• Musical News – December 2023

    What an amazing term it has been! Full of music and celebration!

    Thank you for all of the ongoing support - communicating with us, celebrating our concerts, celebrating your students, following along with us on this journey! You are a valued part of Team Music!

    Merry Christmas from Team Music, and we'll see you in 2024 for much more music!

    Secondary Carol Service

    Featuring the Simon Balle Concert Band, Senior Strings, Secondary Choir, Chamber Choir and Saxidentals.

    The Simon Balle Community were lucky to enjoy Carol Services featuring Secondary Musicians this week - what a way to count down to Christmas!

    Secondary musicians performed fantastically, what a way to finish 2023.


    Click in the top right corner for more videos

    Larch Carol Service

    On Tuesday Evening, we enjoyed our Primary Carol Service, featuring the Larch String Orchestra, Larch Wind and Brass Ensemble, Year 2-3 Choir & Year 4-6 Choir.

    It was incredible to see so many Primary students involved and celebrated!

    We look forward to more Larch Music Celebration in 2024!

    Singing Recital Evening

    On Wednesday, we enjoyed performances from Ms Kemp's students!

    It was a brilliant evening of plenty variety from musical theatre to metal to pop!

    Please enjoy the videos here -

    Click in the top right corner for more videos

    Take Note: Winter Celebration

    Take Note held their annual Winter Celebration on Saturday to start off the Christmas period, it was an incredible evening with a variety of music, and of course mince pies!

    To find out more about Take Note - please click here for this link.

    Our Spring Term dates can be found here:

    We are on Instagram
    Very cool to see Ghent Festival using Simon Balle Big Band as their cover picture!

An incredible Big Band set from back in 2018! Can’t wait to get brilliant photos this year!

@simon_balle_school @gfstbaafs
    OUR favourite things!

Just before half term, year 4 were focusing on Singing in class with Mr Dear!

Have a listen to a snippet of ‘My Favourite Things’!

#music #singing #musiccurriculum #education #simonballemusic #simonballeallthroughschool #hertfordshire #teammusic
  • Musical News – November 2023

    Wow and wow!!

    At Simon Balle, we are so proud of what our musicians achieve, day after day. We have had so many amazing performances and moments of celebration in recent weeks across all of our music. Increasingly across the country in many schools, music is in decline. At Simon Balle, I am continually reminded what music means to our students, families and community, both in school and in the wider area. Everyone in Team Music is part of this. The recent performances and events have been nothing short of incredible. We have much more to come.

    With Christmas around the corner, so are the Carol Services. Details are below, and please put these in your diaries. They are amazing occasions and this year should be even better! I look forward to seeing many of you there, at All Saints' Church.

    Finally, we are on Instagram, curating pictures and videos to celebrate our amazing musicians. Please follow us, like and share. Why should we keep everything achieved to ourselves?!!


    Enjoy the music. Team Music!

    Mark Taylor, Director of Music.


    Update in the Larch Phase

    It has been fantastic to introduce performances in the Larch KS1 Singing Assembly and KS2 Celebration Assembly. Both Secondary and Larch students have been involved, playing as classes enter the hall. This is an excellent platform for the students allowing them the opportunity to showcase some of the super learning, and hard work that has been going on in their instrumental lessons.

    KS1 have also been lucky enough to have a performance from the Year 2-3 choir. They heard 2 songs performed by the choir. 

    As part of the Celebration Assembly, some of our Larch musicians receive a Larch Star certificate. They are nominated by their instrumental teaching or by Mrs Johnson for an excellent performance in assembly. Our Larch Stars for November are:

    Felix WB, Angus M, Felix G, Harry D, Stanley H, Alba W, Emelia M, Alexa T, Jack C, Alec C, Aluna S, Lewis E, Chloe A, Isla J, Marnie W, Mimi T-B, Mason Y, Loris U, Valentina M, Dominic K, Orson B, Isabella C and Evie B! Well done to all


    PIANO DAY 2023

    In November, we celebrated Piano Day! Mr Lovell worked tirelessly to ensure all of his students celebrated Piano Day in one way or another, whether this was a performance in the Library at Lunchtime, a performance as part of his Recital Evening, or a video filmed in lessons. 57 pianists took part during the day. Incredible.

    It was a brilliant occasion, and we look forward to it again next year!

    For now, please enjoy the videos filmed for Piano Day, along with a wonderful variety of performances from the recital evening!



