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Masterclass

Arts Week 2016

The Robert Smyth annual ‘Arts Week’ took place in the week before the half term break and involved students from all key stages discovering something new in the Arts.

‘Arts Week’ is a joint venture between the Art and Design faculty and the Performing Arts faculty, where students from across the academy can sign up for up to two different workshops and are allowed out of their curriculum lessons to attend these.

This years workshops were all organised and ran by our own in-house specialist teachers, showcasing again why Robert Smyth is such a good option for teaching and learning in South Leicestershire, particularly in the Arts.

 

Some of the workshops on offer this year were:

  • Salsa Dancing, which was very popular particularly with 6th form students this year.
  • Robert Smyth Bake Off – which was won by Jazira Uddin and Mary Welton for their upside down Oreo cake. Runner up was Scarlett Godefroy with Grace Bolton coming third.
  • ‘Parsnips’ youth theatre came in and had year 7 students creating a whole play in half a day!
  • Origami had students calmly folding paper and creating flowers, frogs, dinosaurs and rabbits!
  • The producing workshop pushed our year 7 students to the limits as they balanced, panned and added reverb and delay on to an existing multi-track recording of ‘Street Spirit’ by Radiohead.
  • Iquan Silcott from Addict Dance came in to deliver a session on Commercial dance to GCSE Dance students.
  • Mrs Petersen held a composing and arranging workshop using Sibelius notation software for year 7 composers.
  • Miss Syngajewski hosted a monologue workshop for our 6th form students who were going off for auditions.
  • ‘Paper Pokemon’ had year 7 students folding and glueing their favourite Pokemon characters together.

We need to say a massive thank you to Claire from ‘Parsnips’ youth theatre for coming in and running a workshop completely free of charge, it was very generous and the students absolutely loved it!

There were several other sessions running during the week as well, which culminated in the first concert of the year, the GCSE Music Concert in the Max, which was also fantastic and brimming with talent.

We need to say a massive “thank you” to all Art and Design and Performing Arts staff who gave up their free time to organise and run the workshops in an already very busy half term. It was a huge success and there was an amazing buzz around the academy as workshops brimmed over with students discovering new skills and concepts all week.

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‘Learning South Leicestershire’ Performing Arts Day

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Wednesday, 22nd June saw Robert Smyth Academy host a Performing Arts day for Gifted and Talented year 7 students from across the south of Leicestershire. Gartree High School, Welland Park Academy, Manor High School, Thomas Estley Community College and Lutterworth High School all sent students who were gifted in Performing Arts subjects to Robert Smyth to learn the opening of the musical ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ in one day.

The day consisted of three individual workshops focussing on the three disciplines of Performing Arts; Music, Dance and Drama. Each workshop focussed on student’s exploring each discipline within the context of the opening Prologue, a song, a dance and two scenes from the musical.

Drama teacher, Claire Parsons was directing the drama workshops and had a group becoming ‘human scenery’, one group acting out the characters and another group providing us with two human based ‘Audrey II’ plants, the villain of the musical.

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Head of Music, Helle Petersen and singing teacher, Debbie Smith were on hand to take the singing workshop where students learned two of the songs from the musical in two-part harmony.

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Head of Dance, Marie Routledge and year 12 RSA student, Helen Spacie led the dance workshops where students were taught a very lengthy 3 minute dance routine which they all learnt from memory. A fantastic achievement in itself!

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The day culminated with all of the elements of the workshops being put together to create an opening dance/song and first scene from the musical, which was directed by Claire Parsons.

The day was organised by Robert Smyth Gifted and Talented coordinator, Rachael Eddy and Head of Performing Arts, Nick Hughes in liaison with the ‘Learning South Leicestershire’ group of schools.

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Rachael Eddy said this about the day “It was fantastic.  This was a group of students who absolutely threw themselves into what was a fun and fast paced day. What I really noticed was how much fun the Performing Arts staff has together – a great mix of brilliant teaching and enthusiasm. And how great to see so many 6th form students happily giving up their time by helping out in the workshops.”

Hopefully all the students will take away many positives from the day and understand that hard work, perseverance and team work, always yields outstanding progress and results.

