Shrewsbury School

Prep School Big Band Day is a resounding success

Wednesday 4 December 2013

We were delighted to welcome 60 pupils from Packwood Haugh, Prestfelde, Winterfold and Shrewsbury High Prep to Shrewsbury’s first ever Prep School Big Band Day on Friday 29th November – an exciting and inspiration event for all concerned, as organiser and Head of Woodwind Maria McKenzie describes.

Prep School Big Band Day, 29th November 2013

After a lunch of fish & chips (that went down very well indeed!), the children began their afternoon at the Science Lecture Theatre with a lecture on music and science by Kathy Campbell. Kathy gave an intriguing talk to her captive audience on the sounds of the rain forest and the children were given instruments that mimicked the noises of the residents of the forests and were asked to compose pieces of music that brought the rainforest to Shrewsbury School.

The children then moved on to the Chapel to listen to the Lunchtime Concert (which are held each Friday during term time) given by students at Shrewsbury School, which showed off the talent of soloists from the brass and singing departments, together with a couple of jazzy pieces played by the trumpet quartet and a rendition of Gershwin’s An American in Paris by the Saxophone Quartet.

Then it was on to the Maidment Building for the Big Band Workshop - the highlight of the day for many of the children. Together with members of the Shrewsbury School Big Band, all the prep school pupils worked on four numbers which were performed later in the final concert of the day. I was a little unsure of the sound that was likely to be produced from an 80-strong Big Band but was pleasantly surprised when they managed to play through Rock around the Clock almost immediately! We continued to work through the other chosen pieces - Tequila, the theme from Sesame Street and In the Midnight Hour. It was very encouraging to see that many of the young students put themselves forward to improvise.

The day culminated with an informal concert to parents in the Maidment Building, which started with the Shrewsbury School Big Band playing some of their extensive repertoire. Highlights were definitely Skyfall, sung by Lucie Fletcher (Winterfold Prep School) who gave a superb performance, and Harlem Nocturne which featured our lead alto, Henry Newbould (Ch V). The day finished with a performance by all 80 students of the four pieces they had covered in the workshop. It was a real delight to hear the energy that was created by so many musicians.

The concert was introduced by Admissions Tutor Giles Bell, who had had helped shepherd the pupils around the School earlier in the day. After the performance he said, “To see 80 young musicians enthusiastically playing together and making such a great sound was breath-taking. The prep school boys and girls showed off their prodigious skills and were just so accomplished and calm during their solos and general playing.  It really was such an uplifting afternoon and I would like to thank all the boys and girls and their teachers for giving me and the rest of the audience such a buzz.”

We have been thrilled with the positive feedback we’ve had from the prep schools who took part. In her email of thanks, Head of Music at Winterfold wrote: “Best of all for us was seeing our ex pupils really hitting new heights –and also the opportunity for Lucie to sing with your band and all our children doing solos.”

I look forward to next year's event!

back to top