    Click the top corner to see the other videos

    George & Lucas – Bike Blues

    Seren & Sophie – Simplicity

    A Larch Celebration of Music

    Joint Choir Item Under the Sea
    Year 2-3 Choir Sing a Song in Unison
    Year 4-6 Choir Make Your Own Kind of MusicHow far I’ll go - featuring olos from Eva & Toby
    Larch String Orchestra Time to TangoSword Dance

    Drunken Sailor

    Larch Wind & Brass Shake it offShepherd’s Hey

    Brain Stew


    On Thursday, I played the piano at the Celebration of Larch Music. I was slightly nervous as I've never played in front of a crowd on my own before, but I knew I could do it as I practised the piece enough times. My highlight was how proud I felt when I finished playing. It was a great experience and I don't think I'll be as nervous next time!

    Valentina, Year 5

    A Celebration of Singing & Secondary Strings

    On Wednesday, we celebrated our Singing & Secondary Strings.

    There was a variety of performances from James Bond Theme by Senior Strings, Billie Eilish by Chamber Choir and a Hairspray number by Secondary Choir!

    Performing can be a daunting experience, and all the students performing here did exceptionally well! They should be really proud!

    You can watch the videos from the evening here -

    As a member of the cello section in the orchestra, the highlight for me was performing the iconic James Bond theme. Each musician contributed to the symphony of sound, creating an incredible atmosphere. The collective effort of everyone involved made the performance truly remarkable, leaving a lasting impression on both performers and the audience alike.

    Chloe, Year 8


    Click the top corner for the other videos

    I was very nervous on the day. I had a solo in the secondary choir. I sang the first verse in the song ‘Somewhere Only We Know’ and I loved the song. I feel it went well and my family told me I did a great job. My favourite part was when I was handed the microphone and I knew I was ready to sing. I was terrified but when it came I was fine and I really enjoyed it and recommend an experience like this.

    Hazel, Year 7

    A Celebration of Wind & Brass

    On Monday, we celebrated Wind & Brass. With performances from Junior Wind Band, Brass Ensemble, Concert Band, Saxidentals and the all new JSAX!

    It was a fantastic evening of music, you can watch the videos here. Well done to everyone.


    Click the top corner for the other videos

    Rock School Live!

    On Tuesday evening, we enjoyed performances from 14 bands! What a variety of songs! All performed to such a high standard! We are so proud of the performers and amazing audience.

    Enjoy the videos here!


    Click the top corner for the other videos

    Big Band at Hertford Lights

    On Friday, the Simon Balle Big Band performed at the Hertford Christmas Gala!

    It is always a brilliant performance, and this year was no different! Thank you to everyone in our community who came to watch and support.


    Secondary Carol Service 2023

    Please click on the below image for more details.

    Larch Carol Service 2023

    Please click the image for more details

    Please check out our What's On page for details of our upcoming events!

    Follow us on Instagram

    We are on Instagram
    Very cool to see Ghent Festival using Simon Balle Big Band as their cover picture!

An incredible Big Band set from back in 2018! Can’t wait to get brilliant photos this year!

@simon_balle_school @gfstbaafs
    OUR favourite things!

Just before half term, year 4 were focusing on Singing in class with Mr Dear!

Have a listen to a snippet of ‘My Favourite Things’!

#music #singing #musiccurriculum #education #simonballemusic #simonballeallthroughschool #hertfordshire #teammusic
  • Musical News – September 2023

    Welcome Back!

    The start of a school year is always one of reflection. Those who have left our immediate musical family, those who are moving up, perhaps realising a long held ambition to have 'their turn'.

    It is always amazing how our musicians 'step up'. Take on new challenges, fill gaps in ensembles and adapt to still be part of Team Music. More news on this below, but how our musicians are adapting is brilliant.

    I'm also over the moon with how everyone is embracing Practice Pal Music. Over time, this will make life so much easier for all, bringing together information and learning for our instrumental and vocal lessons. It is early days, but the feedback has been brilliant. Thank you. We will be using more features in the coming weeks.

    I am also working on new projects and musical opportunities across our work. Details to come as I work them out with the team!

    Please have a read of the rest of this newsletter and put the relevant calendar concert dates in your diaries. There is so much going on, so don't miss out!

    Mark Taylor,
    Director of Music

    Ghent 2023

    An incredible time was had by all in Ghent last July, with amazing concerts, amazing team work, an amazing Hertford and international audience and inspirational performances and music. We are booking for next year. I'll leave the pictures to do the talking. What an experience. (the last picture is of the crowd. 90 minutes before, the square was empty due to torrential rain that interrupted our concert.....)

    Celebrating our Musicians!

