Instrumental Music News

Vermilion High original song competition

Earlier in the year, we brought you the news of the great success of some of our student composers. One of those composers was Schuyler (Sky) Mills (12E), who, along with Eve McGrath (8E), Mia Ludlow (11W), and Freya Smith (11E), decided to enter a competition run by QUT Creative Industries called Vermilion High. This program offers successful applicants from secondary schools the opportunity to workshop, record, and produce their song in QUT’s state-of-the-art recording facilities. Our BGGS students were among the successful applicants in 2022 and Sky offered us her reflection on the experience:

‘The Vermilion High Program is an initiative within QUT, that works with secondary school students on their original song compositions. Being part of Vermilion High this year was an incredible experience for me and for everyone involved. According to the staff at Vermilion, the few winning artists were chosen from hundreds of applicants who submitted their songs for consideration.

From there, the other winners and I got to meet with producers, photographers, and the marketing team to debrief on what kind of sound we were looking for, and what kind of image we wanted for ourselves as artists. The staff members, students at QUT themselves, were very supportive and creative when it came to us establishing our artist labels.

It was really eye-opening to be able to record in a real studio with high-quality production software and synthesizers. Working in a professional environment such as this really took my song to the next level, as well as providing me with learning experiences and new ideas. Turning our music from simple piano lines into a fully produced track was a dream come true for me and the other artists.

We performed our original songs in La Boite Roundhouse Theatre in Kelvin Grove in front of friends, family, and a large audience, giving us the opportunity to step out of our comfort zones and showcase our work to the public. I’m thankful for the opportunities offered to us during the program—as young artists, we were given confidence and hope for future musical endeavours. It was incredible to work and perform with other talented artists around our age, who all shared a passion for songwriting and performing on stage’.

We extend our congratulations to Sky, Eve, Mia, and Freya and their wonderful Curriculum Music teachers at BGGS who inspire them to reach for their very best!

Schuyler Mills (12E) performing on stage at the La Boite Roundhouse Theatre

Mr Andrew Pennay, Mr Michael McGrath, and Schuyler Mills (12E) at the Vermilion event

MSG News

Our AGM is approaching on 10 November, and we are looking for a few more people to join our committee for 2023. Being on the MSG committee is a great way for parents to get involved with the Music Department, as we work closely with the staff to assist them in any way we can. Your commitment will be two meetings per term, along with representing the MSG at events when you can. While most of our committee is continuing next year, we are specifically seeking a Treasurer. This role is not an onerous one, as our accounts are managed by the School. If you are interested in any MSG role, please contact us via email at

We are looking forward to the many Term 4 events, including:

  • Year 12 Farewell on 11 October—it would be great to see Year 11 parents assisting in serving on the bar after the formalities. Please sign up at
  • Spring Concerts on 31 October (Band) and 8 November (Strings)—we will need a number of volunteers to cater for these large events and sign-up links will be sent with the event memos shortly
  • AGM—10 November 6 pm
  • Carols—28 November.

Unfortunately, our inaugural Soiree, scheduled for this Saturday 8 October, had to be cancelled. We are looking at options for incorporating the planned staff performances into an event early in 2023—stay tuned!

AHEP and SHEP students

Over the school holidays, 15 of our BGGS Instrumental Music students were selected to participate in one of two Honours ensemble programs at the Queensland Conservatorium. The Australian Honours Ensemble Program (AHEP) and the State Honours Ensemble Program (SHEP) are two of Australia’s most prestigious music events for school-aged musicians. It is quite a privilege to have our School represented at these programs by so many of our wonderfully talented students. At AHEP and SHEP, students worked with some of Australia’s foremost musicians, clinicians, and conductors, culminating in a series of concerts at their conclusion.

Our students who represented BGGS at AHEP were:

  • Emily Chang (7O), Bella Cheng (9B), Pascal Green (12G), Michelle Jeong (12W), Aurora Lin (7B), Isabella Peters (12E), and Lisa Walsham (10R).

Our students who represented BGGS at SHEP were:

  • Margaret Barrett-Beck (9W), Alyssa Godinho (10B), Samara Kohn (12L), Dorothy Rae (10G), Orli Wachtel (9B), Cate Ward (9B), and MeiMei Zhang (9W).

We are very proud of the students’ achievements and their involvement in AHEP and SHEP. Thank you to our Instrumental Music staff who are all pivotal to the development and achievement of our students.

