• Musical News – 29.04.2022

    Welcome to our Music!

    Coming back from the break it is always a challenge to have a concert so early in the term. Last weekend, our Wind and Brass at the Movies concert was a triumph beyond expectations.

    This concert has not taken place since 2019 and the concert was a reminder at how good so many of our musicians are. Four ensembles, lots of performances and many of them accompanied by films being shown behind the bands. What delighted me was the sheer quality of what was being performed. Some very challenging pieces performed with a sense of pride and enjoyment. Below, you can watch most of them and see some of the images behind. Thank you to everyone as well for the amazing feedback.

    We should remember that performances such as this one are a huge team effort. Every member of every band is vital to the success that is created. Well done everyone. Be proud of what you have achieved.

    Elsewhere we have Year 3 joining our Larch ensembles as you will read below. Starting your musical ensemble journey can be very daunting, and they handled it so well. Bravo! We are preparing for Saffron Hall now on Saturday 2nd July, with some lovely concerts before hand and end of year celebrations for our musicians to perform at.

    Team Music is alive. What magical memories we are helping to create!

    Mark Taylor, Director of Music

    Our Secondary Phase...

    Congratulations!

    Congratulations to Jack E in Year 13. Before Easter, Jack took his Diploma in Performance from the London College of Music, in Trumpet. We are very proud!

    Wind & Brass: A Night at the Movies

    On Saturday, around 80 students came together to perform a variety of pieces, transporting the audience to the world of cinema, with performances from Concert Band, Junior Wind Band, Brass Ensemble and Saxidentals. All the students behaved and performed so professionally, it was a truly joyous occasion.

    Well done to al of those who were involved!

    Please find the Youtube Playlist below! Click in the top right hand corner to see all the videos...

    Saffron Sounds - Saturday 2nd July 2022

    We are well underway in preparation for Saffron Hall, full details will sent out in the next couple of weeks. Tickets will soon be available from the Saffron Hall box office.

    Our Primary Phase...

    Larch Stars

    Our Larch Stars are musicians who have been nominated by their instrumental teachers for something really good that week. Their certificate is presented in assembly. Well done to..

    • Zara N (Year 2) for remembering your brilliant bow hold
    • Alec C (Year 2) for remembering your brilliant bow hold
    • Charlie P (Year 2) for remembering your brilliant bow hold
    • Holly W (Year 6) for great work over the Easter Holidays
    • Alex H (Year 6) for great work over the Easter Holidays
    • Elliot R (Year 4) for playing so well in your lesson this week.
    • Ethan M (Year 6) for making a great start in your lessons with Mr Caldecote.

     

    Assembly Performances

    In the Larch Celebration Assemblies, we have had a wonderful performance from:

    Chloe P, in Year 6, played 'Free Farm Care' on the Cello.

    Ensemble Starters..

    We are pleased to say that our Larch Ensembles are continuing to grow! Our Year 3 musicians have joined our Woodwind and String ensembles, we are looking forward to seeing them perform! Well done for rising to the challenge! We are delighted that so many musicians are in our ensembles and choirs now in our Primary Phase.

    Music Medals & Exams

    Well done to all those who received their Music Medals/Exam Certificates this week! There were so many to hand out, it's so encouraging to see so many of our younger students progress and achieve medals and grades! Well done to all!

    Coming Up...

    Please take a look at our upcoming events, click on the links/images for more information!

  • Musical News – 01.04.2022

    Welcome to our Music!

    It does not matter which part of the school you are part of, music has been alive every day in the past few weeks. There have been so many concerts, events, exams and other musical successes that I have lost count! It could be early morning practice, after school rehearsals, an extra band practice, completing coursework, celebrating someone’s achievements. Music continues every day, all day!

    In the past couple of weeks, we have had an amazing Larch concert with over 100 musicians performing. We have had so many exams, from individual music exams to the long awaited A level recitals. Visitors always comment on how professional our musicians are and how well prepared they are. Support at home is part of that - the practice, the celebration, the support. Your support at home is crucial to the success of the musician you nurture. Never underestimate the power of taking an interest and celebrating the work, creating a positive atmosphere! Every performance is an individual achievement and we have had so many of these recently. 49 amazing exam results in the past two weeks, including so many distinctions. Our team is so proud of each result.