    In June and July, Team Music enjoyed 6 days of musical exams for students throughout the All-through community, from Year 2 - Year 13 with Trinity Classical, Trinity Rock & Pop and Musical Theatre exams. Well over 200 exams in 6 days.

    Further to this, 8 Year 12 & Year 13 students achieved diplomas:

    DipLCM - Gabriel and Ciara  (piano), Sam Portas (drums), Ada (popular vocals), Patrick and Jacob (classical saxophone),  - Daniil, (Jazz saxophone).

    ALCM - Luke. Saxophone - the music of Charlie Parker. The hardest diploma we have ever had at Simon Balle. We’ve had a few! Luke’s level of musicianship was off the scale.

    As part of these diplomas, our musicians have performed at the most challenging standard for their age. Charlie Parker, Bebop, Dave Weckl, Beethoven, Bach, Debussy, Philip Glass, french saxophone repertoire and much more. Eight Simon Balle musicians performing at an incredible professional standard.

    It is such an achievement taking a Music Exam, and every student rose to the challenge. We are so proud of them, for some it is the beginning of the musical journey, and for others it is a fantastic way to complete their Simon Balle All-Through Journey. Well done to all.

    Click the image below to see the results!

    Learning a second instrument

    We are putting together a project for students to pick up a second instrument - one that might fill in a gap in our ensembles. In return for an instrument and some lessons getting going, musicians commit to getting involved, weekly. Particularly for pianists, drummers and so on. Music is so much about being with others, taking part. If you are interested, get in touch.

    Enjoy our Past Musical Events from this year below!


    Past Musical Events

    Keep an eye on our What's On page!

    It has important dates for the year.

    What’s On

  • Musical News – July 2023

    Our Magnificent Musical Community!

    The past few weeks have shown how amazing our musical community is. Musicians, staff and families. It is unique, it is special, it is humbling, it is amazing. The images below, one from Saffron Hall, one from Ghent, are examples. In Ghent, thousands enjoyed and celebrated our music, your musicians.

    When you are part of it, you put your heart in it.

    How true.

    Enjoy your summer and 'thank you for the music'.
    Mark Taylor,
    Director of Music

    Saffron Hall 2023

     A unique, special moment in the history of our school that concluded with a standing ovation for Alison. Pictures will be added shortly and one is attached here.
    250 musicians. 500 in the audience. A concert hall literally bouncing with the amazing music that our musicians - students at Simon Balle from Years 2 - 13, plus our adult choir - created.



    At Saffron Hall, I sang three songs with Chamber Choir, which I really enjoyed. Tides was my favourite song to sing; I loved how upbeat and positive it was, and the buzzing atmosphere at Saffron under the stage lights elevated the piece even more. As a whole, I thought the Chamber Choir pieces went really well. Ave Maria was particularly tricky, but singing at Saffron made me feel more confident and excited to sing such fantastic pieces. The highlight of the evening for me has to be singing a solo in When I Grow Up with all the choirs and the Larch orchestra. Especially as I was so nervous, looking behind me to see such a wonderful group of performers made me feel confident and proud to be there. It was an incredibly special moment to sing in front of so many people as part of such an amazing musical community. 
    Sophie, Year 12

    Listen to Saffron here!

    I enjoyed performing in both the Senior Choir and Strings Ensemble for the Simon Balle musical Summer Showcase at Saffron Hall.
    The atmosphere was incredible and seeing the audience enjoy the performances really made the months of practice worth it. 
    Performing When I Grow Up was very special because I first sang this piece when I was in Year 2. It was one of the first times the choirs sang as an all-through. This time at Saffron Hall, I was able to perform as a secondary student alongside Larch. 
    I especially liked the end of the showcase when Mrs Saunders danced bare foot on the stage!
    Everyone was up on their feet joining in. 
    I can’t wait to do it all again!
    Summer, Year 7

    8 Diplomas - University Level recitals

    I am delighted and proud to announce that eight Year 12/13 musicians have achieved a diploma in music.

    DipLCM - Gabriel and Ciara  (piano), Sam Portas (drums), Ada (popular vocals), Patrick and Jacob (classical saxophone),  - Daniil, (Jazz saxophone).

    ALCM - Luke. Saxophone - the music of Charlie Parker. The hardest diploma we have ever had at Simon Balle. We’ve had a few! Luke’s level of musicianship was off the scale.

