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G15 Celebration of Success 2018

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The hundreds of people who headed for Gloucester Cathedral on Friday 22ndJune were in for a treat as the G15 Partnership put on an evening of entertainment to be remembered!

All of the 12 state funded secondary schools in Gloucester City, had come together with The Milestone School, the Gloucester and the Forest Alternative Provision School and Gloucestershire College, as they do every year, to showcase their artistic talents and to give an account of their work, through the G15 Celebration of Success.

The event opened with an address by Mr Matthew Morgan, Headmaster of Sir Thomas Rich’s School and Chair of the G15 Partnership, in which Mr Morgan recounted  a very successful year for G15. He spoke of the strength that flows from Gloucester’s secondary educational establishments working together. He told of the priority which has  been given to supporting the mental health of students, through Gloucestershire’s Clinical Commissioning Group funding a part time, primary mental health worker in each of the 15 establishments. He went on to say that G15 had a fine legacy laid down by those who have chaired the Partnership before him  and dedicated this year’s event to Mrs Amanda Chong, who had been instrumental in establishing the annual G15 Celebration of Success in her time as G15 Chair. Mrs Chong retired from Ribston Hall High School earlier this year.

Mr Morgan finished by applauding the work of the G15 Student Group. Two students from each of the G15 institutions meet once a term and decide on the priorities which they want to take forward in their two years of office. This unique group of students has been called into all sorts of activities where the voice of young people needs to be heard and it is currently playing a very active part in visioning Gloucestershire 2050 by feeding their ideas to Leadership Gloucestershire who are spearheading this campaign. Mr Morgan concluded by welcoming the three members of the G15 Student Group who would be acting as compèresto tonight’s event:  Alex Owusu (Sir Thomas Rich’s School and Chair of the G15 Student Group), Molly Heard (Beaufort Co-operative Academy) and Hannah Pandor (Ribston Hall High School).

As tradition now dictates, the event opened with The Milestone Taiko Drummers’ amazing performance which threatened to raise the roof of Gloucester Cathedral! These amazingly talented students provided a perfect and working illustration of the inclusive nature of the G15 Partnership.

Voices provided by Chosen Hill Sixth Form Choir, others by Gloucestershire College’s musical theatre students and a little bit of Cockney ‘knees up’, by High School for Girls took the show forward.

St Peter’s’ ‘Frontline’ acapella group reminded us of the imminent commemoration of the Armistice, with two World War One classics whilst Churchdown School Academy Choir used the tiered staging to the full with a rendition of an Ed Sheeran classic.

Beaufort Co-operative Choir was in fine voice with a ‘mash up’ of Andra Day and Bruno Mars and then Mr Morgan made another appearance; this time as conductor of Sir Thomas Rich’s Brass Band.

Kieran Francis, a very talented pianist in Year 9 at Henley Bank High School, gave a very polished performance of J.B.Vanhal followed swiftly by another brass band. This one from The Crypt School; expertly conducted by student Daniel Crowe.

A change of pace and mood was created by Daisy Kane in Year 7 at Ribston Hall who played the piano magnificently and sang a song which she had written herself called ‘Instruction’ whilst fellow students gave a colourful and moving interpretation in dance.

Barnwood Park Arts College Glee Club with soloist, Evie-Rose Howie, gave a beautiful account of ‘From Now on’ from The Greatest Showman followed by the rich tones of Severn Vale student Oscar Grimmett singing ‘Better than I’ from ‘Joseph’.  Fellow student, Nathan Ramage, then took to the drumkit and gave an animated and powerful performance of ‘Chop Suey’ which rocked the very stones of this historic landmark building!

What followed was a very tender and harmonious account of ‘Who am I?’ from the musical Annie from Lisa, Laura, Will and Charlotte from Gloucester Academy and then, hot on their heels, were the amazing vocals of Shanae Grant from Gloucester and the Forest Alternative Provision School singing ‘Hallelujah’.

Back to ‘The Greatest Showman’ for the penultimate performance given by Beaufort Co-operative Academy’s Staff Choir singing ‘This is Me’ to rapturous applause from the audience.

Then to the finale.

Ben O’Sullivan, of The Songwriting Charity, had worked with Beaufort Co-operative Academy students to write a song ‘Never Say Never’, which was to become the finale for the G15 Celebration of Success 2018. Ben then taught that song to each of the other 14 institutions and so, gave rise to the G15 Choir of in excess of 200 student voices, accompanied on the piano by Ashleigh Turley, aged 15, from The Milestone School who has been totally blind since birth.

The image of 15 institutions all gathered together on the tiered terrace in Gloucester Cathedral was absolutely breathtaking. A true partnership in action!

We look forward to G15 Celebration of Success 2019….