    Something else I am so proud of is that Team Music is a team. Coming back after the pandemic, we are working so hard to remind each other that we are a team and everyone in that team is vital. We have published our concert dates, including Saffron Hall and I do now ask that everyone required is at the concerts and rehearsals when we ask. Older students with jobs will need to plan ahead as well. If just one musician says ‘I can’t be at that rehearsal or concert’, they sometimes forget that a whole team is affected. The balance of sound in a section can change. Someone else will miss that person not there. Please check and double check dates via the link below. Rehearsals are also so important. If a musician misses some, they have not learnt the music enough and could let the performance down with wrong notes! Our team ethos stretches to everyone!

    Thank you to everyone in our team - the staff, the students, the families who support and those who come and celebrate our musicians. We have so much to celebrate every day and that is truly unique and wonderful.

    Mark Taylor, Director of Music

    Curriculum - All-Through

     

    As well as all our performance work, students have been working hard in their curriculum music lessons. GCSE and A level students are finishing compositions and preparing them for marking and submission. We had the amazing A Level Music recitals last week and Jack in Year 13 is preparing for his diploma that is being performed this week. Otherwise, exam students in Years 13 and 11 are busy revising for the listening and written papers.

    If you take a snapshot of the different units currently being learnt in KS2-3 you can see how varied the curriculum is with everything from Reggae (Y6) to Classical Theme and Variations (Y5), and 20th C Minimalism (Y8) to Musical Theatre (Y4). 

    In Reception and Year 1, we have been learning lots of songs with actions and developing our sense of pulse. We have also started to learn about rhythm and copying rhythms that we hear. We listen to music every week, and are starting to talk about how music makes us feel.

    In Year 2, we have been learning to interpret graphic scores and learning to read actual notation. We have learnt to play several songs from notation on the glockenspiel including Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and Hot Cross Buns. Again, we listen to music each week and are starting to recognise the instruments and playing techniques we can hear. With so many of the Year 2 children in the Choir or taking part in the String Training Programme, it has been a very busy term, full of music!

     

    Exam Results

    Over the last couple of weeks, we have had a variety of Instrumental Exams take place, including, Classical/Jazz Trinity, Trinity Rock & Pop, ABRSM, and even a digital!

    We are so proud of what the students have achieved, please do click on the images/links below to see the results!

    Our Secondary Phase...

    Mr Lovell's Piano Evening

    On Tuesday, we had an evening of piano! It was a great opportunity for students of all ages to come together and see others perform - it's always inspiring.

    Mr Lovell is very impressed, and we are all so proud of what they have achieved! Well done to all!

    Big Band Interviews...

    We sat down with a couple of members of Big Band, to see what their take on the last couple of weeks was. Please read what they had to say below...

    Aimee B, Year 13, Singer 

    I love performing, it’s such an adrenaline rush. Singing in front of a crowd - there is no feeling like it, it’s brilliant. Big Band evening was amazing, it had a brilliant atmosphere, it really helps having a supportive audience full of familiar faces. Performing has massively helped me with my confidence. I did a gig in August which showed me I could do it, and I felt like I really proved that to myself at Big Band evening. I love how the band comes together, Mr Taylor makes it work very well, and what we achieve is amazing. 

    Once you’re up there, in front of a live audience, you just have to get on with it, it’s like fight or flight kicks in, you just enjoy it. Even if you mess up, you carry on smiling, you can’t run away, it’s not like the audience will know. You feel so proud of yourself afterwards, like you watch someone else do it, and you think ‘I did that’. 

    I think Big Band itself is fantastic, even the rehearsals are fun, it doesn’t matter if you’re going over the same thing over and over, the group of people make it fun. We hear the pieces over and over again, but I still think they are magical, and I’m sure others would agree. Big Band Evening for me, and I’m sure for other people, was like the light of the end of the tunnel after the last couple of years.

    Gabriel D, Year 12, Trumpet 1

    I loved Big Band evenings, this was my 5th one overall. I was really pleased to see so many ex-students coming back to support us. Big Band is such an encouraging community, everyone performs together, you all support each other, and you become friends with people you may not have met otherwise. 

    When I first joined Big Band, I was on Trumpet 3, then I moved up to Trumpet 2, and this year is the first time I’ve played Trumpet 1, which is a milestone for me! I finally got to experience what I looked up to in Year 7, it was a full-circle moment!

