Music Matters

What do you teach to middle school music classes during COVID-19 online learning?

A large part of the middle school music program usually revolves around performance. Both the Year 7 and 8 students play ukuleles, boom-whackers and bucket drums. They compose their own works and perform these on acoustic instruments. Online classes this year, however, necessitated a different approach and Ms Bortolussi and Mrs Clarke decided to resurrect and rejuvenate the ‘City Rap’ project, which had given way to other units of work in recent years.

The City Rap thus became the COVID-19 Rap. Students in 7A and 8A still had to work in groups to develop their lyrics but, instead of using a set chorus, “There’s a beat to the City. There’s a hum to the street. It’s a place to be alone and a place where people meet”, they had to change or totally rewrite this chorus to reflect the period of self-isolation.

Working in groups in break out teams was not without its challenges; however, all students managed to collaborate to produce a rap of 3 or more verses with each student inputting at least one verse of their own. After the lyrics had been set, students then worked independently to create an appropriate backing track using GarageBand on their iPads. Some students were very familiar with the capabilities of this program; for others, it was the first time they had used it. Mrs Clarke (teacher of 7A) developed a series of eight short videos, which guided students step by step through the process of setting up a new song, auditioning and importing loops, recording and layering vocal tracks, balancing volume and overlaying specific effects. Students were able to work through the videos at their own pace both during lessons and for homework and the teachers were on hand to answer questions, solve problems and give feedback every step of the way. Both Ms Bortolussi and Mrs Clarke were delighted with the final products. The entire unit took the first six weeks of this term and was a complex task demanding a systematic approach. Students were required to include specific assessable musical techniques in their work and they had to make musical decisions at each stage of the creative process.

Here are several raps for you to enjoy:

Brooke Fennessy (Year 7) 

Sashenka Fernando (Year 7)

Holly White (Year 7) 

Emily Tian-Ci Manton (Year 7)

Helen Yang (Year 8)

Ruby Sun (Year 8)


Ms Bortolussi and Mrs Clarke


Online Year 7-12 String Concert released this evening

This evening brings us to the final instalment of our online student concerts for Term 3. Our Year 7-12 String Concert will feature delightful pre-recorded performances on violins, violas, cellos, double basses and one harp all recorded at home, with the exception of the final performance, which was recorded in June at school at our IB Recital. Students have continued their music lessons unabated during this remote learning period and it is wonderful that technology allows us to enjoy the fruits of their labours this evening.

If you would like to view the concert, it can be retrieved by following this link: So, gather your drink and snacks, make yourselves comfortable on the couch and enjoy the wonderful variety of performances by our hard working and talented Tintern Grammar musicians.

Congratulations to all of the students who contributed to this production, and thank you to the impromptu videographers who assisted the students with the task of capturing their performances. We appreciate the work of our untiring Music Administrator, Liz Feenane who co-ordinated the program, Matt Collens in the AV Team, who crafted the video, our accompanists and all of our string staff who assisted students to prepare these performances. Special thanks to Tim Veldman, Head of Strings, for his work on the attractive slideshow presentation and for co-ordinating the concert submissions with staff and students.

We very much look forward to seeing these students (hopefully all of them, including our very patient Middle School musicians) back on campus over the coming months, filling our corridors with their beautiful music.



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