Music kept alive for GHS pupils during lockdown

One of the consequences of lockdown was that the Upper Sixth were not able to leave on a musical high, as the G Live Concert was cancelled three days before we were due to perform Mozart’s Requiem and Orff’s Carmina Burana with the combined forces of 450 performers from GHS, RGS and the Parents’ Choir. Lockdown also meant we lost the Lower School Concert in March, when we had very much looked forward to hearing music from ‘Wicked’ with the choirs and a one-off band. For the Upper Sixth, a year group of so many outstanding musicians, their disappointment was further compounded with the loss of the May Concert for the bands and orchestras (when Sophie Kauer would have performed the first movement of Haydn’s Cello Concerto with the Chamber Orchestra), as well as the July Croatia Tour. To the leavers, we wish you every success and happiness for the future. Thank you for your fantastic involvement in school music. You will be missed but keep playing and singing next year!

Live rehearsals, where musicians can hear others and perform with them in time, is impossible via video conferencing. (Dragon’s Den, anyone?!) This is a world-wide frustration for musicians because of the wifi lag (or latency) issue. However, we have been delighted with the response to the creation of virtual ensembles from pupils and the wider school community. The process is this: the pupils are sent a pdf copy of the music as well as a piano accompaniment or backing track, or a video of one of the teachers conducting the piece. The pupils then record themselves at home on one device whilst, at the same time and wearing headphones, using another device to listen to the given backing track/accompaniment, or to watch the conductor: this ensures each pupil sings/plays in time. After saving and uploading their solo recording to OneDrive and emailing the link to the teachers, my colleagues and I have been able to build up the sounds by multitracking the audio recordings, mixing and balancing tracks to create a virtual ensemble. It has been wonderful to hear and see the pupils continue with their singing and playing this term, and the final mix for each virtual ensemble is superb! We are also extremely grateful to Miss Elliott for putting the videos together.

The final videos of the performances have all been shared with the those who took part and some have been posted on the GHS YouTube channel. It has also been wonderful to put together an online concert of solo pieces, performed from the living rooms of some of our Music Scholars and Exhibitioners. Bravo, GHS musicians!

Mr Grayson Jones