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Mrs Burdett, Head of Music

In our latest blog, Mrs Louise Burdett, Head of Music, reveals the goings-on behind the scenes ensuring SGGS keeps up its tradition of musical performances at Christmas time.

Over to Mrs Burdett…

Christmas is a special time in Stratford-Upon-Avon and at Stratford Girl’s Grammar School. This is my 18th year here and whilst many things change, the excitement around musical performances at this time of year always remains the same. After what has been an unexpectedly challenging year, we knew we had to make sure this joy continued in some way and I am delighted to say that it has. Our first ever Virtual Christmas Concert is taking shape and will be revealed to all on the SGGS website next week.


Learning from lockdown

The idea for a Virtual Christmas Concert came from our successful adaption to Teams-based lessons and studying music from home during the summer lockdown. Students recorded their own layers of music on their chosen instruments safely from their homes and this was then put together afterwards alongside their peers. The results were very good and so we started to wonder, what else we might be able to do should social distancing still be required in future?  We have also learned from other successful technology events the school has run in recent times, such as the Sixth Form Open Event, that was entirely virtual and very well received.


A chance for all to shine  

Under normal circumstances, there would be two physical Christmas Concerts held at SGGS, but as this year’s production is virtual, parents and students will be able to access the ensembles online at their convenience. In some ways, this unique situation has helped some of our musicians come out of their shell, as it is a little less scary recording contributions at home.

The chamber choir has been rehearsing since half-term and will feature along with small groups and soloists from across every year group in school. There will even be some cameos from members of staff, who do not usually take to the stage and perform during our Christmas events! Most of the recordings included have been produced by students at home but we have been able to include some sectional rehearsals since students returned to school, such as Jazz and Soul bands. Performances to watch out for include a Year 7 rendition of the ‘12 days of Christmas’, the GCSE Music group’s version of ‘Carol of the Bells’ and the ‘Sleigh Ride’ finale, featuring a montage of festive pictures and Christmas messages.


Team effort

There is no escaping the disappointment that some events we look forward to at Christmas cannot happen this year. SGGS students are often involved with lots of local community music events, from the Christmas lights switch-on to carol singing at Ragley Hall. But it has been wonderful to see how our resilient students have made the best of things and come together to work as a team. This is especially true of Year 13, who will be experiencing their last Christmas as SGGS students.

Whilst I have taken the lead with producing the Virtual Christmas Concert, this simply would not be possible without help from the students. Many have assisted with video editing, mixing and some Year 11 and Sixth Form students have taken the initiative to edit their own contributions entirely. This has been a huge undertaking with lots of hard work to hit deadlines, but the results are looking fantastic and every student involved can be incredibly proud.


The SGGS Virtual Christmas Concert will be available to view on the school website from Monday 14th December 2020.