    As part of these diplomas, our musicians have performed at the most challenging standard for their age. Charlie Parker, Bebop, Dave Weckl, Beethoven, Bach, Debussy, Philip Glass, french saxophone repertoire and much more. Eight Simon Balle musicians performing at an incredible professional standard. I can't state enough the level of achievement for these musicians. What I do know is that they could only have achieved this at Simon Balle - the distinct ethos, the time provided for us to get it right and the inspiration created throughout our work. This is something to shout from the rooftops.

    Music Tour to Ghent

    Our Concert Band, Saxidentals and Big Band have been away on Music Tour! They have performed in a variety of places. from Dunkirk to Ostend to Ghent's main stage!

    This was our first return to Ghent since 2019, so it was brilliant to be back! Please enjoy the videos of our performances:

    A Celebration of Alison Saunders

    On Wednesday, staff gathered to celebrate Mrs Saunders' time at Simon Balle.

    Big Band provided musical entertainment - please see the images >

    It was a lovely way to finish the term and celebrate Alison.

    Goodbye to our Year 13 Ambassadors!

    It is time to say goodbye to our Year 13 Music Ambassadors; Jacob, Luke & Patrick.

    Over the last couple of years, they have assisted many supervised practices, supported numerous Larch musicians in ensembles and set up for countless events.

    They have played a crucial part in Team Music, and we couldn't have done it without them. We are very proud of them!

    We wish them the best of luck in September!

    A Reminder for Larch families!

    Use this link to see our Teaching & Ensemble weeks for next year - https://www.simonballe.herts.sch.uk/music/in-the-larch/

    Please keep a note of these dates. See you in September!


    Thank you for your support this year, we will see you again in September!

    Enjoy our Past Musical Events from this year below!


    Past Musical Events

    Keep an eye on our What's On page!

    We will be updating this, ready for the new year!

    What’s On

  • Musical News – June 2023

    What a musical time!

    Within Simon Balle Music, we try to continually celebrate each individual. With so many musicians performing and playing at the moment, this is quite hard. However, every musician and every family has a story and we are so proud that music is part of the lives of student after student at Simon Balle. I have said it before and I'll say it again, what we have is unique.
    This newsletter is rammed with amazing examples of the work of Team Music - the musicians, those at home and our amazing team in school. It is a huge team effort, and I am so proud of what each and every musician achieves.
    Details of our charges from 1st September 2023 can be found here. I am again proud of the value we provide and how our teachers go the extra mile for each student. It is so amazing that our musical community continues to grow and excel for each musician.
    There is even more music coming up to celebrate before the end of term. We look forward to seeing you at the events!
    Mark Taylor, Director of Music

    Y8 Minimalism in Class

    Y8 have been learning about Minimalism in Popular Culture. They have listened to a wide range of minimalist pieces, and have composed a piece for one of the following briefs:

    1) Compose a minimalist piece as the opening credits for a Spy Thriller
    2) Compose a minimalist piece to be the Theme Music of a Wildlife Documentary
    3) Compose a minimalist piece for a MacDonald's advert.

    Year 6 & 7 Piano Evening

    On Tuesday, Mrs Iles' and Mr Lovell's Year 6 & 7 students came together to perform what they have been working on in their lessons.

    It was an opportunity to move outside their comfort zone and perform to an audience of families and peers. All students performed brilliantly, and they should be very proud of themselves.

    Watch the performances here:

    Videos from the Evening- click the top right hand corner to see the whole playlist

    Ms Fitch's Singing Evening

    On Wednesday, we enjoyed performances from Ms Fitch's students. From Year 7 all the way to Year 12, it was wonderful to see so many students along with so many families to support. The students should be really proud, their performances were stunning!

    Watch the videos here:

    Videos from the Evening- click the top right hand corner to see the whole playlist

    Year 4, 5 & 6 Strings Celebration

    On Tuesday, we celebrated our Year 4, 5 & 6 String players. They performed solos or in small groups to a live audience filled with familiar faces.

    Performing can be a really daunting experience, but the students did a fantastic job!

    Audio from the Evening

    Year 8 & 9 Piano Evening

    On Tuesday, we enjoyed wonderful performances from our Year 8 & 9 Pianists.

    There was a real variety of pieces, and it was a brilliant opportunity for students to be inspired by other students.

    Performers should be very proud of themselves - well done to all!

    Videos from the Evening- click the top right hand corner to see the whole playlist

    Acoustic Guitar Platform

    On Thursday, our Acoustic Guitar players performed to their families.

    From solos, and duets to ensembles pieces. Really fantastic work, the students should be very proud - well done!

    Videos from the Evening- click the top right hand corner to see the whole playlist

    Rock Gig

    On Tuesday, we had our final Rock Gig of the year, and it was nothing short of spectacular!