    My favourite piece is YMCA, it’s a crowd pleaser, everyone gets to dance, even the instrumentalists get to move - it’s so entertaining. I think as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to enjoy and appreciate the music more, all of the pieces are fantastic. 

    The Big Band community is such a special aspect. Everyone is friendly, you all have something in common, and you realise you are all quite similar people, so age doesn't make a difference.

    You never really miss something until it’s gone. In the last couple of years, we’ve all missed Big Band. I think if anything, it’s to enjoy it while it lasts, and live in the moment. You can appreciate the 105 minute long rehearsals, when you see the results at a Gig. I look back at younger years now, and I’m jealous that they still have so much time left! I want to make the most of it.

    Poppy N, Year 13, Singer

    It was so nice to be performing again after COVID, it feels like we’ve waited forever! Getting to sing with a live band again is just amazing. Big Band gives such a supportive atmosphere, it’s a good vibe. I think everyone knows in the moment that it is important to support each other, even if you are nervous yourself. 

    My favourite instrumental piece has got to be ‘In the Stone’, it’s a great intro to the evening, really setting the tone. My favourite trio song is ‘Blame it on the Boogie’, it’s so feel good, everyone knows it and can join in with the dancing! My favourite solo is ‘I Will Survive’, it’s so funky, there’s such a good build up, from the piano introduction to the whole band by the end. The audience always joins in, you’re all performing together!

    I enjoy being in Big Band, you are creating the music that everyone enjoys - it’s a rewarding feeling. The rehearsals are something to look forward to in the week, everyone is in a good mood for it - you can bounce off of everyone’s energy. Big Band also creates a supportive community; you become friends with people across many different year groups, people you wouldn't have known before. There can sometimes be hierarchies in musical productions, but in Big Band, everyone is equal - I really like that. 

    Performing is what I want to do, Big Band is a great opportunity to practise this. Having this responsibility is good preparation for my career. 

    Our Primary Phase...

    Larch Stars

    Our Larch Stars are musicians who have been nominated by their instrumental teachers for something really good that week. Their certificate is presented in assembly. Well done to..

    • Rachel L (Year 4) for showing real perseverance and working so hard towards her music medal.
    • Daniel W (Year 4) for great work in lessons and for memorising all his scales
    • Isaac B (Year 4) for working hard on his Grade 1 pieces and note reading
    • Loris U (Year 3) for going above and beyond with excellent work at home
    • Francis B (Year 3) for really trying hard with his sound on his flute this week
    • Heidi N (Year 6) for excellent work in preparation for sitting her Grade 2 cello exam
    • William H (Year 3) for your determination and perseverance in preparation for sitting your copper music medal
    • Sam W (Year 6) for some fantastic piano practice and playing over the last few weeks
    • Sophie L (Year 5) for great progress being made in your Grade 1 pieces
    • Hayden B (Year 6) for a great start to Tuba playing and determination to 'get it right' with practice
    • Ava P (Year 2) for making excellent progress with the bow
    • Cara M (Year 4) for showing such motivation and dedication to practising for her Bronze medal

     

    Assembly Performances

    In the Larch Celebration Assemblies, we have had wonderful performances from:

    Gabriel D in Year 13 performed 'Feodora by Carl Czerny' on the Trumpet, it was a great opportunity for the Larch students to see an older student perform. Gabriel supports lots of the primary students, through homework and chess club.

    Orla I in Year 6 performed 'A Ballad for Frank' on the Bass Clarinet

     

    Larch Celebration Concert

    On Wednesday, over 100 students came together to perform, in ensembles and choirs, including; Strings, Woodwind & Brass, Junior and Senior Choir. It was a brilliant evening, where audience members were able to see what they had been working so hard on.

    Holly W, Year 6, Music Ambassador: 

    The ensembles that played were: The Larch Wind Band, The Larch Strings Orchestra, The Senior Choir, and The Junior Choir. I really enjoyed playing in three out of four of the ensembles, especially with the Larch Wind Band. My favourite piece that I played was probably Ghostbusters in the Larch Wind Band. I think this was a concert as good as all of the previous ones, so we are all proud of what we achieved. The highlight was probably the finale - Ghostbusters. We all got really involved in it, like shouting GHOSTBUSTERS! I also really liked the Junior Choir because the songs they sang were brilliant, and their voices were really cute!

