Music at MGS during the pandemic

Posted on: July 30th 2021School News

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The lockdown periods inevitably presented huge challenges for those boys learning instruments or practicing their singing with our visiting music teachers, but staff and pupils adapted to lessons online.

As music is such a popular and core part of life here at MGS,  every effort was made to ensure boys could continue to enjoy their music and learn their instruments safely once school reopened in September 2020. The Music Department was adapted so that designated rooms accommodated year group bubbles, ensuring bubbles did not mix. Even the music staff room was repurposed as a secure teaching room. Windows and doors remained open to increase ventilation, and temporary plastic screens were installed to separate boys, whilst playing, during individual instrumental lessons. For high touch areas, such as pianos and music stands, and other school instruments, wipes were provided to ensure the equipment was sanitised before being used by another pupil. More than 500 music lessons were taught each week, with 27 Visiting Music Teachers teaching 20 different instruments.

Co-curricular music groups were also divided into secure year group bubbles so that we could continue to offer something for every boy. Despite the challenges, the Music Department organised 25 Senior School co-curricular activities for bubbles every week. Face-to-face ABRSM and Trinity (Drum Kit) examinations continued, with more than 200 entries this academic year. ABRSM also started online performance exams where video performances were graded.

Whilst we were sadly unable to invite parents and supporters into our Memorial Hall for our traditional range of concerts, the Department was keen to ensure parents did not miss out, and so performances by boys – including a Christmas montage and Junior School concerts performed without an audience – were filmed and videos made available to parents. Our Turn Up, Tune Up band, consisting of boys in Year 11, also recorded a video of a medley of popular Christmas songs for the Manchester Carols in the City, in support of Royal Manchester Children's Hospital.

In the Summer Term, and with the advent of better weather, an open-air concert was held in the Quad.

Other notable individual highlights include:

  • Brothers Joe and Jake Butler-Smith, in Years 11 and 9 respectively, were both accepted into the National Youth Music Theatre company for 2021. This is a fantastic achievement for both Joe and Jake, and we are very much looking forward to hearing them perform with the company.
  • Musician Marc Wang, in Year 9, gained a distinction in Grade 8 clarinet and also won a place in the National Youth Orchestra's Inspire Programme - impressive achievements for someone aged just 14.
  • Adam Spry, 15, was one of just five young musicians in the UK shortlisted as a finalist in the 2021 NCEM Young Composers Award. His piece was then recorded and performed by a professional quartet to a panel of judges, which was a great experience for this talented young composer.