    Performances from all of the bands were superb, and demonstrated a high level of musicianship.

    Some of our regular attendees couldn't make it to the gig, however students from other bands stepped up and helped in place of these students. It illustrated the sense of team at Rock School, and it was really special to watch - thank you to those students!

    Well done to all, it was a brilliant evening of performances, and you should all be very proud!


    Rock School returns in September, on Wednesdays after school. If you haven't already signed up, please do so now via this form - https://forms.gle/d66WERNkezBhFKNw7

    Videos from the Evening- click the top right hand corner to see the whole playlist

    Mr Stevenson's Drum Evening

    On Wednesday, we enjoyed performances from Mr Stevenson's drummers!

    Drummers typically tend to be sat at the back of bands, so we think it is important that they are also celebrated individually. It was a brilliant opportunity for students to be able to perform but also a chance for them to see and be inspired by other drummers.

    Well done to all of the performers, it was a fabulous evening!

    Videos from the Evening- click the top right hand corner to see the whole playlist

    Year 2 & 3 Strings & Year 2/3 Choir Showcase

    On Thursday, we celebrated our youngest musicians at Simon Balle All-through School. It was a great opportunity for families to see what our Year 2 & 3 Strings have been working on.

    From Year 2 Strings playing 'Boogie Band', to Year 3 Strings performing solos and duets, to Year 2/3 Choir singing 'Summer Holiday', it was a fantastic evening. Well done to all of our performers!

    Audio from the Evening

    Our end of year celebration: Saffron Sounds is fast approaching, one week to go!

    Information including the rehearsal schedule for the day and frequently asked questions have been posted to the event's page.

    Please click the image below to see details.

  • Musical News – April 2023

    What is a team?

    Saturday's concert of Wind and Brass was a triumph and one that highlighted our musical ethos and routes of progression in so many ways. It was a celebration of how independent practice - hard work, commitment, attention to detail and teamwork can come together and produce such amazing performances. Students throughout our secondary phase performed, some who started learning with us when they were at their primary school. Real all-through learning. Teachers who have spent hours creating bespoke arrangements for their ensembles, so that every musician feels confident in their ability, yet challenged to do even better. Some younger musicians were in the audience, in awe of what they will soon be able to join and be part of. Families, both immediate and extended, in the audience watching their children grow and learn so much. The joy of an evening like this is seeing and hearing pride in the musicians, wanting to be there, wanting to be part of Team Music. Whilst this was only one concert of so many this year, it is one that showcases so much of what we do and why we do it.
    We know that life is about what we, as individuals, achieve. So much that we achieve is part of a team, working in harmony with others. In our music, that is what we do, day after day.
    Mark Taylor, Director of Music

    A Celebration of Wind & Brass

    I found the performance exhilarating and exciting to play in. To be in concert band was great as we were able to play many songs. Playing the one kit piece was exciting and the overall night was fun.

    Lucien, Year 10

    Videos from the Evening- click the top right hand corner to see the whole playlist

    Trinity Classical & Jazz Exams

    Before the Easter holidays, some of our students sat their Trinity Classical/Jazz Exams. What an achievement - they should be so proud.

    Click the image to see the results.

    Y5 Theme & Variation

    Year 5 have been learning about Music from the classical era, and have composed their own variations on a well known theme. They have been inspired by Mozart's version of the same piece and have produced some fantastic work, so do have a listen to these examples below composed by Zoe and Rosie, and by Ava and Millie. 

    Coming Up:

    Our annual celebration at Saffron Hall is fast approaching. Full details are on the dedicated page, which we are regularly updating. Tickets are not yet on sale, but will be in mid May. This is a huge an important event, so do please keep checking this page.

    Please use this link to see more details of the day at Saffron Hall

    As always, see our upcoming events on the What's On Page!


    What’s On

  • Musical News – 31st March

    Well done to all

    It has been a busy time. When is it quiet?!
    10 performances, 5 days of music exams, hundreds of musicians performing and in the audiences, thousands of hours of tuition and practice, millions of notes played in performance, a zillion emails sent. So many individual stories of triumph.
    As I reflect, I consider these words: teamwork, quality, resilience, passion, musicality, enjoyment, pride, celebration.
    Each and every performance was completed by our musicians, your young students - those you support and nag. Everyone in Team Music should be full of awe at the quality of music being performed at every level. Everyone in Simon Balle should be proud of the musicians and how they work together.
    There is always more to do, more students to inspire, more amazing music to create. What I know is that when we work together as a team, work together with drive and pride, and put in the practice, amazing things happen.
    Mark Taylor, Director of Music

    A Celebration of Singing & Strings!