Halloween highlights and seasonal songs for the classroom

As the nights draw in and Autumn is well and truly here Lisa Mayo, Head of Gloucestershire Music and the County’s Singing Champion reflects on some of her favourite seasonal music lessons and highlights some resources that might help to give you some inspiration for your own lessons and singing activities in the next half term…

I love Autumn and enjoy getting back into my woollies and boots and going for lovely long walks in the countryside witnessing all the beautiful changing colours of the leaves.  Likewise in school, I found this time of year really inspiring for children and it seemed easier for them to be creative when composing and more emotive and reflective when listening to music.


With wonderful, imaginative and stimulating dates such as Halloween and Bonfire Night there is no better time to get children listening, composing and performing.  I used to pop down to the ‘pound’ shops in town and deck my classroom out with cobwebs, light-up pumpkins and some creepy surprises that would keep the classes guessing and I had some of the best and most memorable lessons in my career!  When you have fun with music then so will the children!

So I’ve put some ideas together as a mere lighting of the touch paper to maybe give you some inspiration for planning some fab and fun lessons of your own after half term!  If you have some favourite seasonal lessons that you would be happy to share then we’d love to hear about them – so send them into me by email and we’ll share them on the Make Music Gloucestershire website.


Danse Macabre:  This is a classic by Saint-Saens and is a wonderfully evocative piece of programmatic music – here is how Classic FM introduces it:

Death is up there on most composers’ radars as a worthy inspiration. Saint-Saëns happened on the subject in the early 1870s, originally setting to music a strange, art-house poem by Henri Cazalis, which has the first line ‘Zig, zig, zig, death in cadence’. Originally it was for voice and piano but, thankfully, Saint-Saëns reworked it a couple of years later, substituting a violin for the voice and adding the full orchestra. When it was premiered at one of the Parisian Châtelet concerts (these took place in the Théâtre du Châtelet) it was immediately encored in full. Since then, it has remained one of Saint-Saëns’s most popular pieces, with television providing endless opportunities to hear it again in theme tunes.

There’s a whole narrative that unfolds in the piece, with the violin representing death himself and the story starting at midnight – hence the twelve chiming opening notes. So it was completely appropriate that the piece was chosen to open the Bafta-winning mystery crime series, from 1997 to 2013. It starred Alan Davies as the magician’s assistant who solves apparently supernatural mysteries using his knowledge of trickery.

If you type ‘lesson plans for Danse Macabre’ into any search engine you will find many resources, lesson plans, PowerPoints etc. that you can download for free or give you ideas for creating your own.

This is also a great piece for introducing children to graphic score, as they can start to respond to the music by finding shapes and symbols to help represent features such as changes in dynamics, texture and identifying structure and theme repetition and variation.

I used to love doing this lesson with Year 7 students (but you could easily do this piece with KS2 students as well) – here is a taster of how the lesson used to pan out!:

The students had to come into the classroom in silence, as I had the lights off and the classroom lit with my halloween fun lights (obviously PAT tested in advance!) and some spooky film music playing!

I would start to teach them a couple of spooky / fun songs at the beginning and then I would ask them to sit and listen to Danse Macabre whilst I told them the story.  I tended to make up my own story based around the poem, as I felt this worked a little better!  At the end I asked them ‘which their favourite parts of the piece were?’…’what instruments they could identify?’ (especially ‘which instrument plays the clock chimes at the start’ and ‘which instrument represents the cockerel at the end?’ etc.).

I would display the themes in notation on the board for the visual learners and to help develop their music reading skills.  I would also play them the separate themes so they could familiarise themselves with the characteristics of each one in order for them to be able to identify them and tell them apart.  This was a great opportunity to introduce terminology such as stepwise/leapy melodic lines; spiky/smooth rhythms and textures; accidentals and chromatic notes.  We’d look at videos and pictures of the instrumentation (or have live demos if the instruments were available) that played the key themes and discussed the techniques involved and the parts of the orchestra they belonged to.

Then I used to spend time at the end of the lesson where we would clear the tables away and I would get them into separate groups to represent each theme.  Then they would have to create a group tableau / freeze frame (creating an image conjured up from the poem) and then from a sitting position on the floor in their groups I would play the piece from the start and they would have to all work as a team in their groups to listen out for their theme and spring up into their freeze frame when the could hear their theme being played.  It was quite a good method to see who was really confident with their understanding of the themes that they had been taught and who were still not quite sure!  This group activity helps the less able to build in listening skills and confidence as well as developing those more able as group ‘conductors’.  Some of the themes are quite similar so there is certainly an element of challenge there!