    Henry C, Year 6, Music Ambassador

    In the concert, the brass and wind played together and the strings played. I enjoyed listening to the brass and woodwind songs that had people playing at different times. My favourite piece I played was 'Spy Movie'. Everyone cheered when Mr Taylor said spy movie but said 'awww' when it was 'Sad Movie'. My highlight was when a group of us had a solo in 'Something Inside So Strong'.

    Please click on the image/link below of everyone who performed to listen to the audio!

    Coming Up...

    Enjoy your well-deserved Easter break, and be ready for more Musical events when we return!

    Please take a look at our upcoming events, click on the links/images for more information!

  • Musical News – 18.03.2022

    Welcome to our Music!

    It has been an amazing couple of weeks with so many performances and so much music being created across our all-through school. Every musician has achieved something and has a story of triumph to tell! The Big Band evening, vocal showcase, Year 2 Strings celebration, performance assemblies, Big Band gigs, a guitar evening, Larch orchestra and choir rehearsals for the concert next Wednesday, A level recital rehearsals, preparation for the exams this week and next. So much is happening and it is fabulous that our musicians are embracing all that we have to offer. We are working hard to also ensure our musicians are involved in the decisions being made, in our new ideas and in feedback from what we have achieved. Well done to everyone.

    Mark Taylor, Director of Music

    Big Band

    Senior Choir

    Our Secondary Phase...

    Big Band..

    Over the last couple of weeks, Big Band have performed here, there and everywhere!

    Starting, of course, with our Big Band Evening. On Saturday 5th March, we were fortunate to have Big Band perform for a live audience full of friendly faces for the first time this year!

    Next, Big Band entertained the Herts for Learning Headteachers' Conference, a very fun evening had by all!

    Finally, they performed at the Mayor's Civic Dinner.

    We are so proud of how they all embraced the challenge, and adapted to the different occasions! Well done to all!

    Vocal Showcase - Saturday 12th March

    On Saturday, we had our first singing concert in 3 years! It was fantastic to see so many students involved and performing a variety of genres and pieces! From Chamber Choir, to Musical Theatre, Duets to All Choirs!

    Kitty in Year 9, who performed in multiple ensembles, said:

    I really enjoyed how every student and audience member was very supportive, I also liked how there was a variety of different songs, especially musical theatre, in the vocal showcase. I have always listened to music and sung around my house from a young age. I find it rewarding when I can master songs I have been working on or hit a note that I couldn't before. Accents help me get into character as they don't sound like me but the role I am playing. Attending acting clubs and knowing what message the song portrays helps me understand my character. 

    We are so proud of all of our performers, here is all of our choirs performing 'Fix You'.

    A Celebration of Brass

    Our wonderful Brass musicians throughout the school came together to perform last week. It was a great to see so many students of various ages take part in the evening. Listen to our Secondary Brass students with 'Highlights from La La Land'!

     

    Guitar Platform Evening

    On Thursday, Mr Niesyto's students came together to showcase a wonderful array of acoustic guitar pieces.

    Students from Year 7 to Year 13 performing solo numbers, our Guitar Workshop did their first performance, and the evening finished with our Guitar Ensemble.

    It was a brilliant evening!

    Our Primary Phase...

    Larch Stars

    Our Larch Stars are musicians who have been nominated by their instrumental teachers for something really good that week. Their certificate is presented in assembly. Well done to..

    • Ayla B (Year 3) for great progress in the last few weeks.
    • Mason Y (Year 3) for great performance in his lesson.
    • Pearl C (Year 4) for superb effort in lessons.
    • Florrie C (Year 3) for excellent work on her low note production.
    • Eloise S (Year 5) for working hard at her note reading.

    Assembly Performances

    In the Larch Celebration Assemblies, we have had wonderful performances from:

    Isabel H in Year 6 playing 'Stealth Mode' in piano.

    Ava C & Isaac B in Year 4 playing 'Shepherd Hey' on clarinet.

    A Celebration of Brass

    Our wonderful Brass musicians throughout the school came together to perform last week. It was a great opportunity for the younger students to see our older students perform, and understand where their brass journey can take them!

