The sun sets on another session…

This is a time of year I enjoy greatly – and not only because the opportunity to bolster one of Europe’s sun-drenched but struggling economies approaches. There are performances aplenty. In the secondary sector there was MGS Summer Concert – and then a smaller contingent of the Guitar Ensemble played at the MGS Prize Giving last night. It always amazes me how the smaller group (8 members) sounds louder than the full ensemble (20+) – there’s a psychology/physics PhD in there, I’m sure.

In the purely primary zone, there are two nights of Annie at Wallyford PS. My colleague, Ewan Armstong, is the MD for this and puts in the spade work over many weeks. I simply swan in with a bass guitar on the night(s) and join in. On a personal level, this is one of the year’s most enjoyable musical challenges. There is no written part. The trick is to watch what Ewan is playing and decide, on the hoof, the best thing to compliment it. While it’s important that young people grasp the value of rehearsal – of preparing the music as carefully as possible – I think it’s also important for those hoping to pursue the art, that they see other ways of operating – some of which are thrust upon us from time to time. The closing night is this evening. If it’s anything like the miraculous opening night then it will be great.

My final visit to Campie for this session ended with a concert by guitarists in P5-P7 for the P4s – from whose ranks next year’s guitarists will emerge.  I was really thrilled by this event. The pupils played excellently and we were able to squeeze in a few more courageous soloists than was the case during the school’s Musical Evening a couple of weeks earlier. Especially promising was the rapt attention of the P4 pupils and their intelligent questions and observations.

Transition is often where the fun is. Pupils from Campie PS and Wallyford PS joined the MGS Guitar Ensemble in the Summer Concert. Tomorrow, former pupils from Wallyford – currently at MGS –  will visit the school to join with departing P7s in a performance at the Leavers’ Assembly. I’m always touched by the affectionate regard in which the pupils hold their former school, and with the warm reception they receive from their former teachers. It really is the best way to end the year and helps keep a sense of the big picture.

Have an excellent summer, one and all!

Annie

Christmas is perceived as the busy time of year for instrumental instructors as, every school puts on one or two evening’s worth of yuletide music-making as near the end of term as possible. However, this term has been no slouch either. In addition to SQA practical exams, the last few weeks of term has seen: a Sunday band call, Wednesday dress rehearsal and then 3 nights of Guys & Dolls at NBHS; Campie Musical Evening; East Lothian’s Showcase Concert; Knox Spring Concert (tonight) and NBHS Spring Concert (tomorrow).

These last two clashed with the only two nights of Wallyford PS’s production of Annie and so I took the opportunity to go along to the dress rehearsal last night. I was really stunned by the stage presence, quality of singing, acting, accents and, last but not least, by the traditional Wallyfordesque lack of prima donnability.

It struck me how odd it was to have walked past many of these pupils, so many times, completely unaware of their great talent.