Music Matters

Online composition experiences

A large part of the middle school music program usually revolves around performance. Both the Year 7 and 8 students compose their own works and perform these on acoustic instruments. Online classes this term, however, necessitated a different approach and Ms Bortolussi and Mrs Clarke decided to review the ‘City Rap’ project.

The City Rap thus became the COVID 19 Rap. Students in 7B, 8B and 8C 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 8C) 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 five weeks of term and was a complex task demanding a systematic approach. Students were required to include specific techniques into their work and they had to make many musical decisions along the way.

Here are two raps for you to enjoy by Sarah Zhu and Skye Sriratana.

Sarah Zhu

Skye Sriratana


Anne Bortolussi

Head of Music – Curriculum


Music Elective self-directed online focus

The boys in the Year 8/9 Music Technology elective class had a very different musical experience from what they were expecting. Once remote learning commenced they were not able to rehearse together in the classroom, and they no longer had access to the computer technology supplied at the school.

One aspect of the course which worked really well at this point was the self-directed project. For this the focus was not on direct instruction, but rather allowed each boy to choose one aspect of his musical life to improve, develop or investigate. Many boys chose to combine a number of small projects. One student decided to research the musical style of a band while teaching himself the drums and learning the drum part to some of their music. Another boy developed his interest in Russian Electronic Dance Music, independently researching its history, and composing an original work whose sections traced the development of the style. Another project arranged the national anthem for wind quintet, developing music software skills and midi control skills. Almost all the projects featured some kind of preliminary research followed by a practical application of what was learnt.

Mr Rowan Kidd

Year 8 Music Teacher


Charlie Victoria (Year 11) supports local community



Speech and Drama Concert online this week

Whilst there have been a few school music events postponed and cancelled over the past few weeks, we are delighted that our Speech and Drama students will have the opportunity to shine this Wednesday afternoon at an Online Tintern Speech and Drama Concert! Each student has pre-recorded their performance and these recordings will be presented to the audience on Wednesday. The presentation will commence at 5pm by invitation to staff, students and families of our young thespians through the Teams environment. Our Speech and Drama teacher, Ms Cecily Clarke, has been working with the students to bring this special event to fruition. Speech and Drama lessons have continued on a weekly basis (as have all of our co-curricular instrumental lessons). We look forward to being able to share our ‘live’ performances with you all again in the not-too-distant future.


Odette McCallum performing Romeo and Juliet


Jeffrey Zhang performing ‘Dogs Can’t Talk’




Music Theory

The study of Music Theory is an integral part of learning any musical instrument. It is essential in helping to read music, and to gain an insight into compositional structures of the pieces being played. It also helps to have an historical perspective of different periods of music, and to learn how the various instruments were first constructed, and how they have evolved over the years.

The higher grades of instrumental examinations do require students to have passed Theory examinations as a prerequisite, so theoretical study in younger years is advisable. Knowledge of basic theoretical concepts will also help those students wishing to study VCE music when they reach Senior School. 

Many aspects of Music Theory are covered within the instrumental lesson, but formal Theory studies leading towards graded examinations require extra time outside the weekly lesson. Music Theory Club has now resumed after our hiatus due to our time in isolation. This club is an excellent way for students to begin Theory studies. Those students studying Grades 1–3 in Music Theory come together on Monday lunchtimes to work through progressive exercises in a friendly environment with help from the Senior Music Captains. There is no extra fee to join this club.

This Term some of our instrumental students have enrolled for online Theory Courses, and they have found this an effective way to study remotely. The Australian Music Examinations Board are offering the Grades 1 – 3 courses for free until June 30. This is the perfect time to sign up for these courses, which then lead on to the Grade examinations.

Our most recent examination candidate was Danny Gong in Year 7, and we congratulate him on his outstanding result of 99% in Grade 1.   

Whilst Music Theory Club is for students in Grades 1 – 3, all Theory students from Grades 1 – 6 have the opportunity to enrol for private tuition. Information is available at the Music Office. Simply pop in to see Mrs Feenane, email or call 9845 7837

Ms Heather McKenzie

Head of Keyboard




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