    Our Larch Brass musicians performed brilliantly! Please have a listen to 500 Miles!

    Year 2 Strings Training Programme Evening

    On Tuesday, our Year 2 Violinists and Cellists showcased their hard work to a live audience of their parents and carers.

    Mrs Johnson and Mrs Nunn are happy to announce they have all successfully completed their Strings Training Programme!

    Do see below a little snippet from Tuesday.

    Music Medals

    Lots of Larch Musicians across many instruments are completing their Bronze Music Medals currently.

    Coming Up...

    Please take a look at our 'What's On' page to see what is coming up!

    What’s On

     

  • Our Vocal Showcase – March 2022

    On Saturday, we had our first singing concert in 3 years! It was fantastic to see so many students involved and performing a variety of genres and pieces! From Chamber Choir, to Musical Theatre, Duets to All Choirs!

    Kitty in Year 9, who performed in multiple ensembles, said:

    I really enjoyed how every student and audience member was very supportive, I also liked how there was a variety of different songs, especially musical theatre, in the vocal showcase. I have always listened to music and sung around my house from a young age. I find it rewarding when I can master songs I have been working on or hit a note that I couldn’t before. Accents help me get into character as they don’t sound like me but the role I am playing. Attending acting clubs and knowing what message the song portrays helps me understand my character. 

    Please find the performances below:

  • Celebration of Brass – March 2022

    On Thursday, we had our wonderful Brass musicians throughout the school came together to perform last week. It was a great to see so many students of various ages take part in the evening.

    It was a brilliant opportunity for our younger players to see older students perform with the same instruments – an evening of inspiration.

    Please have a listen the a couple of snippets!

    Highlights from La La Land – arranged by Dan Taylor:

    500 Miles – Larch Brass

  • Musical news for March 2022

    Welcome to our Music!

    It is brilliant to have our music gradually returning to life, with live performances and our musicians working together. We have every year group in our school, and so for the first time amazing music taking place in both phases.

    Recently we had our first Rock Gig for two years. It was a wonderful occasion and one of such emotion for the performers and families. Watching the confidence and musicality was a joy.

     

    Elsewhere, all our ensembles are eagerly rehearsing for forthcoming concerts, details of which can be found below. This includes the Year 2 String Training Programme musicians who have been working hard on their first ever instrument (we thank our partners the Hertfordshire Music Service who have helped fund the programme), as well as some Year 13 musicians preparing for their final recitals with the visiting examiner. 36 students took a music exam in January with an 86% merit or distinction rate - each result was a personal triumph!

    With our concerts, our traditions return. The Big Band Evening, the Wind and Brass Evening, the Vocal concert and more. These traditions are important to families and the musicians - older musicians who were once younger are waiting for these concerts to return so they can have 'their' moment performing pieces they have waited their turn to do. In the Larch we are creating new traditions now that we can perform once again. Year 3 woodwind musicians were brilliant in their recent performance evening, showing families what they have achieved in just over a term. Alongside traditions, we are working to develop new ideas, new partnerships across the school, bringing together our musicians in new ways.

    Our Summer concert returns to Saffron Hall this year. Please save the date and alert everyone you know!

    Our message now to all musicians at Simon Balle is to get involved! There are so many opportunities for musicians and with commitment and hard work, amazing things will happen. As we believe

    When you're part of it, you put your heart in it

    Mark Taylor, Director of Music

    From our Secondary phase

    New Musicians

    Since September, we have had 24 Year 7s and 8s begin to learn a woodwind or brass instrument, and shortly we will invite them to join an ensemble.

    We are proud of how they have embraced this new challenge and worked so hard. Starting in a band is a big step, so we will ensure that they are supported to make the transition smooth and fun!

    Singing

    Our singers and choirs are preparing for their Vocal Showcase coming up. You can find out all the information by clicking the image below:

    We look forward to hearing what they have been working so hard on!

    Congratulations

    To Aimee in Year 13 who has gained a place at BIMM from September where she can take her love of popular music to a whole new level in her degree. Aimee is a great musician and committed to our Chamber Choir and the Big Band. Well done Aimee.

    Alby in Year 10 recently took part in The Voice Kids on ITV. Do click on this page to see what happened.