The Others (Film Soundtrack):

This is probably more appropriate for secondary age students, as it is quite creepy in parts(!) but it has wonderful instrumentation and techniques to get the pupils to try and identify, especially in the main theme of ‘The Others’ and ‘Wakey, Wakey’ i.e. bass clarinet, flute (in it’s lower range), cor anglais, tremolo strings, pedals etc. and has some more unusual keyboard and sting instruments to keep them guessing for a while!  ‘They are Everywhere’ – has frantic orchestral textures and wonderful dissonant moments at the opening.  Also the child humming the nursery rhyme in ‘Communion Dress’ is particularly creepy in true horror pastiche and this is followed by the huge swell of the roaring orchestra with more dissonance and polyphonic textures.  You have been warned!

You can then introduce the pupils to some of the classic horror film musical concepts following the listening exercise:

  • pedals (extreme pitch range i.e. bottom C and top C)
  • chromatic melodic ostinati
  • dynamic extremes
  • unpredictable pulse / use of rests / unpredictable rhythms – to keep the listener on their toes and to build the tension
  • changing nursery rhymes from major into minor or model tonality
  • …and for once I used to let them include some ‘appropriate’ sound fx if they had included all the compositional basics!

Ask the pupils to compose their own short piece of horror film music by using some of these techniques.  When they perform their pieces to each other their peers can use an agreed score rating to credit the techniques they have used from the list and then give a bonus mark for the ‘scare factor’!

The ‘Harry Potter’ film music is also a gem at this time of year, especially ‘Hedwig’s Theme’, which is a great melody to learn to play and a wonderful track to listen to with the magical celesta playing the theme in the opening!


There are lots of great resources out there to help Primary Teachers start singing more with their pupils.  Singing doesn’t have to be given a designated ‘slot’ in the weekly timetable (although every school should have a fab singing club for the children to attend!), it should be integrated into their daily lives to enhance their academic experiences in every subject and help them to learn in a creative and motivating way.  I wanted to highlight some of the resources on offer from Out of the Ark in this blog (although there are many other companies out there that also provide fantastic resources such as Sing Up, Singing Sherlock, Charanga etc.) and pass on some suggestions from them for some pieces which might be appropriate at this time of year.

I would love us to have some feedback from teachers in our county who have some suggestions about pieces that they sing with their children and have a great response from, as it can help others to be inspired and save time in searching for the ‘best’ songs to do in the next assembly…lesson…choir session.  So please do pass on any of your ideas to me by email and we’ll start to share more and lessen the load for each other!

Song Bundles from Out of the Ark – Primary Singing Resources:

Are you looking for a selection of songs for your singing festivals or events?   Perhaps you’d like a bundle of songs?   Did you know that you can select songs from Out of the Ark’s various songbook titles?  You can then even access selected songs via their Out of the Ark Music online account through the Words on Screen™ player – Singchronize®

Songs are available with:

    • Printable music scores  and lyric sheets
    • Words on Screen™ element – interactive lyrics that synchronise with the vocal and backing tracks – making the songs easier to teach and learn.
    • Downloadable MP3s
    • Ability to stream or download the songs
    • Ability to create an expandable library and playlists in your online account of single songs or titles.
    • PLUS additional teaching notes for each song – where available.

If you’d like some more information about their song bundles do get in touch with Anna Edwards

A Few Fun Seasonal Songs:


Song Title



The Niki Davies Book Of Songs For Autumn And Winter Pumpkin Head · A great song, useful for looking at shapes and how to recognise them
· Perfect for younger ages
Songs for EVERY Season Conkers! · A fun song which has become a firm favourite with children of all ages everywhere
· Celebrating the joy of conker collecting
· Articulation

Take a look at their blog post – Do you have what it takes to be a conker conqueror?

Songs for EVERY Season Turn Back The Clocks  • All the essential ingredients of Autumn rolled into a song
• Modulation
• Articulation
A Combined Harvest Picture Of Autumn  • Full of lots of lovely Autumn vocabulary, a fabulous song to sing through the whole season
• Lots of scope for adding your own Autumn rhyming words to replace the verse lyrics
The Niki Davies Calendar Of Songs Crunching Through The Leaves  · Perfect for Autumn, describing the sights and sounds of crunching leaves
• An excellent song to add untuned percussion to

Planning for Christmas Nativity / Concerts?

We’d love to hear about your plans for your musical Christmas events.  Send us your photos, video or audio clips and let us share them on our Make Music Gloucestershire website so that we can start to show the rest of our county how wonderfully rich the singing is in our schools.  So don’t be shy – be the first to get your school’s name ‘up in lights’ and share the achievements with your parents and pupils.  Send any media along with a brief write up to us at and we’ll be sure to post it on our website (please note: any media sent to us should have been checked for parental permissions in line with your school’s policy before sending it to us).

Have a wonderful Autumn and enjoy your festive music making in your schools!

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