Bella Cheng (9B) and Michelle Jeong (12W) on stage at AHEP

Samara Kohn (12L), Lisa Walsham (10R), Bella Cheng (9B), Isabella Peters (12E), and Aurora Lin (7B)

Talent search

We are looking for talented students who may have an interest in playing or finding out more about, one of the more important and rare instruments. We are specifically looking for students who may be interested in discovering more about the Tuba, Double Bass, Viola, or Euphonium. Maybe you are currently playing another instrument and want to accelerate your way through our ensemble structure by playing one of these rarer instruments. Perhaps you’re a Trumpet player with braces and would like a similar instrument that is less taxing on the embouchure. Or maybe you just want to be like the cool kids and play an instrument that few others can.

Whatever your reasoning, we would love to meet you to talk through it all. Please see Ms Porter, Mr Zorzetto, or Mr Johnston to find out more.

Jessica Allinson (7B) performing on the Euphonium

Dorothy Rae (10G) with Mrs Kerry Nian rehearsing on the Tuba

Year 12 farewell

Each year, we say thank you and bid a fond farewell to our Year 12 Instrumental Music students in a special evening celebration at BGGS. This year, on Tuesday 11 October, we will have the opportunity to extend our deep gratitude and best wishes to our wonderful 2022 Year 12 girls. It is a bitter-sweet moment when we look across the room at all the students who have made such a long and lasting commitment to their music education at BGGS. It is an evening where we look back fondly at their first steps inside our School, their progression over the years, and their triumphant final moments with us at BGGS. We hope that all our Year 12 students and their families can attend this evening with us. Invitations to the Year 12 Parent Cocktail reception have been distributed this week. Please contact the Instrumental Music Administration Office if you would like further information.

The graduating class of Year 12 Instrumental Music students for 2022

Our 2022 Music Captains: Pascal Green (12G); Maddy Khoo (12E); and Sally Grice (12E)

Getting back into a home practice routine

Following a holiday break, it can be a little jarring to re-establish regular routines. One of the more challenging elements of Instrumental Music is the requirement for consistent home practice. The ability of a young student to sit alone and consistently attempt to master difficult techniques is not always an innate personality trait. Tackling technical or musical challenges can be frustrating for a developing musician, so it is important to have a thorough and targeted routine in place to make the endeavour more fruitful. Below you will find a few thoughts surrounding home practice that you may find useful.

  • Frustration can be a powerful de-motivator. Try to keep the atmosphere light and fun by breaking difficult musical passages down into smaller, more manageable pieces and then putting them back together (like a jigsaw puzzle)
  • Success is a powerful motivator. Even the smallest success leads to small motivation which can snowball if the student gets on a roll
  • The most effective and meaningful rewards a human can receive are intrinsic. The knowledge, and associated great feeling, that you overcame an obstacle is better than any external reward you could be offered
  • Young people usually experience great difficulty recognising the small successes they are achieving. Understanding and acknowledging that you’ve done a great job in your practice session can help you be more inclined or motivated at the next practice session
  • Home Practice needs to be a normalised part of a student’s weekly routine. Instrumental Music practice should be set into the weekly schedule on a regular basis, like any other activity. Students don’t ‘get time to practise’ they need to ‘set time to practise’.

In many cases, Music students desperately want to be able to ‘play the song’ which can lead to premature attempts at playing when they are not quite ready. Following the practice tips below can seem time-consuming initially but, overall, save time and frustration.

Some points to make about quality home practice habits include:

  • the key to quality practice is not necessarily in how long each practice session is but, rather, how frequently each week a student practises. For example, 4-5 days of 15-20 minutes each practice is far more beneficial than one day of practice for two hours
  • each practice session should be in a distraction-free environment where a young person can focus on relatively complex tasks
  • each practice session should be organised and methodical with a clear goal in mind. Homework or goals for the following lesson are set at each Instrumental Music lesson—this is the goal for the whole week. The practice session could consist of a warm-up, rhythm clapping, theory study, note reading and/or finger/slide practise or rudiments (percussion), homework songs, band/ensemble music, warm-down (gentle, long tones for Brass). An important point is that practising doesn’t necessarily have to be solely ‘playing the song’
  • generally, accurately playing the rhythm is more desirable than ‘getting the notes right’ in the early stages.

A wonderful, short TED video about how to practice effectively can be found here.

As the great American operatic soprano, Beverley Sills, states, ‘There are no shortcuts to any place worth going’.

Mr Paul Johnston
Assistant Director of Instrumental Music

Looking Ahead

  • BGS Sing and Swing—Sunday 16 October
  • Year 12 Farewell—Tuesday 11 October
  • New Year 7 Auditions—Friday 28 and Saturday 29 October
  • Band Spring Concerts—Monday 31 October
  • Band Performance Weeks (Auditions)—Week 5 and Week 6
  • Strings Spring Concert—Tuesday 8 November