    Alby shines on the Voice Kids

    An Evening with the Simon Balle Big Band

    Is this Saturday. They are supported by Big Band 2 and it should be an amazing evening. The Big Band are then performing at a Headteacher's conference and then the Hertford Mayor's annual dinner next week, so a busy time for this group who have worked so hard to rebuild this well known group. Live music is returning!

     

    From the Larch

    Our Larch Stars

    Our Larch Stars are musicians who have been nominated by their instrumental teachers for something really good that week. Their certificate is presented in assembly. Well done to

    • Isla J in Year 2 for working extremely hard and demonstrating excellent bow hold each week
    • David B in Year 5 for continuing to make steady progress each week and always trying his best
    • Freddie U in Year 2 for making excellent progress in his cello playing, and his concentration and focus has greatly improved
    • Isabella H in Year 5 for always showing enthusiasm and working hard, even with a sprained wrist
    • Chloe A in Year 2 for excellent playing with the bow
    • Annabel H in Year 5 for excellent work over half-term towards her Grade 1
    • Amber C in Year 5 for keeping excellent time and moving between right & left hand
    • Thomas M in Year 3 for becoming more confident in his cello playing
    • Ziva H in Year 6 for fabulous work, good reading and having a positive, mature attitude
    • Harry D in Year 3 for brilliant work in his clarinet lesson
    • Renae L in Year 4 for great work at home and during lessons
    • Euan E in Year 5 for excellent work over half-term towards his Grade 1
    • Beau B in Year 5 for good note reading, and helping others within her saxophone group
    • Angus M in Year 3 for brilliant work in his clarinet lesson
    • Olly S in Year 3 for great finger position on his clarinet
    • Khush B in Year 3 for really good work on his flute sound production
    • Zach H in Year 5 for excellent work over half-term towards his Grade 1
    • Lola M in Year 6 for always trying hard in the lesson and persevering when finding something technically challenging

    Performances

    Each Friday, we have students perform a piece in the Larch Celebration Assemblies. Performing is such a great experience, and we look forward to seeing more of our students be able to do this in front of their peers.

    Ziva H in Year 6 played 'Air' on the violin, and was accompanied by Mrs Kirk.

    Consider Yourself

    In Mrs Iles' lessons, year 4 have been singing: 'Consider Yourself' from Oliver. You can listen to their hard work below:

    Brass Ensemble Rehearsals

    We are excited to say that our Larch Brass Ensemble are having a series of rehearsals in preparation for the upcoming concert: 'A Celebration of Brass'. All information can be found by clicking the image below.

    We are looking forward to hearing what they have been working on, and giving the opportunity to perform with other students throughout the school.

    Coming up

    We have lots of live music coming up. Full details can be found on our 'What's On' page

    What’s On

    Do follow us on twitter for more of our news.

  • Alby shines on the Voice Kids

    Recently, Alby in Year 10 appeared on The Voice Kids on ITV. He sat down with Miss Morgan to tell her about his experience.

    What made you apply to the Voice Kids?

    I didn’t apply myself, my Nan did it for me, she’s been really encouraging. I never would have done it, the idea of it was too scary, but once I was there I was fine. I’m glad I did it, I would do it again if I could. 

    What did you have to do to get through to televised rounds?

    There were 8-10 rounds before the ‘blind auditions’ that were televised. These were zoom call auditions, where the producers narrowed down 70,000 applicants to 40 overall. The last call back was in ITV studios in London, and we had to wait 3 weeks to find out whether we had got a blind audition - it was crazy!

    How were you in these rounds? What was it like when you were selected?

    They called my mum to tell her I had a blind audition, she was down the road at the time, she came running towards me to tell me - I was shocked, very happy though! A few weeks later, we had the first band rehearsals, I submitted in 3 songs prior to this, but they asked for 12 more! They had 5 days to decide what contestants’ sang. I originally wanted to sing ‘Turning Tables’ by Adele, but they chose ‘The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face’ - I didn’t even know the song when it was chosen! 

    My favourite song was ‘Falling’ by Harry Styles, I was jealous because my best friend got to sing this!

    Describe how it was working in the groups of other kids? How was it working with the mentors?

