Instrumental Music News

Band Performance Week

Week 5, Term 4 has been the beginning of the Band Department’s solo performances. Our Band Department uses this performance, in part, to guide student ensemble placement for the following academic year. The BGGS Band students have been preparing for this performance for the last 10 weeks. Though solo performances can be a challenging undertaking, staff are always very supportive and gentle as they guide students through their performance. Students have been required to play technical work, studies, and solos with accompaniment. These performances are like a compact version of some Australian Music Examinations Board (AMEB) exams. Our scaffolded Band curriculum is aligned with the AMEB syllabus, so students are working alongside an internationally recognised curriculum of music performance.

We are very proud of our students who ‘step up to the plate’ and take on the challenge of a solo performance regularly throughout each year. The creativity, discipline, and dedication demonstrated by these students will serve them well in their future education and working lives.

Martha Fomison (8G) during her bassoon performance

Akithra Samarakkody (7B) performing on marimba

Elise Selwa (9G) demonstrating her snare drum rudiments

Band Spring concerts

Earlier this week, the Band Department staged our Spring Concerts for 2022. The Monday evening concerts were filled with energy, excitement, and wonderful musicianship from nine of the BGGS junior and intermediate ensembles. The two Spring Concerts ran back-to-back and featured enthralling original and arranged music for concert band, jazz groups, and wind quintet.

The Wind Band and Wind Ensemble stirred the audience’s imagination with Spirit of the Wolf, while the Concert Band delivered a powerful performance of Stampede. Concert Winds energized us with a compelling performance of Seconds Out. Little Big Band got toes tapping with Elton John’s I’m Still Standing. The second concert was opened by Jazz Ensemble with a swinging version of It’s Only a Paper Moon. Chamber Winds gave the audience a refined performance of Holst’s Suite in E flat and were followed by a delightful performance by Wind Quintet who played an energetic arrangement of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Stage Band then opened with a medley of lively hits by Earth, Wind, and Fire, and the concert concluded with a rollicking performance of a blistering stage march by Wind Symphony titled Broadway!

The students have been preparing for this concert since the second half of Term 3, so it is wonderful to see the fruits of this hard work come to life for our very appreciative audiences.

Anna McAuley (11R), Alice Di Bartolo (9B) and Molly Miller (10W) warming up before taking the stage

Gemma Nell (9M) and Orli Wachtel (9B) ready to perform with Wind Symphony

Madison Beltrame (11L), Band Captain 2023, performing her duties as Master of Ceremonies

Ms Ashleigh Porter conducting Wind Band and Wind Ensemble during the ‘jump-In’ piece for family members

Little Big Band under the direction of Mrs Davidson

Jazz Ensemble raising the roof at the Band Spring Concert

Ms Nicole Tait, Sophie Lillyman (11B), MeiMei Zhang (9W), Chloe Teo (9M), and Sunnie Lin (9M) are our BGGS Wind Quintet warming up backstage before their excellent performance

Private lesson availability

As you may be aware, in addition to our group Instrumental Music tuition available at BGGS, we also offer private tuition via a wide variety of instrument and voice specialist teachers at School. Some students participate in both group and private tuition—these students largely report that both forms of tuition offer extensive benefits. Our small group tuition allows students the opportunity to work with a few of their friends to collaborate and gain experience in building a repertoire base, intonation, rhythmic stability, balancing, and blending. While private tuition allows students to receive guidance on specific and tailored techniques related to their instrument or voice, and perhaps work towards sitting an AEMB exam or similar.

Although group tuition is included in a student’s school fees, private lessons attract an additional charge and are invoiced directly by the teacher. Students can request a specific teacher or have a teacher allocated to them once enrolled. Further information, including rates and instrument-specific details, can be found in the Instrumental Music Handbook available here.

If you have any questions that are not answered in the Instrumental Music Handbook, you are welcome to contact the Instrumental Music Administration at

Mrs Anne MacAskill (bassoon, oboe, and flute) with Erin Doan (2021)

Ms Josie Pollicina (violin) with Siddhi Bhandarker (11W)

Mr Jacob Cavanough (percussion) in a lesson with Karen Sundar (2019)

MSG News

The String Spring concerts are next Tuesday 8 November. Please consider volunteering some time if your daughter is involved in these concerts—there are many girls to cater for at the BBQ, as well as a parent bar before each concert. MSG committee members will be on hand to assist. Please sign up via this link. 

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 are available. 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

As we will be providing wine and cheese at the AGM, please register your attendance here.

Balancing technical accuracy with musicality in performance

BGGS Symphony Orchestra performing at Gala—Luminescence 2022

Part of what makes a good musician is the pursuit of precision in musical performance—it is one of the personality traits that drive us forward … it motivates us to achieve ever-increasing levels of technical proficiency. However, we must never lose sight of the main reason we play music—to entertain both the audience and ourselves. I seldom hear an audience member leaving a performance saying, ‘Wow! That was an extremely accurate performance’. I often hear audience members leaving a BGGS concert exclaiming, ‘I don’t know how those students create that amount of energy—they are incredible’ or ‘I was just crying because of how beautiful that performance was’. In other words, audiences don’t remember how accurately a musician plays, but they do remember how we make them feel.

Of course, part of capturing the thrill, excitement, and enjoyment in any performance is a level of technical precision and execution. But this technical proficiency’s only purpose is to propel us towards more exciting performances. Playing music with emotion while telling a story is far more important than ticking off correct notes and rhythms. Finding this balance is part of the adventure that every musician experiences—how far down that road we travel is dependent on the individual.

It always impresses me how even our youngest ensembles create these uniquely energetic performances. Skilfully guided by our teachers and ensemble directors, a BGGS musician can reach increasing heights of musical performance. From our junior ensembles like Wind Ensemble, Elgar Strings, and Vox through to intermediate groups like Albinoni Strings, Euphonix, and Chamber Winds, culminating in our senior groups such as Symphony Orchestra, Symphonic Winds, and Chamber Singers—students continually develop and refine their musicianship. Each step along the path is crucial to a young musician’s development.

Though carefully negotiating the technical challenges in each piece of music along the pathway is important, it should be viewed as the starting point of discovering the intricacies and nuances of the music, rather than an endpoint. Each of our BGGS ensembles has a threshold, and when each student is musically ready, they will progress to the next stage. It is important to remember that every musician has something they can learn at each step on their pathway.

There are musically enriching experiences to be enjoyed at every point in a young musician’s development and we are excited to share them all with each student in every ensemble.

Mr Paul Johnston
Assistant Director of Instrumental Music


Looking Ahead

  • Band Performance Weeks (Auditions)—Week 5 and Week 6
  • Strings Spring Concert—Tuesday 8 November
  • Chamber Music and Chocolate Concerts—Wednesday 9 November
  • Music Support Group AGM—Thursday 10 November
  • Speech Day—Thursday 17 November
  • Christmas Carnival—Monday 28 November