The whole day was a huge success with all students thoroughly enjoying their day away from their regular schools to explore and be challenged in the Performing Arts. Who says the Arts don’t benefit young people?? Not us. #bacc4thefuture

NCBF; a parents perspective

Young people and teachers: both seem to get a bad press these days. So, early one Saturday morning, I began to wonder how I’d managed to allow myself to volunteer, as a parent helper, for a school trip. Surely there are better ways to spend the first full day of a weekend, especially one still in the Easter school holidays. And what was the teacher thinking? Could this be more important than a well-earned rest before term got underway again?

 

The National Concert Band Festival (NCBF) has been running for over 30 years and has grown to include 120 bands representing 5,000 players who all start their journey in five Regional Festivals in England and Scotland. From there the best bands go forwards to the two-day National Festival with almost 2,500 participants and 1,000 supporters in attendance – the largest gathering of wind musicians in the UK.

 

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The Robert Smyth Academy Big Band had reached the 2016 final at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester through the Midlands qualifying Festival in November last year. With such stiff competition from more than 20 schools on the Saturday alone, how would the 17 young musicians fare?

 

After the three-hour coach journey, the band had time to settle in, grab some food and get set up in their practise room. Mind you, snaking our way along corridors, up and down stairs, across food halls with instruments aloft, somehow the line got broken and the two halves of the band ended up in different places!

 

But this band had spirit, grit, determination and high expectations. Directed by the able Helle Petersen, they soon settled into their stride as they worked through their three numbers ahead of their main stage appearance in the early afternoon.

 

In jazz music, so I learnt, the rhythm section is particularly important, providing the rhythmic reference for the rest of the band. So, no pressure then Taylor Burton on keyboard, Jacob Bentley on bass, Jake Cartwright on electric guitar and Lyle Burton and Jonny Nicholson on drums / percussion. The question was how well they ably accompanied the rest of the instrumentalists – with their trumpets, saxophones, trombones and flutes.

 

What made the Festival different this year was the way feedback was provided. After their performances before an appreciative audience, one of the two adjudicators, both distinguished personalities from the world of jazz, got onto the stage. He provided what can only be described as a masterclass, getting the band to re-run one of their numbers and highlighting areas for improvement. At times it bordered on the cruel, but this Festival was about people moving to the top of their musical game, so standards were high.

 

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By late afternoon the drama moved to the presentation of awards on the Upper Concourse where hordes of students gathered to hear their fate. It was with a mixture of relief and delight that Taylor Burton and Jacob Cartwright collected the Gold Award on behalf of The Robert Smyth Academy Big Band.

 

Throughout the day the students were a credit to their school, their teacher and their parents. They are clearly a talented bunch who will go on to greater things in the field of music – whether as a hobby, to study or a career. If you are a parent reading this, then I’d highly recommend you take time out of your busy schedule to go as a parent helper on any one of the many music trips run from the school. You won’t be disappointed.

 

By Mr. Nicholson

Next Year’s Midlands Regional Festival is on Sunday 27 November 2016 at Nottingham High School

Richard Meyrick Masterclass

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Richard Meyrick, an internationally acclaimed virtuoso pianist, visited Robert Smyth Academy on Wednesday 23rd February to give a 2-hour piano workshop to a group of GCSE and A level music students. Richard studied at the Royal College of Music and made his concert debut at the Wigmore Hall while still a student. This was followed by a live televised performance of Brahms’ Piano Concerto No.2 conductor by Sir Adrian Boult.  Throughout his career he has given many concerts with leading orchestras throughout the world and also recorded Beethoven’s five Piano Concerti and the complete Chopin Nocturnes.

This piano workshop was part of a national programme entitled Pianoman which was set up in 2004 to encourage and nurture talented young pianists; the programme, sponsored by Sir Harvey and Lady Allison McGrath, has enabled Richard to visit over 400 schools in the UK over the past 12 years.  This is the fifth time since 2004 that Robert Smyth has been lucky enough to benefit from one of Richard’s workshops.

Five pianists from years 10 to 13 performed in the workshop with many more GCSE and A level music students watching. At the start Richard gave an impressive performance on the piano and then each of the five players performed a short piece, with difficulty ranging from Grade V to VIII. After each performance Richard gave feedback to the student pianist, providing advice on a range of playing techniques.

Richard also posed challenging questions to the students about their interpretations of the music and how they should approach playing every piece. He helped both those performing and those watching to see that it is important to consider why the composer wrote the music in a certain way, why it’s important to remain faithful to the composer’s instructions and intentions whilst still showing your own personal interpretation of the music. Richard gave the students invaluable advice and help which made it an inspiring and unforgettable experience for everyone involved.