    It was very fun! I’ll let you in on a little secret; the mentors weren’t really there! Danny came in the most out of all of them - he watched the rehearsals on his birthday, that was fun. Our actual mentors were our vocal coaches, they were so helpful and supportive. I loved being on stage, it always looks so glamorous on TV, but we were always so chilled, one time we were even in pyjamas, it was great. It was actually a year ago yesterday that we all met each other.

    What was it like being in the semi final?

    Honestly, you don’t really think about it, you just enjoy the experience as it goes along. I really loved the experience, it was good to do it with people I liked, I liked that I got to share it with my best friend. 

    What have you learnt from being on The Voice Kids?

    My confidence has skyrocketed, a lot thanks to the vocal coaches. I have kept in contact with one of them, as I sometimes have 1-1 singing lessons. Before working with them, I was scared to belt, but now I feel like I can do so much more. I didn’t get to show as much as I can do! I wish I’d known what I know now whilst I was on the Voice!

     

    What are your ambitions now?

    From the Voice Kids, I received lots of publicity. I am currently writing my own music, I like writing by myself, I’m very precise! I have a producer, we are actually shooting a music video in the coming months, and a photoshoot too! It’s very exciting.

  • Piano Day – Thursday 25th November

    Our annual piano day returned!

    In the morning we welcomed renowned pianist Anna Markland, who delivered a Masterclass.  Anna listened to and encourage five of our most talented players, whilst our other players will had the chance to watch and learn from one of the country’s leading musicians.

    At 1.20pm, a selection of all-age players performed in an informal concert in the Library.

    Then at 6.00pm, pianists from Years 10-13 performed in a Teatime Concert featuring duet and ensemble items, as well as many special solo performances.

    Here are some other highlights from our piano team.

    Mr Lovell's view from the piano stool

    In this blog, Mr Lovell discusses the art of performance.

    The view from the piano stool can be very comfy, especially in the familiar surroundings of your own home! I grew up with a piano in the house and one day I was given the option of having lessons, or the piano would have to go. I used to sit and splash around at the keys a bit, pretending that I knew what I was doing, but I knew enough to know that I didn’t want to lose this awesome instrument. I took up the offer of lessons and never looked back. Simple stuff at first of course, I was never going to be Young Musician Of The Year and I used to get frustrated when I couldn’t get the hang of things quicker. The piano stool was a place where I felt happy. I enjoyed myself and had the satisfaction of feeling that this was something that I was improving at, even if it wasn’t always at as fast a pace as I wanted. And I loved that whilst my teacher introduced me to the wondrous music of Beethoven, Chopin and Debussy, it was also a pathway into playing the music that I was already listening to at home, like Elton John, Genesis and Kate Bush.

    The view from the stool can get a bit less cosy once the stool is elsewhere other than home: the school hall or especially the exam room! Nerves can be off-putting and make you feel like all the enjoyment has been sucked out of you. But without them, you can never focus to the point of showing yourself at your absolute best. And whilst there’s not much to beat the immersion into the joy of music to escape all the pressures of life, the one thing that’s even better is the buzz you get when you play something well and someone else is there to tell you how good it is. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a standing ovation for a prestigious recital, or whether it’s just your Mum saying, “well done, it’s getting better”, you get a glow that makes you feel good and it spurs you on to want to achieve more. I’ve been playing for over 40 years now and, I assure you, that buzz is as strong now as it’s ever been!

    So if you, like me, play the piano, why do you do it? Why did you start and what is it about this incredible instrument that keeps you going? Here are some of the responses we’ve had from our students here at Simon Balle:

    I enjoy making people happy when I play

    Playing piano puts me in a wonderland of music

    I enjoy playing the piano because it makes me forget about stressful things happening in my life

    I really enjoy playing keyboard at Simon Balle as I learn so much and have fun

    I really enjoy playing the piano, we are always having some sort of fun event or activity!!

    The opportunity to perform, to share your skills and revel in the praise that comes your way, is vital to keep us all pushing on and improving ourselves. So, let’s keep up the practice, strive to be the best we can be, but, most of all, enjoy making music and enjoy what it looks, feels and sounds like from your piano stool!