    In the Strings and Singing concert, I was performing in Chamber Choir, Musical Theatre ensemble and a Musical Theatre trio. My favourite piece I performed was At The Ballet from Chorus Line as it's the best I think I have ever sung in front of an audience and I was able to incorporate my passion for acting as well. I also think that everyone performed incredibly well, it was great to see how many people are involved in the ensembles, especially the string group, and it was a brilliant event to showcase how talented everyone is. I didn’t have one specific highlight but it was so great to see how confident everyone was and to experience such a range of music. Every piece sounded so incredible! It was obvious how hard everyone worked to create such an amazing concert and it was really inspiring for everyone to look up to what they could achieve in the future. 

    Rosie, Year 11


    I was participating in the Strings and Singing event. It was amazing! The atmosphere was joyful, and every song sounded great. My favourite part about it was taking part in the Senior Strings and playing Fawkes the Phoenix.

    Summer, Year 7

    Videos from the Evening- click the top right hand corner to see the whole playlist

    Herts & Ware Music Festival - "Esther"

    Earlier this month we took the Larch Senior Choir to perform at the Herts and Ware Music Festival in the Ware Drill Hall. The children took part in a production called Esther which was composed by the local composer Paul Burrell and they performed in a chorus of over 150 children from different primary schools in the area. The production was a roaring success and the children made us hugely proud of them from start to finish with their fantastic singing and professionalism. There were also outstanding individual performances from Zach and Archie who had major roles in the production.

    In my performance of Paul Burrell’s Cantata ‘Esther’, I played the role of Mordecai with a dozen other actors around my age. We had all learnt our lines, our solo songs and our roles in the play. In my opinion, Esther was an absolutely amazing masterpiece and I am looking forward to what Mr Burrell will do next!

    Archie, Year 5



    The character I played is an arrogant King called Xerxes. I find that playing him was quite fun because I loved being quite royal and how much expression I had to show. I really enjoyed every single part of being Xerxes.

    I think the cast were really good performers at there roles as they showed so much expression during the 2 nights. I think that they were really nice and welcoming when Archie and I came as we didn’t know anyone. They were really good actors and I think they should perform again.

    Zach, Year 6

    Trinity Rock & Pop Exams

    Earlier this month, some of our students sat their Trinity Rock & Pop Exams. What an achievement - they should be so proud.

    Click the image to see the results.

    Music Medals

    In the primary phase, our younger musicians have been taking their music medals!

    • Hattie, Annie, Xander and Summer passed their silver violin medals.
    • Sofia, Olivia, Rosie, Marlee, Seb, Max, William and Chloe passed their copper medals.
    • Rosa, Beau, Isabella, Ava, Isla and Eloise passed their bronze medals.
    • Evie, Marnie, Renae and Freya passed their copper medals.
    • Loris passed his copper medal on bassoon and his bronze medal on flute.

    Congratulations to you all!


    A Celebration of Larch Music

    Well done to everyone for the amazing primary music celebration earlier this month. It was a triumph, with over 100 musicians involved. The quality of music performed and celebration from the audience was amazing. Music is most certainly alive in the Larch!

    Videos from the Evening- click the top right hand corner to see the whole playlist

    Rock Gig

    Rock School is a fabulous part of our work and rehearses on a Tuesday. 55 musicians work in bands bringing together music they have selected and students learn how to work in teams - the bands, support each other and grow in confidence. It was a superb community at the gig this week where the standard of performance was an inspiration. Congratulations to everyone who performed, and thank you to everyone who came as audience. Without an audience, the gigs and concerts are nothing!!

    Videos from the Evening- click the top right hand corner to see the whole playlist

    Coming Up:

    As always, see our upcoming events on the What's On Page!


    What’s On

  • Musical News – March 2023

    What a musical time.....

    This half term sees over 350 musicians performing in various concerts, recitals and gigs. The culmination of months of hard work by so many. Below you will find so much to celebrate - do please take time to read through and listen to what our fabulous musicians have created. We do this so that our wider community can be part of the audience as well!
    Why does this matter?
    Performances show progress, enjoyment and provide celebration. From the BIg Band evening to Rock School and Year 2 celebrations via Strings and Singing, a drum evening, guitars and more.
    There is always something to celebrate in our music. What we always need is you at home to join in. Celebrate and make a fuss. It does make a difference.
    When we are busy, the musicians are busy. Being busy teaches our students commitment, organisation and how to deal with deadlines. At home, we ask that you support us. by putting our dates in your calendars and ensuring that musicians are at the events and rehearsals they need to be at. These are lessons for life - working to a high standard under pressure. I am so proud of our high expectations - we do not accept second best, but support all to achieve their very best.
    Never forget how important you are at home to the musical life of your young musician. The musical triangle of you, us and the young musician is so powerful.

