Robots, Riots and Repetition

Inspired by Stravinsky’s controversial ballet, The Rite of Spring and Kraftwerk’s single ‘The Man Machine’, Year 7 composed their very own machine music pieces. Their brief was to include at least two repeating patterns (the technical term for this is an ostinato), to make up their own chord and to try to use accents. These are all features of Stravinsky’s work which provoked a riot amongst the Parisian audience at its first performance in 1913, not only because of its unpredictable rhythms and accents, strange chords and repeated melodic fragments but because of the highly unconventional choreography.

You can listen to some of Year 7’s compositions below:


Peer learning

The last lesson of the term for year 9 saw peer learning at its best. There was a crash course in bass guitar taking place in the Humanities room which the students also filmed so that our fledgling bass player could go through the lessons himself during the Christmas holiday.IMG_1684

Meanwhile in the hall a guitar masterclass was underway:


In the music room a group were working on perfecting their Blues song and you can listen to the finished product here:

Blues and Technology

Year 9 have been looking at the Blues; its origins, development and structure.  They got to grips with the chords and learned how to play the 12 bar progression. The aim was to build a Blues piece, starting with the chords and then adding in a melody using the blues scale and an optional walking bass line. Clearly this task required reasonable fluency on a musical instrument to pull off a live version so this is where music technology wins hands down. It enables students to explore and experiment with sounds and combinations of sounds without them having to restrict their creativity to what they can actually manage to play. Whilst the midi keyboards allow you to play in ideas, these can be manipulated and edited in the GarageBand programme. In addition there are countless numbers of loops for every instrument, style and genre which can be used to build up a piece. Do I think using loops is ‘cheating’? Certainly not! To make them work properly you need to edit and transpose them, you need to decide which will work in combination and what length loops will be the most effective, especially if you are then going to change their pitch. This is exactly what two of the students did – if they had tried for a live Blues piece they would probably have ended up playing a few lame drum rhythms when directed to but this is what they produced using technology:

Students perform in Junior assembly

The Juniors have been hard at work in assemblies practising their song for the end of term carol service but this week they had a real treat – live performances from their very own Natalie in year 3 and Will in year 11 (preparing for his GCSE music controlled assessment in performance).  Will played a Red Hot Chilli Peppers number on electric guitar whilst Natalie aired a Hungarian Dance – one of her grade 3 violin pieces. At a time when performing arts are being increasingly squeezed out by Government directives and creativity is being sidelined in favour of learning The Facts,  it is safe to say that they are alive and well at Sancton Wood – long may this be the case!

Here are some highlights from the assembly:

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Mary’s Knitting

Previewed briefly at the Variety Show last week, the Infant Nativity play, promised to be a real treat for parents and three performances later we can safely say it lived up to all expectations. They looked lovely in their costumes, they sang with enthusiasm, the stars and angels danced beautifully and Joseph’s recurring refrain of ‘oh dear, oh dear’ caused many a chuckle.  In short, they all did a brilliant job under the guiding hand of Mrs Byrom, ably supported by the rest of the Infant and Nursery staff. Here are a few highlights: