Violins and flutes are all very well, but a great way to engage a wider swathe of young people with music is to allow them to play the style they most identify with.
Claremont Senior School
What better way to appeal to teenagers than give them the freedom to express themselves through rock instruments? It helps them to experience and appreciate the art of performance, collaboration, sharing creative ideas then trying them out to see what happens. Quite often, these initial musical experiences inspire students to delve deeper into other genres.
All pupils here have access to the electric/acoustic guitars, amps, basses, keyboard and acoustic/electric drum kits and Claremont senior school students have always banded together to play music with each another and regularly ‘rock’ the performance stage in the Space Theatre.
At the Compassion Talent Show in March this year one notable band, Simply Gleb, formed by Russian student, Gleb Buchnev, covered Rage Against the Machine’s Killing in the Name with the help of students Jack Lofting, Tom O’Brien Hughes and performing arts assistant, Harry Mousley.
Gleb filled the stage with his infectious rock ‘n’ roll spirit, unleashing his mane of hair and teenage angst in front of a mesmerized audience of parents and fellow students.
The performance began with the band playing the intro before Gleb stood up at the back of the audience, belted out the first line of the song, then proceeded to march through the theatre telling everyone ‘you do what they told yah’.
Also performing that night was the Jam Club. This popular club incorporates many different musicians, songs and instruments including brass, drums, guitar, piano and more. The Jam Club covered Amy Winehouse’s Valerie, Expectations by Lauren and Paolo Nutini’s Iron Sky, with a different lead vocalist performing each one.
This club allows students to better understand collaboration in music and their performance at the Compassion Talent Show echoed this.
We chat to SIMPLY GLEB
How did the band form?
We were helping out a mate (Gleb), who wanted to play some songs as it was his last year at Claremont, then it turned into something much more, and watching the audience reaction just added to our enjoyment and performance.
What music do you play?
Do you write your own songs?
Gleb does, however they are more on the rap side than rock music.
What music do you like? Gleb:
Rock music, rap music, Russian music mostly. Tom: I enjoy all sorts of music from 80’s rap to hard rock. Jack: Any music.
Who are your rock and pop idols? Tom:
I really look up to and admire Led Zeppelin, the guitarist Jimmy Page is an icon who keeps surprising with his riffs.
Jack: Jimi Hendrix and Roger Taylor from Queen, because he’s a sick drummer.
Gleb: Other than my Russian idols, I am inspired by Kurt Cobain, Bon Jovi and Mr Mousley our performing arts assistant.
Does being in the band give you cred with the other kids?
Gleb (agreeing before the question was even finished): Yes it does and it feels great being complimented at the end of a performance, particularly after all the hard work that goes into it.
Claremont Senior School, Hastings, East Sussex
01424 751555 claremontschool.co.uk
Dulwich Prep –
Cranbrook Clemency Whiting, Head of Music
Pupils can learn almost any instrument at Dulwich, with a team of twenty visiting music teachers, many of whom are professional players themselves.
Our Rock School formed about two years ago and since then it has grown with popularity. We have three bands made up of pupils largely in Years 7 and 8, but pupils as young as 9 or 10 are now forming their own bands, often with the guidance of the senior pupils, which is wonderful to see. One of our bands is called Manic, the others are still deciding!
In February we had our first Rock School Concert in aid of the Sam West Foundation* and this summer Rock School will perform at our Summer Concert, the Friends of Dulwich Summer Fair, and at the Woodlands Festival in Hawkhurst.
It is only a matter of time before some of them go on to form proper bands. When we see our pupils perform, it is hard to believe how young they are. We have one pupil, Twinkle (an excellent rock ‘n’ roll name), who sounds like the next Adele.
Charlie Andrew, Brit award-winning producer of Alt J, is a famous former Dulwich pupil, and it is only a matter of time before we have more.
Our music department values all types of music and this is certainly an avenue for children who prefer rock and pop. However, we often find that our best rockers are also top players in our orchestra. For example, we have an excellent guitarist who is also an incredible bassoonist.
If you have a love and enjoyment of music, it is natural to explore different genres and get involved. In this way, our pupils get a truly rounded experience of what music can offer, shaping their curiosity for all types of music as they move into their later teens.
We chat to MANIC
Elliot: In my very first week at Dulwich our teacher realised I played the keyboard and invited me to meet the others, it was so great.
We are like a big family, it is such good fun.
So far Manic have performed Born to Be Wild and The Best of You by the Foo Fighters. We are now working on a new song that Twinkle has written, inspired by Sam Smith’s Stay with Me. We like a wide variety of music, Twinkle listens to 60’s music, I like Guns & Roses and ACDC.
After our concert, loads of people came up to us and said we were amazing. It made us feel really proud and more determined.
Dulwich Prep Cranbrook, Kent
01580 712179 dulwichprepcranbrook.org
Hurst College –
Will Carroll, Head of Music Technology
Pupils can learn guitar, vocals, drums, keyboards, you name it, taught by college music teachers and visiting teachers. It attracts children who might be put off by the idea of classical music to learn an instrument. Everyone likes the idea of being a rock star.
We have a band in each year group which generally stay together throughout their time at school. The Hurst Rockers is our main UVI (upper sixth) band.
There are a minimum of three concerts each year at the college with others outside school also. Many of our bands stay together after school and perform throughout university and onwards.
Pupils are encouraged to try every style of music so they are welcome to play in rock bands as well as the jazz band or the school orchestra.
An interview with THIRTYFOURSPOONS
Thomas Bettle, Year 13
I am on guitar and vocals. Playing in bands at school is really fun – making your own songs and playing in concerts at various locations inside and outside school.
We are all friends who play instruments in the same year group. We got together and started writing and performing music. We play pop/rock/progressive and we write our own songs.
I like a wide variety of music, including Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, The Who, The Specials and Stevie Wonder. My friends like coming to see me perform.
We chat to THE REMOVE
Fin di Castiglione, Year 10
I really love playing music with other people in my band, and even though I didn’t enjoy it at first, I now really like performing.
We’re just a group of friends who all play music and love to do it, so naturally we formed a band, and now we practise every week and we’re getting pretty good!
We play a bit of everything – some rock, some pop, a mix really. We don’t write our own songs yet, but we’ll probably start soon. I’m not a huge fan of pop – I like more rock/indie rock type music e.g. Guns n Roses, Green Day, Oasis etc.
My friends think it’s cool that I’m good at guitar and singing, and when I have my guitar in college, they get me to play songs at break time
Hurst College, Hassocks, West Sussex
01273 833636 hppc.co.uk
Jam Club at Claremont
Music at Claremont
Jam Club at Claremont
Jack, Simply Gleb's drummer
Simply Gleb at Claremont
Simply Gleb rehearse at Claremont
Dulwich Rock school
Dulwich Rock school
Rock at Dulwich
Dulwich band, Manic
Hurst College School of Rock
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