In This Together

In This Together

Music – a lifelong love                            

As your daughters are making their choice of Co-curricular activities for the year, there is a likelihood that a Music Ensemble will be one of the choices that is considered.  In many instances, participation in a Music Ensemble is a logical choice.  Students who undertake regular music tuition in voice or instrument are often encouraged to play or sing as part of an ensemble to further enhance their learning.  For other students, this step to participation is the first step in discovering a skill or talent that they had previously not had an opportunity to explore. 

Unlike some other Co-curricular activities, participation in a Music Ensemble requires a year-long commitment. Whilst the seasons of the year can determine changes of sport, this does not apply to Music. The development of skill and an ability for ensemble members to work together requires time.  In fact, in many instances Co-curricular Music is an extended commitment that should be concurrent with the years a student spends learning an instrument.  The participation in an ensemble is vital in helping a student to put into practice the skills acquired through individual tuition.

Aside from the obvious social element of playing in an ensemble with their peers, there are many positive attributes that can be learnt and developed from being a part of one.  Teamwork is an obvious skill that can be acquired through participation.  How else can a whole section of players learn to play a passage together in time, with the correct notes and expression?   In order to do this, players learn to listen to their desk partner, their section and the other sections of the ensemble.  Engagement with the conductor for directions and being able to follow their prompts or nuances is important too.  Players are working together towards a common goal, being a musically successful performance.

There have been many research papers written on the effects of learning a musical instrument, singing in a choir or playing a musical instrument in an ensemble. Scientists have demonstrated the positive effect on brain activity of actively playing a musical instrument.  Many studies have also shown a direct correlation between musical training and academic achievement.  Playing an instrument helps to enhance many of the brain’s functions, such as memory and abstract reasoning, which in turn are beneficial to other disciplines including Mathematics, Science and Languages.  Albert Einstein is a classic example of this!

If you were to ask any former SCEGGS students what their fondest memories of school were, many would respond with “singing in the whole school item” or “being a member of the band”.  Participation in Music Ensembles has helped students from different year groups to meet and work together.  Many of the students who played in ensembles together during their time at school have continued their relationship beyond school, despite their age or disciplines in life.  Some former students have even made Music their calling in life, with success in both the contemporary and art music scenes.  These Alumni members include:

  • Anna DOWSLEY (2005) – Opera Australia
  • Isabella MANFREDI (2005) – singer of “The Preatures”
  • Aristea MELLOS (2005) – composer
  • Veronique SERRET (1993) – violinist
  • Giselle ROSSELLI (2008) – singer/song writer/producer

and many more.

Commitment to an ensemble is vital to both ensuring musical success but also providing opportunities for students to share their music beyond the Green Gate.  Over the past year the Music Department has been able to develop relationships with local communities through the String Ensembles’ performances at RPA Hospital and Ardency Trebartha (retirement village), and the Basie Jazz Band performing at the Wayside Chapel. 

Last year, the SCEGGS Choristers contributed to a series of performances in the Gondwana World Choral Festival.  Some of the students and their families were kind enough to open their homes to the visiting choristers from Inner Mongolia who performed as part of the festival.  Students were not only sharing their music, but also acting as cultural ambassadors to our overseas visitors. Taking this further, we would like to ignite a culture of building relationships both domestically and internationally through touring at SCEGGS.  However, this is not possible if the commitment to ensembles is not 100%.  We want to show everyone who attends our performances the best of what we can do.

This year, to celebrate the School’s 125th Anniversary, the Music Department will contribute to the celebration with a concert at Sydney Town Hall. 

The concert will be a celebration of Australian women who have made a significant contribution to our history.  Some of these women may not be well known, but each have left a legacy that we would like to celebrate through a series of commissioned works.  Three of the composers that have composed the commissioned items are also former students of the school – Georgia SCOTT (2008), Aristea MELLOS and Jayne GROVES (1991).  There is no better time to be part of this musical journey.

Pauline Chow
Head of Music