    Mark Taylor, Director of Music

    Meet the Music Ambassador!

    We re getting to know our Music Ambassadors in Y6 and Y13 this year, please see our most recent posts!

    Lawrence, Y12, joined the ambassador team in September. He heavily involved in music ensembles across the All-Through, and provides excellent support for our larch musicians. He is a valued member of the team!


    A Celebration of Brass

    "I really enjoyed performing in the Celebration of Brass concert as we got to showcase everything we had been working on and everyone was very supportive. It was great how it involved students from the larch all the way up to year 13 as it meant younger students could be inspired by the older ones and it shows that music is for anyone of any age. We played a variety of different genres of music including choral music,  classical, and a hip hop mash up, showing the audience that brass instruments are very versatile. The concert also showed all the brass instruments that are played at Simon Balle like the trumpet, trombone, tuba and the more unusual ones like the flugelhorn and the piccolo trumpet. I thought it was a very successful concert as everyone had worked hard in rehearsals and it definitely paid off and I heard many audience members say how much they enjoyed it. The highlight of the concert for me was performing a solo to the song tango final by Astor Piazzolla with the rest of the ensemble playing the backing. It was such an amazing experience as I had never done anything like that before and it was a lot of fun. I thought I would be nervous but I was totally absorbed in the music. It was great!"

    May, Year 10


    An Evening with the Simon Balle Big Band

    The Simon Balle Big Band continue to excel, work so hard and achieve amazing musical things. They are at the top of our musical pyramid and performed with such professionalism. I am so proud of them as a group of musicians, reaching a standard rarely seen in schools. Do read these two reviews. I am especially taken by Millie's - her favourite piece was YMCA. If I had a pound for every time I have performed that....... it is now part of our musical folklore.

    Mark Taylor

    "Big Band is a yearly event that goes on in the main school hall that is a long, upbeat performance of popular songs, like I will survive and Blame it on the Boogie. 

    The evening was an absolute blast. All the songs sounded amazing and nothing seemed to go wrong! From the first song I was enjoying myself and that did not change for the rest of the night. Some of my favourite songs were Smooth, Absoludicrous and I’ve got you under my skin. Although I have to say, even though it wasn't my moment, my favourite moment of the evening was Luke’s solo in Tank! It sounded incredible and it will stay in my head for a long time."

    Jacob, Year 13

    Click on the playlist icon to select the other videos from the evening.

    Recently I played with the Simon Balle Big Band at the Big Band Evening and it was such an amazing experience. I have gained so much confidence playing in front of lots of people and had a great time too. My favourite part was when we played YMCA at the end of the show and absolutely everyone got up to dance. I'm so glad I got to be a part of it. 

    Millie, Year 9

    Mr Stevenson's Drumming Evening

    It was wonderful to celebrate our drummers! Usually they are hidden away at the back of ensembles (out of sight, but not sound!), so it is important to celebrate them individually. What musicality and skill on display!

    Year 2 Strings Celebration Concert

    The foundations of so much of our music now starts in the Larch. Our Year 2 Strings Training Programme. 41 musicians (from Year 2) performed with such confidence, musicality and skill. They have been learning less than two terms. With funding from the Hertfordshire Music Service, this is a unique musical programme.

    I cannot express enough how proud I am of the young musicians, starting out on their musical journey - for many, their first public concert. We are truly an all through musical school.

    Guitar Platform Evening

    A beautiful Guitar Platform was held this week showcasing our amazing acoustic guitar players. The technical skills on display were wonderful and it was a joy to listen to what had been rehearsed and learnt.

    Well done to everyone who took part.



    Save the Dates 2023!

    Please save our What's On page - everything you could possibly need to know is below:

    What’s On

    See some of our upcoming concerts >

    The Simon Balle Big Band at the Hertford Mayor’s Annual Civic Dinner

  • Musical News – February 2023

    The nuts and bolts of musical progression

    The Spring term is a time of preparation and routine. The routine of practice, personal organisation and rehearsals. The preparation is for performances, either in exams or in recitals and concerts. Both of these nuts and bolts are key for musical progression.⁣

    Musical progression is just that - knowing what all the work is for, what is being aimed for, what the long term goals are. This is totally individual - in musical style and in musical aims. How we achieve this is by working together - families at home, the musicians and the team in school. Regular practice (at least 3 or 4 times a week) leads to progression. It is muscle memory, it continually develops those parts of the brain. Neuroplasticity.⁣

    Through listening to the practice and preparation, you should be able to hear the progress being made - the 'how are they doing?'. Concerts, exams, practice, recitals and enjoyment all show how well your young musician is making progress. You can hear the progress. Of course, you can always ask us for an update and we always let you know when we are worried, but hearing how things are improving is the best way to monitor progress.⁣

    If we work together, amazing musical things happen.⁣ We do and they are!