    Mr Lovell

    From Gabriel, Year 12

    The piano masterclass with Anna Markland was a huge success. This is for a plentiful number of reasons. It was very beneficial for developing our performance skills and confidence (an important aspect of musicianship) as we were given some useful tips for performing by Anna and we were playing in front of all the other pianists – a big crowd! Also, for many, it was very informative on practice methods: Anna zoomed in on specific areas of struggle and emphasised the significance of ‘slow’ practice. For me, we focused more on style and musical awareness. Anna suggested an alternative approach for using the sustaining pedal to make the texture of the music less heavy. Finally, I would like to say an immense thank you to Anna Markland for imparting her expertise and additionally to Mr Lovell for diligently organising the whole event.

    From Toby, Year 13

    I found Anna Markland’s advice and support very insightful throughout the masterclass. What was particularly useful was how it felt as though Anna was giving tips and ways to improve playing to everybody in the room, not just the player sitting at the piano. In addition, what was particularly helpful was that the advice was relevant for all of the students of varying ages and experience with the piano. Personally for me I thought that Anna was not only extremely supportive of what I was playing, but also offered some really good, constructive feedback such as how to improve my sitting position when playing, how to practice the piece more effectively at home and how to position my arms in order to play the more challenging sections of the piece with greater ease.

  • A Larch Celebration of Music – Wednesday 10th November 2021

    Wednesday 10th November 2021 - 6pm

    We are delighted that we are holding our first performance of the Autumn. The concert will feature the Larch Wind Band, Larch String Orchestra and both choirs. We are very excited that we can perform again!

    Please do not take photos or videos - we will make these officially and safely available soon after the concert.

    Programme

    Larch String Orchestra

    • Ode to Joy
    • Take your partners
    • G-Force blues

    Larch Senior Choir

    • Amazing Place
    • Speechless

    Larch Junior Choir

    • We can work together
    • Sing a song in unison

    Larch Wind Band

    • Two at Twilight
    • Movie Buster
    • Uptown Funk
    • We will rock the Larch

     

    Thank you to Mrs Johnson, Mrs Nunn, Mrs Taylor, Mrs Iles, Mr Peach, Miss Morgan and our senior music ambassadors.

    Thank you also to all our amazing families for working with us in the past months to keep music alive and keep our brilliant musicians learning. I truly believe that it is this ethos of partnership that has enabled music to continue to thrive.

    Mark Taylor, Director of Music.

  • Singing once again!

    Last year, singing was often the hardest hit, with the restrictions. Choir numbers were limited and singing was a challenge. It is therefore brilliant that our choirs are back in full force.

    We have so many amazing singers. We believe that everyone can sing, and it is great that our musicians agree! The Chamber Choir, consisting of our senior singers and musicians has regrouped and is busy working for the many school events this term, including the Remembrance service and the carol services. The senior choir is now a Vocal Showcase. The aim is that all KS4 and 5 singers can come, enjoy singing and showcase what they can achieve. All styles of songs are covered and whilst still in the first few rehearsals, there is so much talent at the rehearsals on a Wednesday. The Junior Choir also rehearses on a Wednesday and consists of so many singers in Years 7 – 9. Having this choir return with so many singers is amazing and we look forward to hearing them perform later in the term. Throughout the curriculum, throughout the school, singing is an everyday part of our music. Whether in a band, as a soloist or just for fun, singing is something that can bring joy to everyone.

    In the primary phase, we have two fabulous choirs. The Years 2- 3 choir and the Years 4 – 6 choir both sang so beautifully at the Harvest Festival at All Saints’ Church. Singing is so popular in the Larch, and Mrs Johnson’s KS1 singing assembly on a Tuesday is a delight to listen to.

    Elsewhere, singing lessons are very popular. Some of our most advanced singers in the sixth form also performed at the Harvest Festival this week and created a beautiful atmosphere with their captivating performances. We have singers with the Big Band and in Rock School and we are planning a return to singing evenings where families can celebrate in person what the musicians can achieve.

    What is lovely is the confidence that we see grow in our singers as they learn to perform, learn how to command a room and learn about connecting to the music. Performing in front of others as a soloist is, for some, a challenge. Actually doing it, standing tall and standing proud can be a huge achievement. The pride seen when they finish and take in the applause is wonderful to see. 

    The return to live performances is our aim for the year in all of our work, but especially our choirs. It will take a little time, but with perseverance and commitment, I am sure we will not be disappointed with what will be achieved.

    Mark Taylor, Director of Music