Four members of Bradford Grammar School (BGS) have had remarkable success in recent music exams. Ruby Hendry, Year 13, Leon Dammone and Laura Barnett, both Year 12, and John Scholey in Year 9 have all achieved distinctions in the Associate of the Royal Schools of Music (ARSM) exam.
This qualification is a chance to display performance skills after grade 8. ARSM is unique in focusing solely on practical performing skills and is about the art and craft of musical communication through a half-hour programme which pupils put together according to their individual musical strengths and enthusiasms. All four pupils had to sing in at least two different languages, and pieces ranged from Purcell’s ‘Hark the Echoing Air’ to Grieg, Faure and Schumann’s ‘Dichterliebe’.
John, aged 13 from Leeds, is hoping to go onto King’s College Cambridge for a Choral Scholarship: he says: “I’ve played classical guitar since I was three and I’ve been singing since I was seven. I also play the bass guitar and piano and feel really supported with all of this at School.”
“Music means so much to me and is one of the main things in my life and the fantastic care from BGS staff has helped to push me to where I am now.” John is now looking forward to the next stage of his journey and recently sang with the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain (NYCGB) in a concert at Snape Maltings, Suffolk, as part of the Aldeburgh International Festival 2017.
A Level musician, Ruby, is going to the Royal Northern College of Music to study Vocal Studies in September. She is a member of the Rodolfus Choir and was recently awarded a distinction at the Operatic Solo Class 110th Wharfedale Festival of Performing Arts, where she also received the Geldard trophy. Ruby also performs locally with Steeton Male Voice choir, Shipley Male Voice Choir and the Fairfax Singers in venues such as Bolton Abbey Priory.
About the exam, Ruby said: “The exam was definitely a challenge; it really stretches your skills beyond that of a Graded Music Exam as you’re judged on not only your technical and musical assurance but also your performance as a whole and the way you engaged with your pieces. It was a great experience and it’s amazing to be starting the early stages of my career and the beginning of my professional training with a qualification such as this already under my belt.”
Elizabeth White, Director of Music at (BGS) said, “To have one pupil pass their ARSM is an achievement, let alone four and for all of them to be awarded a distinction is stunning. The pupils totally deserve it and show that not only talent, but hard work and dedication. All four pupils are members of both our Senior Choir and Senior Chamber Choir and John and Ruby also sings in the school’s Close Harmony Group.”
Speaking about the BGS approach, Elizabeth says: “It’s very important in our curriculum because it builds so many skills. Whether you are going onto Music College and destined for a career in Music or Music Technology degree, or you may even decide not to take it forwards at GCSE; it really builds transferable skills that you need later in life such as resilience, confidence, teamwork and above all enjoyment.”
It is also important to BGS that their pupils engage with the wider community through their music. Elizabeth describes this in more detail: “We always encourage our pupils to meet people from different backgrounds and learn about compassion and service. For example, our Year 7 pupils spend their time with children from Chellow Heights Special School every year, where children with a variety of special needs enjoy music performed by our Junior Choir.”
“At a time when Arts teaching is coming under fire nationally, we recognise how lucky we are to be in a position where music in the school is thriving and growing year-on-year. We are proud of the school’s musical heritage, with record numbers of pupils choosing music for GCSE and A level next year, at almost double the national average take-up for Independent schools.”
“All our concerts are free of charge open to the general public because we want to share our love of music as far and wide as we can and performing in front of large audiences certainly nurtures our young people with their confidence.”
“We want everybody at BGS to get involved in Music. We achieve excellence by inclusivity. Every child should have a chance to play an instrument or sing in a choir if they wish,” says Elizabeth.
Find out more about Bradford Grammar School’s public concerts at bradfordgrammar.com/events
“At a time when Arts teaching is coming under fire nationally, we recognise how lucky we are to be in a position where music in the school is thriving and growing year-on-year.
We are proud of the school’s musical heritage, with record numbers of pupils choosing music for GCSE and A level next year, at almost double the national average take-up for Independent schools.”