    Mark Taylor, Director of Music

    Exam Success

    In January, we hosted Trinity Music Exams. Our students have worked so hard, and progressed so much and the results completely reflect this. A massive congratulations to those who have passed their exams! We should especially congratulate the many students who achieved grade 8 - a very challenging standard to achieve.


    Please click the images to the right to see the results and celebrate each individual! We are so proud of each and every one of them.

    Our primary musicians continue to show how musical they are, especially at such a young age. Well done everyone, including the supporters at home, for all your hard work.

    Meet the Music Ambassador!

    We re getting to know our Music Ambassadors in Y6 and Y13 this year, please see our most recent posts!

    Patrick and Jacob, Y13, have been a part of the ambassador team for nearly 2 years, they are both heavily involved in music ensembles and provide brilliant support for our larch musicians. They are a very valued part of the community!

    Isabella, Y6, is one of our ambassadors, and a proud member of our musical community.


    Woodwind Beginners' Celebration

    It was a fabulous occasion to bring together our Year 3 beginner woodwind musicians, along with friends from Millmead Primary School. All have been learning the flute or clarinet for just over a term and this was their first ever concert!

    Along with the quality of performance, I was inspired by the levels of confidence that were shown by the musicians. Performing in front of families and friends is never easy and whilst they might have been nervous, it did not show. We should remember they were Year 3, playing so fluently after such a short space of time learning.

    Well done to the musicians, and Mr Caldecote and Mr Smith for their guidance and enthusiasm. Hard work really does pay off!






    Brass Beginners' Celebration

    In a similar way, brass players in Years 4 and 5 from the Simon Balle Larch were joined by players from Millmead to show what they have achieved in just over a term. Such a happy concert with some brilliant playing.

    Having these concerts brings the boost and confidence to both the musicians and the audience. We are so proud of everyone, as well as the families for the support provided at home. Thanks also to Mr Peach for his teaching. Such amazing times at Simon Balle and Millmead schools!

    A Celebration of Piano!

    It was lovely to hear some of our pianists perform at the recent piano recital. They are pictured at the top of this newsletter. The piano is a difficult instrument to master and requires so much practice. Once again the confidence on display mirrored the amazing musicality. A 'packed house' appreciated and celebrated the performances. Well done to everyone!

    We enjoyed brilliant performances from Zoe W, Isabel W, Edward, Amelia, Reubin, Hector, Sylvie, Ciara, Gabriel, Naomi, Zoe D, Ziva, Holly, Isabel H and Lola!

    Save the Dates 2023!

    Please save our What's On page - everything you could possibly need to know is below:

    What’s On

    See some of our upcoming concerts >

  • Musical News – January 2023

    Welcome back!

    January is a time for remembering our routines and looking forward. It is the start of a term full of exams for many and much more music making for all.
    Do please look at the What's On page. Fill those calendars with the dates, so check what your young musician is involved in. We are working hard to be meaningful with our communication, putting most of it on the website. Our new year's resolution to you is to support you ensuring musicians put in time for practice. Practice makes progress and happier learning. Even older musicians need reminding and support!
    December was full of concerts and performances, as well as snow. It was brilliant how everyone adapted for the Carol Services, and how hard musicians worked in every performance. Well done to everyone.
    Here's to another brilliant term of music making.

    Mark Taylor, Director of Music

    The Carol Services

    Despite the snow, our Larch and Secondary Carol Services ploughed ahead. Although all of the original plans had to be adapted, our musicians and staff adapted too, and because of this, we were able to enjoy two evenings of amazing Carol Services! The week really embodied the term 'Team Music'.

    Meet the Music Ambassador!

    We re getting to know our Music Ambassadors in Y6 and Y13 this year, please see our most recent posts!

    Jacob & Patrick, Y13, have been ambassadors for over a year...

    Save the Dates 2023!

    We have lots planned for 2023 including Big Band Evening and Saffron Hall!
    Please check our What's On Page for more information by clicking the page below!

    What’s On