects.

So, a student can put forward the perception of being well-rehearsed, prepared, and/or confident, but this perception can occasionally come undone when the time to perform arrives. As adults, we can appreciate the challenges associated with this type of situation. How many of us are genuinely comfortable with public speaking; consistently putting our work on display for others to judge; or, talking face-to-face about a difficult topic?

In Instrumental Music, we always aim to let students know that when they try their best, they are safe, it is okay to make mistakes, and regardless of the outcome, the process they have undertaken to get to the point of performance is the really important work.

The ‘imaginary’ world is crucial to creativity and ideas. The ‘perceived’ world is a fun place in which to live for short periods of time, but the ‘real’ world is where all the work and achievement takes place.

Mr Paul Johnston
Assistant Director of Instrumental Music

Looking ahead

  • Junior Strings Festival—Tuesday 6 and Wednesday 7 September
  • MSG Meeting—Wednesday 5 October
  • Music Parents Soiree—Saturday 8 October
  • Year 12 Farewell—Tuesday 11 October
  • New Year 7 Auditions—Friday 28 and Saturday 29 October