School leaders pull of performance

When three of our Heads of School – Dean Dell’Oro (Headmaster), Alex Cameron (and Head of Junior School) and Tim Simpson (Deputy Head of Junior School) – were asked to perform a violin solo with Junior School Orchestra, the general response was that whilst they didn’t think they were very musical at all, they would give it a go! We love a challenge in the Hale Music Department, so we began the process of teaching them the violin and preparing for a very special live-streamed Music Assembly performance of Guest Soloist by Richard Meyer.
 
Each Wednesday morning the 87 boys in Junior School Orchestra worked on their parts, learning how to accompany and how their music fit in with the solo lines. We ran a competition during our rehearsals to guess the names of the three soloists, and there was much excitement from the students as each week more clues were unlocked. We discovered that we knew the soloists, they had never played violin before, and they all had at least one ‘O’ in their surnames.
 
Concurrently during lunch times, the soloists learnt all the skills they needed to pull off such a feat. We learnt how to hold the violin and the bow, clapped rhythms and listened to where the solo part fit into the song. The soloists couldn’t believe the intricacy of the process, and how much knowledge all the boys need to have to play their instruments well. They learnt about concert etiquette and all the conventions of orchestral playing. At the end of each lesson, the soloists took their instruments home to practice and made great improvements.
 
During the week of the concert we rehearsed together and the boys were delighted and slightly amused to see their teachers take to the stage in rehearsal. One student couldn’t believe what he saw exclaiming, “I am surprised they have been able to learn so much, seeing as adults have plastic brains and can’t learn anything new!”
 
On Friday 12 April, the special day came and there was nervous excitement in the air. With the soloists dressed in their formal suits, looking very dapper, and the boys buzzing with anticipation, they lined up backstage ready to show what we had been working on in secret all term. The first live-streamed Music Assembly performance was underway. As soon as the soloists walked on stage we knew it was going to be a fantastic performance, and it went off without a hitch!
 
Mr Cameron said the process of learning a new instrument made him even more aware of how much time and effort the boys put into their music training.
 
“Due to my very simple part, I only attended three rehearsals, however the boys attended many.  Seeing how hard they work and the focus they display during these sessions made me realise I was a part of something very special.  It was a real privilege to join them!”
 
It is so exciting to be part of a school community where the leaders are willing to go out of their comfort zone to try something new, and it has been fantastic that the boys have seen that with hard work and practice you can achieve new things. We hope that this project will have a lasting effect on the students and encourage the younger boys when they come into the Music programme