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Music Giving Wings to ATC Students

To say that it has been a busy term in Co-curricular Music at Ambrose Treacy College is an understatement! In years gone by our aim of the second term has been to maintain consistent rehearsals, lessons and to encourage students to implement well structured practise routines.

This would lead to the Winter Music Evening at the end of the term, which was traditionally the largest concert of the year, and usually the point in the year where ensembles began to ‘take shape’ and be in a position to perform their repertoire has a high level. In 2018 term 2 is still a term where all of this quality practise and rehearsal is essential, but it has now also become a term that offers numerous performance opportunities for our students.

The term commenced with rehearsals and lessons on the first day back as the 2018 Junior Band were in full swing. On just the third day of term, the Brass Ensemble performed at the Cairns Aged Care Facility in Chapel Hill for their annual pre-ANZAC day service. This performance was highly valuable for the students and was also incredibly well received by the residents. Brass Ensemble backed this up with an outstanding performance in combination with the Senior Singers at ATC’s ANZAC Day liturgy at the college. The Jazz Orchestra and Jazz Quintet performed at QRoasters in Stafford at the “Jazz Beans and Brews” fundraising concert. This was an outstanding evening of Jazz in front of a huge audience and an wonderful opportunity for the performers to play at a unique venue.

At the end of week three, ATC Jazz Orchestra departed for Mt Gambier for the 2018 Generations in Jazz Festival. The event attracted over 5000 music students from around the country, to compete in the largest music competition in the country, and to experience world class performances and workshops across three days. The ATC Jazz Orchestra’s performance was outstanding, reached a new high in terms of standard and maturity, and while we didn’t place in the competition this group of young musicians represented the college incredibly well and can be very proud of their achievements. There were numerous highlights but none more that experiencing a live performance from the Cat Empire which had more than 6000 people standing on their chairs and screaming with excitement as they enjoyed a band that was both virtuosic and energetic.

In week four the second annual Guitar/Piano/Vocal concert was held in the ATC Chapel. 45 soloists and small groups accepted the invitation to perform and entertained an audience that had the Chapel bursting at the seams. It was an evening that offered music in a variety of styles, and performances from students who were well advanced in their learning, and others who had never performed in front of an audience.

In week five Clarinet Ensemble A headed to the Brookfield show to entertain guests at the primary school art show. They were incredibly well received and inspired a number of future ATC students who were present to become involved in the co-curricular music program. On the Saturday of that same week, the Big Band had an opportunity to perform at Brisbane’s iconic ‘Brisbane Jazz Club’. The room was overflowing with highly enthusiastic, parents, family members and jazz lovers. The band’s performance was outstanding and received incredibly positive and encouraging feedback from world renowned Drummer and adjudicator John Morrison.

On the Monday evening of week 6 our Junior Choir journey to Mansfield State High School for the 2018 Queensland Youth Music Awards. The choir performed incredibly well, received a gold award for their performance and were invited to perform in the finals of that competition. An outstanding achievement! On the same night, a group of our more experienced singers begin preparations at QPAC for their performance of the iconic “Faure Requiem”. The performance held on Sunday the 27 May was breathtaking and a unique opportunity for these students to perform in front of nearly 2000 people with the UQ Symphony Orchestra and students from Brisbane Boys College, Brisbane State High School, Clayfield College, Canterbury College, Kenmore State High School, Moreton Bay College, St Laurence’s College, and St Peters Lutheran College.

In the same week back at ATC the first “Ensembles Evening” was held at Ambrose Treacy College. This intimate evening provided a fantastic opportunity for the College’s smaller groups and chamber ensembles to perform, in front of a very receptive audience of parents and family members.

So much has happened this term already, but there is still plenty coming up! All ATC Singers will be heading to the St Aidan’s Gala Choral Concert to be held at St John’s Cathedral in Brisbane City this Wednesday evening. In week eight the Junior Choir will compete in the final of the Queensland Youth Music Awards, and the term’s music making will conclude with our Bands Winter Music Evening in week 10.

Term three is traditionally the biggest of the year in co-curricular music, with huge events like the Queensland Catholic Colleges Music Festival, and the Formal Music Evening. This year the Handbells will also be heading to Cairns for the International Handbells Symposium.

In preparation for these significant events, it is crucial that students are implementing well organised and consistent practice routines. The following points are suggestions for how to practise effectively and efficiently. Remember that regular, purposeful practise is the most beneficial, 20 minutes every day is more effective than large blocks of time less frequently. We generally recommend 20 minutes four times a week (which is achievable for all students even with busy academic and co-curricular schedules), but students who are more experienced and moving into the higher grades will now be requiring significantly more than this.

Practise suggestions:

• Firstly, ensure you have your practise “space” set up well without distractions – seat and stand at a good height (music should not be on the floor or on your bed for example)
• Practice scales associated with the pieces you are working on to warm up in addition to AMEB set scales – this may be major or minor scales (or modes) if you are unsure ask your teacher
• Don’t play your pieces start to finish, look for sections that need work and focus on those only
• Work on difficult passages slowly with a metronome, gradually speeding them up as necessary
• Work through sections you think you already know at slow tempos focusing on precise ‘feel’ and articulation
• Work on expanding your dynamic range, over exaggerating variations
• Work on your tuning/intonation especially in the extremes of your range
• Play along to recordings
• Listen to as much relevant music as you can -this is crucial to understanding the style of the music you are trying to play
• Play something at the end of your practise session “just for the fun of it”

ATC Music Teachers encourage students by demonstrating their own passion for music.

The aim of all of this is to prepare you to play at your absolute best, and to “achieve personal excellence” – but to ultimately be the best ensemble member and part of a team that you can be. Never lose sight of the fact that playing music should ultimately be fun and remember that as you walk onto the stage for a performance.

Jonathon Bolt
Head of Co-Curricular Music
boltj@atc.qld.edu.au